I have to tell you that I ran into political correctness run amok the other day. It’s as if you can’t tell someone they did something wrong. I post on discussion boards discussing the care and upbringing of children on the autism spectrum. This was not a board I generally visit that often, but it was one with interesting questions. Well, one woman posted that she wanted to know if her daughter’s actions was normal pre-adolescent or a more serious issue. The child had been cutting up anything that the mother had given to her, including her own hair because the mother had insisted on a specific type of haircut for her. When the parents found out about the destruction, this woman proudly told everyone, that not only was the child (remember it is an autism related board) sent to bed without supper, but she was also spanked.
I have to admit I got very upset. Not only is this a sign of real trouble and I told the woman you have to put your child in therapy. But the fact that this is occurring, you are unaware of it and your reaction is to hit, oh and it was the father who did the hitting, shows that as parents you have lost control of your house. I told her she needs to organize this child. Create behavior charts, set down strict rules and consequences for actions. That everything needs to be spelled out so this child truly understands what is expected and what is appropriate. None of which by the way was being done. Well, not only did almost ten or more posters say there was nothing unusual with what the child was doing, just testing the waters they said, but that it seems it’s ok to hit your autistic children. Then she goes on to tell us that the younger brother who told about the destruction got punished for tattling. OK, he has a violent and destructive obviously aggressive older sister and he gets punished for seeking safety with his parents. Again, these same posters told her that she is a good mother and to keep doing what she was doing.
Now I ask you, am I nuts? When did the Academy of Pediatrics tell us it’s ok to physical hurt your children, NT or autistic? When was there a study that proved its ok and produces good results when you hit? When did any child specialist say it was a good thing to rob your children of their parental security and take away the parental safety net by punishing a child for coming to you with a problem? It was beyond me that so many people thought what she was doing was a good thing. Needless to say not only was this woman unapologetic but she insisted that spanking is the way they show their utmost displeasure and it was not a sign that they were out of control, because the spanking was controlled. How you can consider the assault of an eight year old child by a grown man controlled is beyond me. Well I don’t know if the child got that lesson, because the next day she would not talk to her mother and spit at her father. But something told me she learned that you can hurt others if they are smaller than you and that when you are angry and frustrated physical violence is acceptable.
The actual post that really made me wonder about some parents, yes there was more, is another woman who wrote back that I was being judgmental because everyone has different parenting styles. Not only is it not judgmental to give an opinion when it is asked for, which is the purpose of the board, what is this politically correct nonsense that you can’t question someone’s actions because all parents do it differently. I told them that they had better consult with psychologists/psychiatrist, developmental specialists, therapist of all kinds and if all else fails open a parenting book. I also told them that their child’s disability is not about them. Their job is to seek out answers to help their child, not feel sorry for themselves because the situation is hard. Don’t come asking for opinions if all you want is someone to tell you that you are wonderful. For that, find a girlfriend and go out to lunch. (Told you I got really mad) This poster reminded me of the cultural relevancy argument. We cannot question another society’s mistreatment of their citizens because it is part of their culture, especially if the powers that be base the mistreatment on a religious credo. I wonder how we got to this level of ridiculousness.
Sometimes right is right and wrong is wrong. To say that it is ok because it has always been done that way or it is based on culture suggests that mankind is too stupid to fix ourselves. That we are unable to understand that mistakes have been made in the past and that growth whether emotionally, intellectually or psychologically is something beyond us. All of us, no matter where you live and who you are should just stop trying to understand the world around us and not find a better way.
I just don’t get it and I never will. I will never understand people that refuse to acknowledge that they did something wrong, I guess it’s the same as the “My child is perfect” religious cult I talked about in an earlier post. I suppose it applies to, “I’m also a Perfect Parent” religious cult. One of the main things I have learned over these decades of raising the boys is that no one is perfect and that everyone does make mistakes. It is ok to acknowledge the mistakes and learn from it. We are human and therefore imperfect. I believe that that is our strength as human beings. We live not by instinct but by thought and thoughtful action. We live and learn.
Yes, I left that discussion board. The “spanking” mother appeared to be deemed the board’s relevant expert. Is it cowardly of me? Perhaps. I have always acknowledged that we can learn from each other. It’s why I go to different boards. Even after all these years I am learning from others and I find it amazing how wonderful, insightful and intelligent parents can be. But in this case, I have to say that that entire episode left me very sad. I was sad for the children involved and sad for the rest of us. If this truly is people’s attitudes towards education then it is not a wonder than that so many states still allow corporal punishment in school. Never mind the restraint and abuse so often seen directed at autistic children. Maybe my state and its laws about behavioral interventions is the anomaly, I don’t know. What I have had to come to terms with is the fact that you can’t help everyone, especially when they are not really looking for help just looking to be told that they are right. Again, we do what we can and hope that it helps. I suppose that is why the Talmud, the book of Jewish laws, tells us, that to save one life is as if you saved the entire world. Because the sages knew that you can’t help everyone, no matter how hard you try.
Until next time,
(Hopefully in a better mood)