In line with some of my more recent posts on homeschooling and parenting I thought I would address the person who feels it is necessary to tell those of us with children who have special needs, learning disabilities, and mental health issues how to parent. It is their belief that their good mannered, sweet disposition child or children is the result of their parenting and life choices. Well I am here to tell you right now that if you think that having a neuro-typical child or one that doesn’t have learning disabilities is a result of your parenting choices then not only are you delusional but you may be an asshole. Or maybe you are a concerned aunt or grandparent and that a good spanking and better discipline will straighten the kid out and we are just looking to pigeon hold our child into a diagnosis.
We have five children in this house who are all very different. For the most part we are fortunate to have healthy children. Physically healthy children. Not all our children were physically healthy in the beginning. One of our sons had developmental and speech delays and one of our daughters contracted whooping cough as an infant, then RSV and had damage done to her lungs and immune system. However they are both older and only get the common illnesses that other kids get.
One of our children is adopted. He is now a thriving teen but the early years were a living hell. We can look back now and laugh some and be thankful that we survived. We made a lot of mistakes. I personally carry guilt for a lot of things I did in trying to control an aggressive, violent child. We all have emotional and physical scars from about a six year period. Luckily we got help because we no longer could handle things on our own. We appreciate all the friends in our lives who stepped up to the plate to offer us respite, even when they didn’t get it but saw that we were drowning. It took a village and we are grateful.
And then there were those who thought that their superior parenting or magic cures would solve our sons issues. I can honestly say that I tried it all out of desperation. I can say to the people who said to spank him – it didn’t work. It actually made things worse. Punishment did not work. Not even negative consequences worked. In fact it just caused more despair and frustration on our part and made our child feel inadequate and unloved. To outsiders I am sure that we eventually looked like pushovers and passive parents when in actuality we were doing exactly what our family therapists (plural) advised us to do.
We also put our son on medication. He has been on medication since age 4. I can tell you about all the side effects, the blood draws, the journal entries, and how long it took to find the right fit for our son. I can tell you I wasn’t comfortable with it. That I cried. That we cried. That I questioned it every single time he took his medicine. That I prayed there was a better way and there would be some magic pill to solve it all.
With in our four walls was a war zone. Broken furniture and holes in the walls and the other children hiding or locking themselves in their rooms out of fear. Our lives were a roller coaster that never stopped cue concerned individuals who thought we were doing something wrong…
Did you change his diet? It is probably food allergies. I bet its gluten.
I won’t dismiss that food is the best medicine. I believe in gut health and I believe in the brain gut connection. All of that is scientifically proven. I actually have problems eating wheat and it makes me feel like shit. I also have food allergies that mess with my speech, impact the way I write, and cause me to be disoriented. But I am here to tell you we didn’t put our son on anti-convulsion and anti-psychotic meds as our first line of defense. Sugar, red dye, yellow dye, blue dye, and grains did not make him being an aggressive, violent, and hallucinating five year old. If only it was that easy.
You should see a chiropractor, use essential oils, and feed him super foods.
This sounds like reasonable advice. I am sure people mean well – or do they? Or is it really a judgment on how you parent and the choices you have made. If I thought some essential oils on the bottom of my child’s foot would have prevented him from putting holes in the wall or walking on the roof in the middle of the night or would cure night terrors I would have totally done it. But just think about how ridiculous that sounds. And while I personally use essential oils for a variety of issues as a first line of defense, I do not treat my anxiety and PTSD with essential oils. I take medication and go to therapy. Anyone who tells you they have cured their mental illness or their child’s mental illness or autism with essential oils is lying. (hate mail can be sent to beautifulwreck2 at gmail)
And as I have said, I believe in the power of food and the gut brain connection. I think for some children and adults eating a shitty diet it can impact their behavior and moods. I don’t believe it is wise or safe to eat franken foods for our overall health but do I think eliminating Little Debbies and Doritos from my kids diet will solve our problems. Well, I did eliminate them and guess what – the child was eating an organic, whole foods diet without grains, dyes, or sugars and NOTHING CHANGED.
There is this assumption that if you have a young child with behavioral problems or mental illness it is somehow the parents fault. If only it was that simple. Bless. Do you not think the majority of parents with children with these kind of issues haven’t tried, researched, and discussed these things? Are you assuming we are uninformed or stupid? Some of us even took parenting class or got training as foster to adopt parents. We spend our time connecting to other parents in person and on the internet, we speak to not only our physicians, but all the parents I know with children who have mental health issues or a child on the autism spectrum has done more research than the FBI.
You just aren’t tough enough.
The fact that someone had the audacity to say this to ME is almost laughable, but I have heard it plenty in connection to all of my children. While I am much more laid back mother than I used to be, I have always had high expectations for my children – no matter what was going on with them. Do some of them have legitimate excuses when they are acting like assholes? Yes, but we don’t let that define who they are. And it surely is not a reflection on my toughness as a parent. (If my kids are reading this they may be laughing at the idea people think I am a permissive and passive parent) The goal of my parenting is not to put a band aid on inappropriate behavior but to get to the root of it. Sometimes the root of the problem involves changing the guidelines and structure of our life, therapy, and medication adjustments. (sometimes for them, sometimes for me)
Having children with learning disabilities and mental health issues has taught me to be flexible and we need to think about how we approach parents who are living this day to day. They are in the trenches trying to make decisions for their child and are not just looking for the easiest way out by turning to medication. Often times before we ever reached the decision to put our children on medication we had already exhausted a lot of other methods to help our child. We are not stupid, we are not passive, and we are not lazy. Please think before suggesting that what we are doing for our children is wrong.