'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything.'
Growing up, we all heard this saying. But how many of us ever reflect on the significance of these words? And how many actually follow this advice?
In my experience, sadly, not enough.
The art of knowing the right time and place to say certain things – and having the foresight to see if something you are about to say is going to offend someone – does not come naturally to everyone.
Watch: Vanessa Cranefield on parenting a child with a disability. Post continues below.
It probably isn't something many people think about much, until comments that are unkind and sometimes quite rude are directed at their family. In particular, at their children.
I don't really know if it's because people don’t consider the feelings of others, or if it’s because they don't know quite what to say. Maybe they don't take that second or two to think first. Or maybe they're just downright rude and don't care what comes out of their mouth.
When you become the parent of a child with a disability, you very quickly become aware of the sorts of things I am talking about.
I know this because I have been the recipient of unkind and uneducated comments towards my son Darcy, who lives with Down Syndrome.