Mommy wars: judging parenting decisions without knowing the whole story

By | November 10, 2013

Few things can disrupt a family’s routine like the birth of a child who doesn’t fit the standard mold. With autism rates in the U.S. approaching 1 in 88, and diagnoses of ADHD and behavioral/mood disorders increasing as well, it’s a struggle for a lot of families. It can force you to rethink every notion you ever had about how you would parent. And the judgment of other parents can make it even harder. Here is an open letter to moms of “typical” children from moms who are finding themselves having to adjust to something other than what they expected.

Dear mom of a typical kid,

I know how this looks. I know you  think I just need to put my foot down and insist my child conform. But I’d like to suggest to you that he’s doing the best he can, and so am I. Here are a few things I’d like you to know:

  1. No, I don’t think my child’s behavior is OK. Despite what it may look like, I’m really not OK with my child screaming at me, refusing to obey, etc. I haven’t just given up and decided to accept it. I may not always make the best decision at any given moment, but it’s always, and I mean always, at the top of my mind. I make mistakes, but I haven’t capitulated.
  2. If it were as easy as finding the right discipline strategy and applying it consistently, do you really think I’d still be putting up with this? I’d have fixed it a hell of a long time ago. I also would have written a book and retired to the islands. Think about it…if I could fix something that neither doctors, psychologists, nor the pharmaceutical industry has been able to fix, I’d be a genius. And a gazillionaire. So maybe it’s a bit more complicated.
  3. Just because you don’t see the consequences doesn’t mean there are none. Telling him he’s lost all game privileges when he’s in the middle of a public meltdown is not going to be helpful. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to lose them; it just means I’m going to wait and tell him when we’re at home.
  4. I actually care quite a lot how my child’s behavior affects other people. I do everything I know to minimize it. I agree that there’s a limit to what you or your child should have to deal with, and I’m more than willing to work with you. But a child with an infuriating disability is still a child with a disability. So, yeah…sometimes you’re not going to enjoy being around him. And that doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means that I’m not willing to lock him in the attic.

Unfortunately, we moms have a bad habit of judging each other. What about you? What are some other situations in which moms might give each other a break if they knew the whole story?

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