Our guest post is by Dawn Marcotte. who is the CEO of WWW.ASD-DR.com, a website designed to help teens and young adults on the spectrum live to their highest potential.
Disclaimer: For the Star Trek fans out there this article isn't really going to talk about Mr. Spock -Dr. Spock was a famous child specialist in the 60's.
I saw her laying on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs about something. As a young single woman I just went to the next aisle and tried to ignore it, vowing that my children would never do that. Why doesn't mom just pick her up and take her to the car - I'm sure they could come back another time. I wasn't raised that way - I would have gotten spanked for sure if I put up such a fuss in public, or at home for that matter. I could tell by the looks of the other adults that I wasn't the only one who was thinking that.
Fast forward 15 years - God has a sense of humor
Now I am the mother with the child pitching a fit on the floor.
Now I understand that trying to pick her up will just make it worse. All I can do is ride it out and do my best to calm her quickly. This is the first chance I have had in a week to get to the grocery store and if we don't have the right foods she won't eat, so we have to get it done now.
I saw the looks from the other adults in the store and I know what they are thinking - then it hit me:
Who died and made you Dr. Spock? What makes you think I am a bad parent?
In the United States justice system we are supposed to assume innocence until proven guilty - can't we apply that to parenting too?
I think that most parents love their children and we want to do the right things for them.
We want to teach them to be patient, kind, generous, strong, self- reliant, smart, honest etc.
If we assume that all parents want their kids to grow up to be good people, why do we assume that when a child is misbehaving it is the parents fault. That somehow the parent has missed a vital step in raising that child and they need to learn to 'parent' better. Like they forgot to feed them or tell them that screaming in the middle of a store is not acceptable behavior.
We don't think that way about ourselves do we? I know I don't. I happen to think I am a pretty good parent. I have worked hard to help my girls grow up to be intelligent, articulate, strong women who don't just accept what the world tells them. (Unless of course it is me and then they just have to do it because I'm the Mom.) I am not perfect and I have made my share of mistakes along the way, but overall I have tried really hard and I think I have been at least partially successful. At least they are still talking to me and aren't making plans to get AWAY as soon as they can.
Children are actually people too. Yes they have limited life experience, but that doesn't make their emotions any less real. It doesn't make their needs any less important.
It is time to give each other a break. Real life isn't television where Dad is too incompetent to properly care for his own children and moms are too overwhelmed to even know what their children are doing. Neither is it Sesame Street where every adult knows exactly what to do in any given situation. Reality lies somewhere in between.
What if we assumed that the parent in any given situation is doing the best they can? How would that change our reaction?
Would we perhaps he a bit kinder and offer some assistance? Even just a smile and a nod of recognition that we know they are trying their best.
Would that small change in our behavior help other adults to make the same change? How would that change the world?
I think we need to start fresh with each other as parents and adults. Starting today I am going to try very hard to be more supportive of other parents, especially when they are having a hard time.
What do you think about how adults and parents treat each other?