Tag Archives | parenting

Over protective parents, you need to stop doing this

I’ve witnessed this in person, in social media and since starting my Autcraft server, I see it far too often. It’s a bit tough to explain exactly what “it” is but here it goes. I’m going to say “you” a lot. Don’t take it personally if it’s not how you are, I’m just being rhetorical.

Public Shaming

So many times, way too often, I see a parent upset that their child got in trouble on the server or at school or in social groups and their first reaction is to make a public spectacle of it. It’s a “screaming from the mountain tops” situation that requires calling out the people that punished their child for the evil organization that they must be. There are no questions, no information shared… just a call for blood.

I can not stress this enough but you just can not do this. I mean, yes, there are times you may be right and that organization needs to be exposed but most of the time, the majority of the time I’d wager, you’d probably not be so quick to take such actions if you knew all the details.

Children do get into trouble. That’s the nature of being a child. Sometimes it’s even your child. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

If you make a public spectacle of your child getting into trouble and demand details for all to see, all you are doing is shaming your child… in public. On the Autcraft server, we know that other players visit the forums, the fan pages, the twitter account… they read it all because they love the server. So when you post, saying that your child got into big trouble and you’re angry and you demand to know why, you are publicly putting your child’s bad behaviours on display for all to see and to judge and to feel strongly about.

Why do it? Well, I suppose you want everyone to see how they treated your child. Perhaps you want the public to rally around you and support you. Perhaps you just think it’s the best way to get answers. Even if any of these things happen, even if you get the anger fueled vengeance that you’re after, you have still left your child on display for the world to see. You’ve still made your child into a spectacle.

A Better Way

The Internet is an amazing tool to use when you want justice. If someone is wronged, you share your story, others will share it and it will come back to haunt the person that did wrong. It will provide the judge, jury and punishment that you seek. But in being such a judging entity, you have to choose more carefully what you are giving it to judge.

Your child may have done something very very wrong and now you are basically asking the Internet to judge them for it. Or your child may have done nothing wrong but is still going to become the focal point of a very ugly and nasty bit of drama for all to see and people will not remember it fondly, no matter who is right or wrong. They don’t even remember what it was about but they’ll remember your child.

There’s 2 things that I suggest you keep in mind.

  1. If you are angry, step away from the keyboard, walk away, take a deep breath. You have to gather your thoughts and feelings before you do something you may regret. Yes, those emotions may empower you to say the things you need to say that you wouldn’t say otherwise but it will also impair your judgment. You will make things public that shouldn’t be public, you will accuse people of terrible things that they may not have done. You will make assumptions that likely have a very different and simple explanation.
  2. Seek the details in private before you take anything public. If you need to know what your child did, ask in private and then take it public if still necessary after, but even then, I’d still advise against that. But if you absolutely must, if you do have a justifiable reason and people need to know about it, at least have the facts first. Don’t ask for those facts in public because you may not like what you just invited everyone to know. I am almost certain that your child wouldn’t either.

Your Child’s Drama is Not Your Drama to Share

There is not always a way to talk to someone in private but most of the time there is. You owe it to your child to seek those out before you make them a public display. Put yourself in your child’s shoes or better yet, think back to when you were a child. If you did something wrong, would you really want your parents to go on local television demanding details only to have a list of all the bad things you did show up on the 6 o’clock news?

I do get it, I’m over protective as well but in my duty to protect my children, I have to protect them from myself as well. I share openly about them here on my blog but I am very careful to never bring them shame. If they do wrong, they are spoken to, other parties that are involved are spoken to and we all learn and move forward. There is never ever any reason that I need for you or anyone else in the public to know about it.

Fight that urge to hurt the people that you think hurt your child. Your child might be innocent, they might not be, but making them a public drama story is not the way to go about getting to the bottom of anything. Share your drama all you want but don’t make your child’s drama public.

If you don’t want your child to be judged or bullied, stop giving people a reason to. You are their advocate and their protector. Stop making their drama public.

Comments { 1 }

Hate me, for I am but a lowly autism parent!

Oh, the ‘anti-parent’ movement grows. It grows!!! There is a small band of self righteous, holier than thou haters out there that insist on finding faults in us all. If they can’t find faults, they’ll just compare you to someone that they did find faults in because we’re both parents so, hey, if the shoe fits…

Fine, fine I say! Bring it on. Hate me if you must. Not only do I not care (after all, what you think of me is none of my business) but I sat here pondering… if they must go to such lengths, the least I could do is make it easier for them.

So here is my list of reasons that you should hate me, for I am but a lowly autism parent.

  • I try to change my child ever single day. Both of them!! That’s right. Autism, no autism… I don’t care. I change them. And I like it.  One of them is mean to their brother? Damn right I stop it. Both of them fighting over nothing? Time outs all around!! Not saying please and thank you today? Best believe they’ll be changed children come tomorrow. Don’t know how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism? Time to pick up a book kids, you’ll study till you’re changed and you’ll like it! Judging some other kid because they’re different from you? That changes… NOW. Yeah, I want to change my kids. Not because I don’t love them the way they are but because I do.
  • Drugs and therapy for all!! What? You’re not suppose to use meds on your kids? I guess that fever should just run out of control until it’s hospital time then huh? Oh, that infection? Who needs anti-biotics??? Super hyper? Unable to sleep? Super depressed?? As strange as I am but any time I have to choose between a doctor recommended prescription or a child that is unable to do anything due to what that prescription could help… I choose the prescription. Oh, therapy too. One child didn’t talk until he was older than 3, so I paid $150/h that I didn’t have to get him speech therapy, cause I’m an evil parent like that. Now his vocabulary is right on track and he reads books that are 2 grades higher than his age level… you should hate that. He’s doing so much better than he would have if I just accepted him for who he was and let him be. Hate me!!
  • ABA is so cool!! My son went and played with other kids and was encouraged to be kind, courteous and even engage other children in conversation. He even started conversations!! From there we went out for lunch and he met more children. You should hate me for that because hey… ABA right?
  • The things I say… oh man, they’re great things and come from the heart but the way that some people can magically turn them into the most vile, attrocious non-sense with a single wave of their “what I hear when you say” wand… and man, I even hate myself! I can’t believe “I love you” could mean so many terrible things. But you manage to twist it up enough and I disgust even myself.
  • I struggle. You should definitely just toss me in the pit for that one. I mean, no sleep, huge debt, emotional strain, lost marriage, hours and hours of meetings, appointments… you know, years and years and years of giving 110% for my children, with and without autism… you should definitely just kick me in the head now for how much you hate me because this is about my child, right? It’s all about what he feels so I am not allowed to feel anything. None of any of what I go through is even really happening. It’s just pixie dust in the wind that I make up and pretend makes me tired so that I can say that it can be hard on me sometimes too. I hate me for even being tired. I mean, come on… 4 hours sleep, 3 meltdowns, hours at the IEP meetings, therapy and grocery shopping for gluten free food I can’t afford… that’s just today! I shouldn’t be tired at all. Stop pretending it’s real dammit. See, even I hate me.
  • My child is happy. Yup, I said it. He has friends and is doing well… not abused in the slightest, not alienated or singled out… not at all the autism life that you anti-parent hater types seem to profess that a life of autism is supposed to be. I don’t fit into the mold. I don’t have a say. I’m a pox on the community. I made sacrifices and worked my tail off and did absolutely everything I could and more and now my child is happy… I’m a terrible parent. You should hate me. I’m sure it goes against everything you believe a parent should be or that an autistic child should be with their parent… happy. Sheesh!
  • I don’t hate everyone else. That’s a big one. You should hate me for that. Those other parents that want a cure for their kids? I don’t hate them. Those other autistics that want themselves to be cured? I don’t hate them either!! Those people that struggle for acceptance, for understanding, for awareness, for finances, for an IEP that works, for a few more hours sleep, for more education, for more understanding law makers and enforcers… for… well, for it all really… I don’t hate a single one of them. For that you should definitely hate me. It’s almost like I’m on their side. On everyone’s side! It’s almost like… I care.
  • I’m not every other parent. Another big reason to hate me. Yeah, I know that some parents do over medicate and some take drastic actions when things get too hard and some people really are just lousy stinking parents. You should hate me for not being them. I mean, I’m a parent, just like they are, but aside from that, we have practically nothing in common at all. And you hate them right? You should totally hate me too because if you hate them, and I’m nothing like them at all, that’s more than enough reason to hate me too.

Oh anti-parent squad, if you didn’t hurt so many people, you’d make me laugh. But you do hurt folks. Good folks who are good parents. And you hate them before you know them.

And there’s nothing funny about it.

I don’t hate you, but I do wish you would just stop.

In the mean time, you should hate me. Because I’m a parent and I have a child with autism. And the one thing that having a child with autism and you haters hating me will have always in common is… I’ll enjoy every second of it.

Tyler and Cameron

Tyler and Cameron

Comments { 27 }

To the non-special needs parents that feel they need to give me advice

If you have a child, or children, and none of them have special needs, but you still feel you have all the answers and just have to give me advice on how to raise my children that do have special needs, I want you to consider this:

You know how annoying and frustrating it is when non-parents think they know everything and tell you how to raise your children when the reality is, they really don’t have a clue?

Yeah, that’s how you are to me right now.

cara-advice

Comments { 6 }

Somewhere along the way, I became a parent. This is how I know it’s true.

Somewhere along the way I became a parent. I’m not entirely sure why but all of a sudden, it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Was it when my first child was born? No, I don’t think so. At that point, I became a dad, sure. But for the most part, waking up to bring the baby to his mom for feedingss and changing some diapers really didn’t make me a real parent. I was responsible for this little, very much dependent and fragile life but that wasn’t it.

Perhaps it was I had to start putting my name in the “parent or guardian” forms at schools and hospitals… I remember looking at those forms and thinking to myself, I can’t believe my name goes here. But even that wasn’t really it. That was just paperwork.

I know it wasn’t when my son was diagnosed with autism because that made me feel like anything but a parent. I was feeling more lost and scared than most times in my life that I could remember. I got over it quickly though as I learned more and my son impressed me all along the way but still, that wasn’t it.

I really thought the moment that I became a parent was when my boys would do something wrong and I’d open my mouth only to hear words that I thought only my mother would ever say. I was suddenly watching my own childhood from a totally different perspective. I had, in effect, put myself in my mothers shoes and at that point, I thought to myself, “wow, I must really be a parent now”. That was a very good start but that wasn’t it either. That was me playing the role, I think. It slapped the thought across my face but it still hadn’t sunk in quite yet I think.

Dead: 12-year old Alex Swigart saved his dad's life after waking he and his girlfriend up when their mobile home caught fire

Dead: 12-year old Alex Swigart saved his dad’s life after waking he and his girlfriend up when their mobile home caught fire

Then, as I became more involved in the autism community and started getting more and more information fed to me by an ever evolving social media, I started to come across stories like this one, where a 12 year old boy with autism saved his family, only to die in the fire himself. It’s not the story itself that got to me, although it is tragic. It’s one sentence in the story, that made my heart sink. It was this:

Fighting back tears he said: ‘I yelled inside the window and I heard him call to me, “Daddy I can’t breathe!”‘

I didn’t read the rest of the article beyond that until the next day. I couldn’t. All I could think about what how hard that must have been, to hear his child… the most precious and important thing in his life ever, calling out to him, in pain, and being powerless to do anything about it.

I’ve read stories like this before. It never hurt me like this.

It’s been happening a lot lately too. Stories that would have saddened me before but never felt like a knife in my heart like it does too, are crossing my path at an ever increasing rate.

Loss: Autistic 6-year-old Dylan Hockley died in the arms of his special education teacher in another classroom; his parents have set up a memorial fund of their own to help children with autism and special needs

Loss: Autistic 6-year-old Dylan Hockley died in the arms of his special education teacher in another classroom; his parents have set up a memorial fund of their own to help children with autism and special needs

Another example was the Sandy Hook shootings, in which the entire ordeal was a tragedy… but what really hit home the hardest was little Dylan Hockley, a 6 year old boy with autism. In this story, once again, I was reading it with a heavy heart as I normally would but then I got to this part and I just felt crushed:

“He said that Anne Marie Murphy had been found with her arms wrapped around Dylan … that is what we had hoped for — in a very strange sort of way to hope for something.”

“She loved him and he loved her and she would’ve looked after him no matter what,” she says, fighting back tears. “To know that he was with her, and that he wasn’t alone, that gives you a huge peace of mind … to know that he was loved even in those last moments.”

I can’t stop seeing, in my mind, what it must have been like to be terrified, holding this little boy that is terrified too, despite having no idea what is going on and to know what’s coming and then…

I keep putting myself in these people’s shoes. I can’t help it anymore. I can’t not see the little innocent faces with so much life left to live and their parents that were powerless to help them.

I can’t imagine what those people are going through but it doesn’t stop me from imagining it’s me anyway. It doesn’t stop me from thinking about how much it hurts just to think about that happening to me… to my own child.

That’s how I know I’m a parent. That’s how I know I’m not just some guy looking after some kids.

I can’t read these stories like I used to. I can’t watch the videos like I used to. It doesn’t just sadden me anymore. It hurts. I really really hurts.

Before I had children, even for a while after, when other parents would tell me that your perspective of the world would change, that the way you feel about a lot of things would change, I thought I understood. I didn’t.

I can’t read the last words of a dying child anymore. Not without shedding a tear, or more. Not without profound feelings that will affect me for a while after.

That’s how I know I’m a parent.

Comments { 1 }

Parenting a child with autism is hard, being chastised for saying so is harder

Parenting is hardI’ve been an autism blogger for a while now and as such, I’ve also been an autism blog reader. I love to read the experiences and lessons from other parents, other autistics (I was diagnosed with Aspergers myself) and even from others such as care givers and “experts”. It’s all information for the learning.

One aspect of reading those other blogs is that it hurts to see a parent that just isn’t coping well. For what ever reason, they’re reaching or have reached their breaking point. It’s not that their child is bad, or impossible to handle, it’s just that the struggles have become to heavy to hold any longer. The “little things” have added up and the parent is reaching their nervous breakdown point.

I know that they’re reaching that point because they write about it. Which is good! It really is. Because that release combined with what should be support from other parents and people in the community may just be what holds off that nervous breakdown for one more day or week or month. Getting it off their chest or hearing from others, it’s a big part of why we write. Not just to share but also to reach out for help sometimes, or just to get something out there when there’s no one else close by to listen.

Most often times, that is exactly what happens. People come in to support them. But it’s not always like that.

Sometimes that parent comes under attack for making public the struggles they have with their child. Sometimes they’re made to feel much worse.

Here’s why: When you write, as a parent of a child with autism, you’re writing about autism but you’re also writing about your child. Publicly.

That means that all of the things you say about your child is out there, for the world to read, forever. Including your child when they get older. Including your child’s friends and peers as they get older. And when they do, will they see themselves as a burden on you? Will they think that you just always saw them as some broken kid that made your life hell?

These are all fair points and in many cases, parents choose to write anonymously, either never using names or by using fake names. Some parents just try their best to never “air their dirty laundry” and some parents are simply afraid to put themselves out there because they know that the attacks will be coming if they do.

The ironic thing is though, that when I visit parenting blogs, the ones that are just about parenting with no special needs people in the family at all, there is all kinds of complaining going on. Late nights, early mornings, long car trips, horrendous trips in a plane, toilet training, troubles eating, weeks of being sick and on and on and on.

And when I think back, the very first memories I have after telling people that I’ll be having my first child is of family and friends that are already parents telling me to kiss my sleep goodbye and that I’m going to lose my hair (faster anyway) and the grey hairs will be coming in full force now and on and on and on… again.

Of course, those people had no idea just how right they really were going to be since they didn’t have a child with autism… but I digress.

The thing is, parenting is hard. And parents need help sometimes, even if it’s just to vent or to tell other parents how hard has been or it’s going to be. That’s why there are parenting support groups! And they don’t have children with special needs!

Sometimes it seems as though it’s ok to whine, cry and complain and even make light of how incredibly difficult parenting is but if the child has any special needs, then it’s no longer ok to ever say anything about the struggles ever. That you’re going to damage your child for life by talking about how hard it is to be their parent.

I am not saying that it’s ok to make your child out to be some monster on the internet for all people to see for all time. You do need to choose your words carefully, even when emotionally driven, to ensure that it’s the situation that frustrates you, not the child. To help people understand that there is no love lost and you do not blame your child but that the lack of sleep or the frustration in failures is driving you to reach out for support… it’s not your child to blame.

Remember that what you say can be read for many years and have effects later on in life that you can’t foresee now.

But at the same time, if you’re reading something from someone and they’ve reached the edge of the cliff, a push is not what they need. They need you to pull them back up.

If you see a parent turning their child into “the bad guy” for all to see, that’s not ok and they need to be educated on the ramifications of their words. But educate them, don’t attack them.

If that person’s child is whom you are trying to protect, will pushing their mom or dad over the cliff really help them? Will making them too afraid to ever reach out again help that child? Will pushing a butt load of guilt on them for ruining their child’s future in one little blog post really be the best way to help that child out right now?

Parenting is hard. Period. Autism makes it ever so much harder. Even when the child is doing amazing, parenting is still hard.

Try not to make it harder, even if the good intentions are there.

Educate, not attack.

Comments { 14 }