Public Parenting… You’re Doing It Wrong

When you post memes which say:

Imagine being a therapist… living with your anxious clients. Always on call. They can knock on your bedroom door at any given moment. They have your private cell phone number when you leave the office. You are the one person in the world they trust with all of their secrets and worries. This is parenting autism.

And make posts which include these words:

There’s that motherly guilt that makes me NOT want to leave him all alone, hanging in the wind, feeling like no one cares about him. On the other side of that, is the feeling of resentment. There’s that whisper, (or maybe it’s a scream) that says, ‘I don’t want to do this!’

 

Just sitting here daydreaming @ night. Hoping that someday [son] will find the right girl who will put up with his crap…I mean inspire him to be all he can be. 
Cheers!” (accompanying a picture of a margarita)

And post screenshots of a text conversation with your child which reads:

Son: I need help.
Mom: On my way to the movies.
Son: Call me please.
Mom: I can’t.
Son: Why not?!?!
Mom: It’s noisy
Son: Excuses.

And you put all of this out for the world to read… you’re doing it wrong. This is the type of Mommy Blogger advocates and activists rail against. This is the type of Mommy Blogger who makes us cringe. Not for the mother, but on behalf of their kids.

This particular mother has chosen pseudonyms for her sons, but still posts their pictures on her page. She posts screenshots of text conversations. She makes memes which are just whinefests regarding her self-induced stress levels. She is not a parent, she is a hostage of her own making. Of course, she touts her hard work making her sons successful young men… but I see far more complaining and negativity on her page than boasting and positivity.

And almost everything she writes is about her and how her sons affect her. Very little is discussed why they behave the way they do or giving much context to her whining, aside from what a burden they are to her and her life. This is not a support page for anyone but the mother. It does not further the betterment of the autistic individuals in question, nor does it serve a genuinely productive purpose for the parents. This is not support, it is venting and it is shaming her children in the process, for her own selfish purposes.

I was banned from the page this morning (confession: I never “liked” the page in the first place, so no loss to me) after the following exchange took place on the meme I cited above…

Me: That’s called parenting.

 

J: It is a hell of its own some days you have to scream I dont give a fuck or get me the fuck out of here. Of course I say that mumbling as I walk away. Your sanity comes first…cant help others unless you have yours first.  Yes, it is parenting but it is a different experience, until you walk it and talk it you have no idea…just my opinion.

 

Me: “Just my opinion” …I am getting so sick of reading that, like people think it’s some sort of out from being held accountable for their words. We know it’s your opinion. That’s like saying, “By the way, I wrote words.” We know. We read it.

 

What is written here is BS. Plain and simple. It is parenting and it is hard. Parenting an autistic individual is different, but not harder. It’s just hard in a different way. ALL parents have those days. All of them. Using the kid’s neurology as an excuse for needing to protect your sanity doesn’t fly. ALL parents need to employ self-care. All of them, regardless of their kid’s status as neurotypical, autistic, disabled, abled, whatever.

 

However, being available to your child at all times is part of being a parent. That’s your position as a parent; to be a guide, a support, an unconditional provider of love. Not just when you feel like it. It’s for life.

 

L: I parent an Autistic child and I agree with [me]. Our kids deserve respect no matter how hard of a time we are having. Self care is important but when it comes at the expense of someone else’s dignity and humanity, you’re doing it wrong.

 

Page Admin: Who are you to say what is harder for someone else? I’ve parented both typical neurology and autistic …autistic is definitely harder for me …for many.

 

Page Admin: By the way [me] we are a judgment free zone. You don’t have to agree, but don’t judge someone else’s experience.

 

Me: Who am I? Someone who I knows. Who is [L]? Also someone who knows. 

 

It’s harder because you make it harder. I’ve read your page and it disgusts me. You have no respect for your kids’ privacy; using pseudonyms isn’t the end all be all. You say hurtful, disrespectful things about them. You post text conversations. You shame them for being themselves. All while using their pictures, so they’re not exactly hidden. But even without their pictures, your words are more of an indictment of your own poor parenting than their perceived misdeeds inconveniencing you. Turn that judgment on yourself. Ask why they behave the manner they do; behavior is communication. If you are unwilling to learn their method of communication and meet their needs (and they are needs, not wants)… you shouldn’t have been a parent in the first place. And I have no qualms in saying that.

 

And since I know you’ll lash out at me before absorbing anything I’ve had to say, as is typical for self-absorbed parents who refuse to turn the magnifying glass on their own behaviors, I’ll bow out of this and let you attempt to project your insecurities on me (just as you do on your children).

 

Me: P.S. Stop judging your children if it’s a judgement-free zone. Don’t be a hypocrite.

 

Page Admin: Then why the hell are you here? Good bye.

 

Me: Because someone needs to call you on your self-absorbed bulls–t for once. Toodles.

And then I was banned, because the page administrator knew I was correct. She would just project her issues upon me and probably unleash a further tirade of dismissive nonsense about how I didn’t know her, her sons, and “my autism” isn’t the same as her sons and I’m not a parent, so how dare I pass judgement upon her?

Well, here’s how: she’s making her life public and is open to scrutiny. Just as I am with this page. She chooses to share certain aspects of her life – mostly focusing on how negatively being a parent has affected her life – and I’m just supposed to read her missives, which are disrespectful and demeaning to her sons, and wholly inauthentic to what is truly causing her strife (hint: it’s not autism, it’s how she chooses to react to situations). She lays blame to neurology rather than her lack of mindfulness. She projects her own feelings of inadequacy upon others and, in turn, is psychologically (emotionally) abusing her sons.

And yes, it absolutely is abusive behavior on her part to tell her son, who clearly felt he needed help in that moment, that she was busy going to the movies. She didn’t ask what he needed help with or ask him to qualify his request. She dismissed him outright. And if he was asking for help as a plea for attention, she presented the situation without clear context and should be held accountable for that. Again, potential unauthentic representation of the reality, as a means of gaining pity and/or sympathy… if that’s the case, she’s exploiting her sons’ existence and private conversations with them  to build up her own sense of self-worth.

Now, there are many parents out there who will see this as me bashing this particular Mommy Blogger. Keep this in mind: She bashes autism (projecting). She bashes her sons (projecting). She bashes herself (and in turn, projects upon others). She dismisses anyone who disagrees with her, demanding that everyone follow a “judgement free zone” policy, yet most of what she posts is full of judgements. She is snarky and downright mean to her own children. Setting boundaries is important, but enacting those boundaries can be done in a respectful manner. What she does comes off as actively pushing her sons away, not setting boundaries. This Mommy Blogger repeatedly indicates she’s resentful of her family… does she consider that maybe her actions make them resent her in return? And even worse… resent themselves?

I am not bashing here. I am laying out truths and observations based on those truths. The truths I offer are based on the reality she presents on her page. The page, where she demands people not lay judgement upon her, and where she also does nothing but judge her sons and their ability to thrive within the dysfunctional environment she has provided for them.

She sees herself as burdened with a job she clearly does not want, which is why she likens her position to being an unwilling therapist, always on call… rather than understanding that being a parent to ANY child entails being a therapist, a protector, a mentor, a friend, a teacher,  a cook, a housekeeper, a chauffeur, a tutor, a nurse, a banker, a personal trainer, an activities director, and many more vocations rolled into one. You don’t parent autism, you parent your child. You don’t have it harder as the parent of an autistic kid… you just have to parent differently.

So many parents of autistic kids like to say, “If you’ve met one autistic child, then you’ve met one autistic child.” This means that every autistic child is a unique individual and they tend to parade this quote around as a means to say I don’t know what their kid goes through, since I’m obviously an autistic adult who can clearly communicate via a keyboard, so that means I’m not autistic enough to understand. Guess what? I was a kid once, too… and autistic then. So, I get it (and I certainly get it more than a non-autistic adult might).

Every human is an individual with autonomy. We all learn differently, adapt differently, have different wants, and different preferences regardless of our neurology. The one thing which ties us together is we ALL have the same basic human needs. How we require those needs be met, however, can differ. And that’s where you have to learn how to parent differently, whether your child is autistic or not.

Parenting two non-autistic children can differ greatly, just as much as parenting one autistic child and one non-autistic child can differ greatly. Parenting is as hard as you make it and parenting an autistic child isn’t harder… just hard in a different way. You can make the conscious decision to be mindful and strive to adapt to how your child’s needs are met, making things less hard. But that’s up to you.

It frightens me when parents like this particular Mommy Blogger are considered (even if self-appointed) to be members of the advocacy community and/or as ideal people to look to for parenting advice. These are not people advocating for us. Their blogs/pages/groups are an echo chamber for those who thrive upon tearing down others in order to build themselves up again, on an ever-tilting pedestal.  These are people who are advocating for themselves and utilizing their audience for personal individual support, as opposed to making a conscious decision to be mindful and enact positive change to foster a supportive and fulfilling environment for their children. If that is not your primary objective and the predominant message of your writing as a parental blogger, and if you’re not amplifying the voices of the community you seek to advocate for, then you’re doing it wrong.