- Parents are too undisciplined and create mirror image children...
- Parents are too ignorant to provide an acceptable level of accountability or training for their children.
Innocently, my friend who successfully raised wonderful neuro-typical children posted a picture on Facebook of a wide leather belt with the words emblazoned across the photo, "The original ADHD medicine". The obvious implication is that good ole discipline will "cure" all that ails the ADHD child. The joke hit me as being about as funny as racist humor. It just isn't. Period. Ever.
We know what it feels like to be “that” family.
For families who are raising children with authentic neuro-psychiatric differences, judgment is cast upon both the child and parents ad nauseam. The children are "misbehaving brats" and the assumption is that either:
Families raising children with hidden disabilities deal with the added challenges of child rearing AND the unrighteous judgments made against them. Judgment isolates families and undermines every ounce of support a typical family may enjoy facing normal parenting hardships. The net result is that families who actually need the most understanding and support, actually receive the least.
For the countless re-posters of the Internet meme, don't think for a minute that such "humor" made at the expense of struggling families is throwing Big Pharma under the bus. Big Pharma is not listening. But someone is listening. All the families who are in your sphere who are dealing with neurology issues in their own homes are listening. And your message produces bad fruit.
For the parent who is still ignorant of the reality of neurology’s impact on behavior and self control in their children, judgment may compel them to exert even more ineffectual pressure on their misbehaving child in the form of harsher and hasher discipline culminating in abuse. Discipline will never cure neurology.
For the parent who is aware that the challenges they face are resultant from a hidden disability, judgment through insensitive jesting may hurt and isolate them further.
I fail to see the humor in either of these outcomes.
Guilty by Association
I have both friends and family with adopted children, and I understand that these precious wee ones are loved with the same fierceness as I love my own biological children. But my friend raising her adopted child with paranoid schizophrenia mentioned recently that she does not have accusatory Mommy guilt. Sometimes Guilt attaches like a leech in hidden fleshy places, draining away parental confidence by injecting lies of personal culpability for the suffering of our progeny. That’s difficult enough.
But then there are those who make assumptions about our mental health, and accuse us as parents raising biological children with hidden disabilities. For instance, I was enjoying a new friend a few years ago, a godly woman whom I respected. I am a professional level intercessor, meaning I get paid to pray for individuals and corporations, a job I immensely enjoy. God began giving me “downloads” daily to pray for my friend, a new experience outside of my employment. Although those who know me well, love me and consider me stable and emotionally healthy, she assumed I was obsessive compulsive by my attentive faithful intercession. Our relationship quickly crashed and burned.
Not only was I misunderstood, but I was misunderstood in such a way as to emphasize in a searing way the pain my daughter feels routinely. My imaginary mental health issue made me an “unsuitable” friend for a “mature” Christian woman. God help us. They will know we are Christians by our love, remember?
I’m trying to teach my children to rise above the stigma and reject the shame offered by society. In retrospect, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to be considered guilty by association if it gives me the opportunity to stand by my children in solidarity.
A safe gathering place of friends who understand
Two of our three children have Tourette's Syndrome as well as a few other co-morbidities, inherited neuropsychiatric disorders. I'm still happily married, love life and want to share encouragement bringing hope, humor and insight into the process of raising children who are different.