Our Kids Don't Want to Be Your Project, They Want to Be Your Friend

It’s that time of year again, Prom. We see the pictures of beautiful girls dressed up, escorted by their handsome dates. No doubt we also see the videos and pictures of beautiful girls asking a boy who has special needs to the prom. Posted on social media. We read the comments under the photos such as “So inspiring,” “In tears.” While I appreciate the thought and understand the motivation behind these acts of kindness, my heart is torn. I don’t understand how this is considered inspirational, and I too am brought to tears, but not for the same reason as those who are commenting.

I see these events from a different perspective. From the eyes of a mom whose son has been brought to tears by these acts of “kindness.” A mom who had to comfort and console her son. A mom who had to wipe her crying son’s eyes because he didn’t have the physical strength to lift his arms to do it himself. A mom whose son was deeply hurt by “friends.” I know they didn’t start off to hurt him. I cannot tell you what their true motivation was. Whether it was compassion, kindness, or they felt it was their Christian duty. The motivation does not matter. What does matter is in the end my son ended up feeling like he was nothing more than a project.


He does not want to be a project or the recipient of your good deeds. He wants what we all want. True, unconditional friendship. Friends who truly care, who are willing to go the distance.

My intent is not to take away from these events. Anytime our kids are included in what you would consider a normal part of life it touches our hearts. There is a time and place and I appreciate those willing to take part in them. I have a teacher friend who worked hard to make this happen for her special needs student. It is a great lesson for our teens to look outside their little world. The problem is these events are just that, a one-time event.

Just be careful, your well-meaning intentions may not have the results you desire. No matter the ability or disability these are real people with real feelings and emotions. They would love nothing more than a friend who wants to be part of their life, not just for one event but for real and for life.

What would your motivation be in befriending someone with a disability? I encourage you to contemplate your purpose and be sure it is motivated by nothing less than unconditional love.

Donna McKenzie - I have been married to my husband Jeff for 34 years. I am a mom to 4 sons. I have always been a stay at home mom and am now a full-time care giver to my youngest son Ryan. Ryan is now 20 and has a genetic degenerative disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.