As a parent, I had one reaction to #BornThisWay. When I take that hat off (rarely happens) and put on my Road We’ve Shared hat, I have another reaction.
The only concern I have, as a self-appointed voice of a bigger community, was brought to light in a conversation I had with a family member.
Me: “Did you watch it.”
Family member: “Very high functioning people I thought.”
Yes. That’s going to be said a great deal I bet.
All of the cast are pretty easy to understand. Their expressive language skills are impressive to those of us who struggle to understand our own child at times.
Megan has a great deal of ambition and drive. She’s a strong self-advocate.
Rachel has a great job.
Christina is in an adult relationship and is ready to be on her own.
Sean is an awesome athlete, social, and personable.
John has a quick wit and great self-awareness.
Elena is full of deep emotions that she can express easily.
Then there’s Steven. Some people, who don’t understand the difference between Mosaic Down syndrome and Trisomy 21, may wonder why he’s even on the show.
All of the families seem to have good supports and be comfortably positioned on the socioeconomic scale.
That’s a high bar for any of us to meet.
While I appreciate the importance of bringing awareness to what our loved ones are capable of, it’s not reflective of all of our stories.
So often parents whose children do not have the expressive language skills, or don’t excel at sports feel left out. Parents who don’t have the resources to be the “dream makers” they’d like to be feel guilty or discouraged.
While nobody denies the importance of combating stereotypes about how limited the lives of people who have Down syndrome are, it’s also important to acknowledge that not all of our loved ones will be “super stars.”
There’s a delicate balance between supporting your child to be the best they can be and pushing too hard because of unrealistic expectations.
The guilt and pressure can be horrible. Yes, we need to work hard and give our children every opportunity we can. We also need to be able to accept the realities of the limitations they might have and love them just the way they are.
In my opinion, #BornThisWay is a fabulous and rare glimpse into the lives of some fantastic people. It will make a difference in the beliefs of people who hold on to some outdated stereotypes and misinformation. Parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis will see that there is hope. That is important!
What I pray does not happen is that people will, as they did with Chris Burke when Life Goes On was on the air, judge all people with Down syndrome by the folks they “meet” on #BornThisWay.
In the wise words of John: “We’re all human.”
We’re all different. None of us should be expected to live up to any one view of a label.
For those of us who have adults with Down syndrome in our lives now… please don’t be discouraged. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the show without judging yourself, or your child, by someone else’s life. You may find that some of your thoughts and feelings are expressed by these parents and that you’re not alone. You may find humor in a similarity between your loved one and one of the cast members. You may even just enjoy the hour for what it is, a television show meant to entertain an audience.
I believe that we, as a community should support the dreams and projects of others members. This show is a chance for seven of US to shine. So far at least, the team behind #BornThisWay is doing a good job and not exploiting the cast members for the sake of ratings. As long as that stays true, I’ll support it while wearing both of my hats! 😀
If you missed the live version of Episode 1 and want to watch it online, here’s the link: Born This Way