Occasionally, I participate in writers and bloggers discussion groups on LinkedIn.com. Recently a discussion group began under the title “Is Parenting Troubled Teenagers a Difficult Task? (DUH!) Since I raised a troubled teen and wrote a book about it, I jumped into the discussion with fervor.
But, what really set me ablaze was this comment by a guy named Ray:
“If a parent brought up a child correctly, chances are it would not be troubled. Therefore, in my opinion, a parent is justifiably getting what he/she deserves. They, the parent, should seek assistance from a specialist, or not, depending on the definition of that troubled child. In my opinion, anyway.”
… a parent is getting what they deserve? What an ignorant fool! Many (of course not all), troubled teenagers are troubled because they have a neuropsychological or mental illness. Would anyone have the audacity to say that parents deserve a child who has cancer?
Well, Ray, “in my opinion,” you are a guy from Hell!!! I am not a violent person but if I had been standing next to you when you wrote that comment you would have felt the sting of my ruler on your knuckles. I am not saying that bad parenting does not exist; but, for a responsible parent, who has suffered through years of rejection, blame, and shame placed on her/him from people like Ray, this comment is unacceptable!
After I calmed down, I shot back a comment that was milder than what I really wanted to say. Here it is:
“Sorry, Ray, but I disagree with you. Your blanket statements have little credence. Our adopted daughter had bipolar disorder, undiagnosed until she was 17. She was a troubled child and teen and remained troubled all her life. She, and we, suffered unjust criticism because society did not understand mental illness. It was cruel and inhumane. While were not perfect parents by any means, her behavior was attributed to her illness and nothing more. Education breaks stigma and I think you need to learn more about this subject before making unqualified statements. If you had children and they were not troubled as teens, you should thank God, because they obviously escaped the effects of your arrogance.”
But, then I read a comment in the discussion group from Lucy, which warmed my heart and gave me hope that societal rejection, blame and shame may be subsiding. Here is what she wrote:
“I agree with the objections to Ray’s comments. Plenty of loving, committed, conscientious, self-aware parents raise children with serious behavioral issues. In most of the cases I know, these kids have neuropsychological or mental health conditions that manifest behaviorally. Good quality parenting might help these kids cope (long-term), but it is not a cure, and plenty of these families go through extreme challenges. I know of one case, involving perhaps the BEST parent I’ve ever known, in which the son’s issues are profound and long-term yet they have no clear diagnosis and no apparent solution (he is adopted; presumably there are unknown genetic or gestational factors).
The idea that good parenting can overcome any issue is one of the most pernicious misunderstandings around. It does a great disservice to the many families that are already struggling with these challenges. Bear in mind Bruno Bettelheim‘s theory, so big in the 50s and 60s, that cold mothers caused autism. What an enormous additional burden that placed on those profoundly misunderstood and isolated families.”
Thank you Lucy!
Keep tuned in for more on this subject as the AuthorBlogChallenge progresses…
From the Author of “God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from Bipolar Disorder.”