Blind people are moms, sons, grandparents, neighbors, employees, business owners and all sorts of other roles too.
Throughout our lives we will be a part of many different types of relationships with many different people. We will always be someone’s son or daughter. Later in life we may have a child of our own. Whether we work for someone else or own our own business we will always have to interact with people for business. Wherever we live, apartment building, single family home or on a farm we will have neighbors. Then there are thousands of other relationships that we develop in our lifetime, with doctors, dentists, teachers, mail carriers, bank tellers, waitresses, salespersons and even strangers that we pass by on the street. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we are always interacting with other people and developing relationships, for a moment, a season or a lifetime.
Here I will share stories from other blind people, and some of my own, on how we have worked out various relationship issues that have come up in our lives. I hope that you will find inspiration to develop new relationships, rejoice in current ones and find the strength to change the not so good ones.
Parents have an especially influential role in our lives. Many blind people’s parents didn’t have access to quality educational programs, adult role models or other accurate information about blindness. I think parents do the best they can with what they have. When the information and resources at hand paint a dreary picture of blindness, it isn’t very hard to understand why the blind child isn’t given much opportunity to grow, explore and achieve.
Here chasity talks about her experiences with her parents and fiancé Parents and becoming an adult
Dating and Marriage
Who we choose to date, become romantically involved with or maybe even marry is a reflection of ourselves. Each one of us values certain things in ourselves and we look for complementary characteristics in another person. For example I value responsibility in myself and I don’t tolerate irresponsibility very well. It is very important to me that any significant person in my life be responsible, either a partner, friend, business associate and even my child is learning the value of responsibility.
Where does blindness fit into dating or marriage? In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be very much of a thing at all. Unfortunately this typically isn’t the way it happens to work out. We always have to dig deep within ourselves making sure that we aren’t making assumptions based on our blindness and letting those prejudices spill over into our interactions.
Obviously blindness is a part of our lives. When we enter into a relationship with another person blindness becomes an element in the relationship. We have to confront it within the context of the association. We need to be honest about how we feel that our blindness or visual impairment will affect the situation, answer any questions and keep communicating until both people are comfortable with it. If your partner never becomes reasonably comfortable with blindness or visual impairment, it may be time to move on. I am including both people whether one or both are blind. Sighted people are not the only ones who have misconceptions about what being blind means.
Allowing blindness or visual impairment to dictate who we date, what we need from our partner or who we think might be interested in us, will most likely end up being an unhealthy relationship. Isn’t the objective to find someone who we respect, admire, enjoy, and love? Sure there is an element of taking care of our partner, but that goes both ways.
Here’s one of those topics that we all have difficulty talking about. It’s a part of life and I think it’s important, so I have included it!
Here Chasity talks about her experiences with sexuality. There are also suggested books to read, all available in alternative formats.
Children Of Our Own
Holding your baby for the first time may very well be the most joyous moment in your life. It can be daunting, wonderful, scary, miraculous and delightful, probably all at the same time. Sarah shares some simple massage techniques to help you get to know your baby. Being a parent is a demanding job that is at the same time the most rewarding experience of my life.
I want my children to look up to me as their parent. I want them to think of me as a person who they can come to with problems, questions or advice. I want to be their teacher, mentor and most of all Mom.
The most difficult thing for me is constantly having to Reinforce to my children that I am a capable person and that it is perfectly respectable to be blind. They are constantly bombarded with society’s mostly negative perceptions about what it means to be blind. So as a blind parent I have an additional and difficult job of making sure that they remain confident in me as their Mom.
Here is a story that illustrates what I mean. It is just one small part of one morning in our lives. What Matters Most
I have been blessed with wonderful in-laws. I know, I know nobody says that! Really, though, they are wonderful people. They are supportive, understanding and helpful in a constructive and appreciated way. They are truly nice people.
Each and every day we are changing what it means to be blind, even if we don’t realize it. The sight of a blind person crossing the street independently, grocery shopping, walking the kids to school and the thousands of other little things really do make a difference.
Sometimes, though, there are people who haven’t been exposed to blind people doing these everyday things. There are people who want to be helpful and there are a handful of folks that for some reason are just not very nice. How we interact with the public will have an impact on how these people perceive blindness in the future. Also these people will in turn interact with other people, passing along their experiences.
I always try my very most to be polite and courteous to people who offer help or stop me to ask questions. Here I share some of my experiences with the public and how I cope with some of the strangest situations. Stories from everyday encounters. Sarah shares her thoughts on how to remain tactful and polite when confronted with various situations with the public.
Up to this point we have only talked about blind adults advocating for themselves. Blind children need the support and encouragement of their parents. It is so important that all children be given opportunities to explore, discover, learn and grow into their authentic adult self.
I am very grateful to my parents for never discouraging me from doing anything based on my visual impairment. I was encouraged to do anything I wanted including riding a bike, playing sports, training dogs, cooking on the grill and going away to college.