Jenna Gines doesn’t mind if your child stares at her son. In fact, she wants to encourage it.
As Kidspot reports, Gines has three small children, one of whom has a rare genetic disorder and uses a wheelchair.
The mom recently posted on Facebook with a plea to other parents when it comes to dealing with her son with special needs: “Please stop teaching your children not to stare!”
Please stop teaching your children not to stare!🛑What are we teaching them when we say that? Don’t look at someone…
Many of us were taught that staring is rude and have tried to pass the same lesson on to our children. But Gines says that the “no staring” rule communicates the wrong message about people who are different:
What are we teaching them when we say that? Don’t look at someone that is different then you. Don’t be curious or want to learn about something you’ve never seen before. Stay away from things that are different.
Instead of the no-staring lesson, Gines suggests that parents let their children stare at those who are different (like her son).
“Let them ask questions, talk about it,” she wrote. “What is it that they see? What is it that they’re curious about? What is different? What is the same?”
Of course, there is a step beyond staring — reaching out:
If it’s someone using a wheelchair, say hi. If it’s someone that looks or acts different, say hi. If it’s someone of short stature, say hi.
An introduction (and not being afraid to stare) is the beginning of the right lesson about how to approach someone who is different.
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As Gines explained, it’s much better to stare, approach, and ask questions than to ignore the child in the wheelchair and pretend he doesn’t exist:
Teach your child about differences. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to notice it and to talk about it. It’s even better to make a new friend. It’s not okay to ignore, look away, or act like a person who is different isn’t there.
The mom’s plea struck a chord with other parents of children with special needs, many of whom agreed that there’s nothing wrong with staring when it leads to people approaching and learning more about a disability.
However, a few drew a line between normal curiosity and the kind of staring and interest that can come off badly.
“Let’s embrace different,” Gines concluded. “Let’s talk about differences and be the change we want to see in this world.”