Saturday, October 2, 2010

Get Away from Me with Your "Perfect" Kids - Part 1: Introduction

No, this post isn't a rant - at least, I hope it isn't. Like most of my posts, it's simply designed to raise awareness. In this case, I'm kicking off a series about the sorts of negative comments that parents of children with special needs face.

Being the parent of one or more special needs children is a difficult and often thankless job. Other parents, get praise, excitement and love from their kids - and so do we - but sometimes our kids don't react quite the way we expect. Sometimes they seem less grateful for expensive gifts, less receptive of our hugs and less expressive of positive feelings for us. It's tough for our kids but it's also tough on us as parents.

Sometimes we feel burned by the whole experience - and we don't need someone else to come along and tell us what we're doing wrong - or how much better their child is than ours.

It's a sad fact that sometimes special needs parents express a sort of "evil glee" when they hear about other people with "problem children". Are we bad people because of that?

I hope not.

It's not that we want bad things to happen to others and it's not that we take pleasure in the news. It's just that we crave understanding - and sometimes the only way to truly understand a situation is to experience it.

I was recently reading a page called the "Top Ten Snappy Answers to Annoying Comments" on autism.about.com and I was thinking... "Yes, sometimes I'd love to give those responses out. I've heard most of those annoying comments myself and it would be so satisfying to snap back. Of course, I never would. I'm too respectful of others (or perhaps I'm just conflict-avoidant or chicken?).

Whatever the reason, the thought still stands. Those "out of experience" comments do a lot more harm than good.

In this series, I want to take a look at some of the damaging support groups out there. Now there's a contradiction in terms. The groups I'm talking about could (and usually do) provide a lot of much needed support but then suddenly and without warning they start doing a lot more damage than good.

As a parent, you need to know how to recognise the signs and you need to know when to quit. Hopefully this series will give you some of the clues.

Next Time: I'll start by looking at babyhood and mother's groups.

4 comments:

eaucoin said...

Gavin, it never ceases to amaze me how you come up with fresh ways to approach spectrum issues. I always think about how much more there is to learn when I am surprised by a topic, and I feel like I'm way behind you but headed in the right direction, and it feels hopeful. Thanks for that.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Though I'm not a parent and so this issue doesn't affect my daily life, I will still be interested to read what you have to say. Like eaucoin wrote, I'm impressed with your ability to find "fresh ways to approach spectrum issues."

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

"Sometimes they seem less grateful for expensive gifts, less receptive of our hugs and less expressive of positive feelings for us."

I'm not taking anything away from parents of atypical kids and the challenges involved in parenting, but I just need to point out that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side regarding hugs, gratitude, and positive feelings. My daughter is a gem, and she chooses friends who are like her, but she's unusual. From what I've seen of other apparently neurotypical kids, the level of entitlement, selfishness, and disrespect is very high. Maybe it's different in Australia, but in America, it's really appalling.

amanda said...

Rachel couldnt have said it better... My daughter who ive tried my hardest to make her appreciate the things she has is very self centered and i cant wait for the phase to pass. The disrespect and ungratefulness is enough to drive me bonkers.