wheelchair

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…

Posted by Jenna Gines on Saturday, March 30, 2019

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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WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley ??? “I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this… When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.” ? Tag a Momma who is new to this place below. ??@hiliary.kastudios

A post shared by This New Life of Mine✨ (@jennagines) on

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.

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However, a few drew a line between normal curiosity and the kind of staring and interest that can come off badly.

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“Let’s embrace different,” Gines concluded. “Let’s talk about differences and be the change we want to see in this world.”

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Mom of Boy With Special Needs Tells Parents: ‘Please Stop Teaching Your Children Not to Stare’

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