Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Brats and Compassion.

Today, an article was published on CNN. While I really don't want to post the link, because I hate giving it more attention, it is here.

And to be honest, it's not the first time recently I've heard people blaming a kid behaving poorly on parents.

Now, to be fair... is it sometimes poor parenting (or as the article above calls it, 'permissive parenting')?


But let me present a different side.

Because we have been THAT family.

The time we were in Target, and the checkout transition that JT dreads started a screaming spree and I overheard a woman saying "I can't *believe* she lets her son act like THAT!" Or the time at Walmart the checker gave me the advice to 'spank him until he felt it' and 'put him in timeout all day until he gets it'. Countless other times I have seen 'the stare' that LZ Granderson talks about giving these parents in the article. Yes, I've been on that side.

And you know what? It SUCKS.

Not to be full of myself, but my husband and I are very good parents. Normal parents don't invest half the time we have in parenting, interventions and other classes. We have had countless professionals in our home, early intervention observations (AKA the government agencies) watching our every move. And you know what? Not ONE SINGLE PERSON has EVER questioned our parenting. In fact, we've gotten countless compliments on parenting our kids.

So an article saying that a child with behavioral issues is just a bad, poorly parented kid really, REALLY rubs me the wrong way.

My son is incredibly sweet. He is very polite and has great manners. He learned 'please' and 'thank you' before he learned the regular vocabulary and labeling of general objects that most kids learn.

For comparison on my parenting, I have a (one week away from) 7 year old who in an entire school year had ZERO minor behavioral issues. She is the only kid in her class who never moved her 'fish' for talking out of turn, being disrespectful or worse. I'm *obviously* doing something right.

But according to LZ and people like him (oh, and there are LOTS), my kids' behavior should be controlled by 'the look'.

Give me a freaking break. My kid is overwhelmed by (likely YOUR) perfume/cologne, by (likely YOUR) loud voice/noises, by bright lights, by unpredictable things... don't you DARE call him a bad kid.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of LZ's article is the premise that airplanes and grocery stores are some sort of adult-only, priviledged thing. I can't avoid grocery shopping with my son sometimes, my husband works a minimum of 60 hours a week. We may have to fly someday - we've never visited our immediate family, it's a 20 hour drive. Now, as far as restaurants and such, my family absolutely tries to be respectful. When we go out to eat (rarely), we choose family restaurants, and plan on one of us walking outside with my son when he gets irritated. I want everyone to enjoy their meal, and will happily box up my food to not disturb other diners.

I've seen the argument 'he's not talking about special needs kids'. Well, hell yes he is. Autism has no distinguishable features. He can't tell if that kid is autistic or not by looking at him. (I've also seen the 'autism is a diagnosis handed out to anyone these days', which is not only incredibly offensive, but insanely ignorant... that is my next post, though... I refuse to address it here because it has no merit).

As angry as I am, all I can say to people like LZ is, autism rates are rising. It's at 1 in 91 the last time I checked, and rising quickly. It's coming to a family near you. You may feel high and mighty now, but it's coming. You WILL know someone close to you that is what you're calling a brat, and you will hang your head in shame when you realize that you're wrong. You might want to show some compassion now, because your 'my kid will never do that' line will bite you in the rear...

And if you're not sure if a kid is a brat or is autistic - and there's no way for you to be sure - go for kindness. Because that kid may not be a brat. They may have been dealt a really crappy hand in life and are doing the best they can. And those parents may be wonderful parents doing their best to navigate a disability. Living a day in their life is harder than you think.


  1. Yuck. I think Chickadee will be steering VERY clear from him. It's such a pity that he can't even extend a small portion of understanding or respect to parents doing something he clearly has no experience in.

    I imagine he wrote this after ONE tired flight, how did he find the nerve? Entitlement? Go fly in Malyasian first class.