Guilt and the special needs parent

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Playground Bureau

There's no getting around it, parenthood involves a lot of guilt. Some of it is self-induced ("If I ate more vegetables instead of chocolate chips when pregnant, perhaps he'd understand algebra and not be a nose picker.") and some gets shoveled on by outside sources like in-laws or headlines in newspapers or Martha Stewart. And that's just for normal, average children. If your child falls outside that spectrum, you can expect a triple scoop of blame with sprinkles on top from some pretty unexpected places.

Badger is a mother of two. Her son has Asperger Syndrome and her daughter has a plethora of as yet undiagnosed emotional issues. She recently blogged on a meeting regarding a program to help their daughter and the comments that followed the entry made it clear that her words not only opened a lot of eyes in parents of "normal" kids, it also struck a chord with other special need parents who have had similar experiences.

I just spent two hours listening to some woman tell me why DH and I should pay her organization SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS to teach our girl child how to spell.

This was after she accused DH of being overly critical of the girl and thus causing her confidence problems at school, an accusation that was hurled maybe 10 minutes after she first laid eyes on us and without benefit of her ever having SPOKEN to the girl child except to ask her name. An accusation that was SO COMPLETELY removed from who DH is as a father and the relationship he has with the girl that, in fact, it didn't even register with him when she said it.

But I heard it. And I spent the next hour and 50 minutes struggling not to punch this woman in the head.

If something is wrong with your child's brain, it's all your fault. Yes, it is. You expect too much or too little out of him/her. You are too rigid or not rigid enough. You have too many rules or too few. You work outside the home or you are home all the time. You feed him too much junk or you never let him have any at all. You let her watch too much TV or you never let her watch it so she feels socially awkward. You have him in too many activities. You aren't challenging him enough. You let her go to bed too late or make her go to bed too early.

It's your fault. You did something wrong and now look, you broke the poor kid's brain. I hope you're happy with yourself

Badger' s post weaves heartbreak and humor while masterfully sharing what its feels like to parent the un-average child and should be required reading for everyone who works with specials needs children and their families.


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.