I Don’t Want Your Pity

I Don't Want Your Pity - Faith to Raise Nate, Special Needs Blog
2 min read

I wrote two post last week titled,

12 Things NOT to Say to a Parent With Special Needs – (Part 1)
12 Things NOT to Say to a Parent With Special Needs – (Part 2) What To Say?

In both post, I shared how I had received the following comments from a professional.
“Poor Baby!”
“I feel sorry for you and him.”
“He’s both deaf and blind…what a sad life!”

In Part 2 of that post, I revisted those 12 comments/question and gave alternative language people should use.

For the above comment, I told people to say, “I have compassion for you.” “I sympathize with you.”

I went on to explain the reason behind changing the language. I shared that saying “Poor baby” or I feel sorry for you”, conveys pity.

Now someone may ask, what is wrong with pity. Aren’t I suppose to have pity toward someone? Shouldn’t I feel pity for someone who has special needs?

The answer to that question is “NO!”

Pity is not the same as compassion. It is a completely different emotion and feeling. In Psychology today, pity is defined as “a feeling of discomfort at the distress of one or more sentient beings, and…..and has condescending overtones.”

When someone has pity on a person, they only acknowledge the issue, but they are hands-off and not engaged with them. This is a incorrect feeling or emotion.

Instead people value empathy and compassion. People desire others to empathize with them, where there is a genuine understanding, from their perspective, of their situation and circumstance. When a person shows empathy, it should move them to the greater feeling, which is compassion.  This is where your heart is overcome with a desire and willingness to help by reducing or alleviating their pain.

Parents of children with special needs don’t want pity. That is offensive.

I personally don’t want anyone to look at my son and at me, with a feeling of sorrow and pity. As if our situation is sad and detestable. I don’t want that sad look on your face as you tell me, how sorry you are for me. No parent of children with special needs wants that.

What parents with special needs prefer are empathetic people in our lives. We want people who are genuine and want to learn about our many needs and challenges of raising our child. We desire for this to develop compassion within your hearts, where it will move you to meet any needs, of the parents and children that you see.


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  1. 1

    I think the key to pity is part of the definition you quoted, “condescending.” Pity makes us feel less than and the other person can feel more than. No true connection occurs between the two, but the one who pities can feel smug about professing to “care.” Good post.

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