When a child is struggling, one technique is quick. It’s easy. It cost no money. Yet it skirts any sense of personal responsibility – while undermining the spirit of cooperation.
In other words, blame the parent.
Some naysayers attempt to show empathy. With so many challenges, I’m sure you don’t where to start.
Others come across more direct. I really need you to do more at home.
A few are blunt. You are the cause of your child’s problems.
Sadly, all miss the mark of actually helping the child – especially those with special needs, whether from cognitive delays and learning disabilities or early trauma and exposure to toxins in the womb.
Rather than engaging the parent in a thoughtful dialogue – versus a monologue, blaming mom or dad does the opposite. It creates divisiveness.
One side disrupts the balance of power. One opinion becomes more valued. One voice speaks over the other.
And the loser is the child – caught in the middle.
Yet blaming the parent – without relevant facts – is a far-too-common practice in society. Yes, some parents are slackers. Others are enablers. They forget who’s the adult and who’s the child.
But the majority of parents mean business. They remain involved in the life of the child. Day in and day out.
That’s because parents know their children best – in nearly every case. They might not use fancy words. They might not understand the latest jargon or technical terms. They might lack financial resources for outside interventions not covered by insurance.
Nevertheless, no group of people has the same level of intimate experiences with the child. No one.
All someone has to do is engage the parent and show respect.
Which individuals work best with your child? How does your child learn? Give me an example.
Which subjects produce the most excitement? The least interest? Do you use the library?
When does your child become anxious? What about fears?
What do they like to do with you? With other kids? With siblings?
Have you pursued any therapy? Medications? How have they helped?
Who supports your family emotionally? Do you have any natural supports?
At the same time, be forewarned. The written information in your child’s medical, school, and mental health records might not be complete. It might not be detailed. It might not be properly interpreted. It might not even be legible.
Frankly, it might not be accurate. And don’t get me started on rumors or false allegations – which often trigger blame.
Over the years with my six children, I’ve been on the receiving end of “misinformation” too many times to count. At school. In doctor’s and therapist’s offices. Through the juvenile justice or child welfare system.
Meanwhile, extended family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers and church members can pull the “blame card” too, when their support would be greatly appreciated. Their rush to judgment hurts all the more – often when least expected.
Written words or gossip aren’t always the same as facts. They may not tell your family’s story. But you can – if given the opportunity to share and be diplomatic, not demanding.
Furthermore, professionals for the most part focus on the here and now. Parents, however, are invested in the success of their children for the long haul. Not just today but hopefully for a lifetime.
My daughter said it best one day when speaking to a younger sibling who was attempting to triangulate – and pit an outsider against me. People who are paid are doing a job. They won’t be around long and will never care as much as our father. He’s the one who will always be there for us.
Although a handful of parents somehow dodge the huge obstacles that other parents encounter, most face numerous challenges along the way. Many deal with them daily. Some endure extreme difficulties that the majority of professionals have never experienced in real time – only through a hypothetical situation in a training manual.
That’s why blaming the parent makes absolutely no sense in children with complex conditions.
And blaming leads to shame – and no parents needs that. Not from anyone.
When was the last time that a professional simply said the following to you?
Parenting is hard work. No one has all the answers. We all make mistakes yet can learn from them. Today we need to work together to discuss ways for your child to grow emotionally, mentally and physically.
Let’s start by identifying the most pressing issues.
Let’s set reasonable expectations.
What does current testing say about your child? Does it need to be updated?
Let’s assign responsibilities to each other. Here’s what I can offer. What can you offer?
How can we both reinforce progress and create an environment for more of the same.
Let’s discuss supports for you and your child.
Let’s communicate the same message to your child.
Let’s encourage one another, since no one can bear the burden alone.
Once expectations are achieved, let’s raise the bar a little higher.
Unfortunately, that approach is not routinely given serious consideration or put into action. Almost like parents are to be seen and not heard.
So I say to the world. Stop blaming parents and learn from them. Their insight is invaluable – and it can save time, money and unnecessary grief.
If you – as the parent – aren’t asked the right questions, stop the one-sided conversation immediately and redirect. Be rationale and save emotions for later. Emphasize a spirit of cooperation. Then turn the table and ask the questions yourself.
After all, you are your child’s #1 advocate – and always will be. DCP
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold