From the moment you announce a pregnancy, you find yourself bombarded with tips, tricks, parenting advice, opinions and judgment from pretty much everyone you know. Even people you don’t know. Some of this is welcomed, some, not so much.
I have to admit, I too have been guilty of doing this. I have even written a few ‘tips’ posts in the past. But these posts are intended for people who would welcome that advice. People looking for how to get their baby to sleep through the night, or how to manage their money better.
Having an autistic child definitely heightens the level of opinions, judgement and unwanted advice. And it is something that drives me absolutely mental. Not everyone’s advice is intended to upset me of course. Actually none of it is, but there are a certain few people that have given an opinion that has really, really bothered me.
Let me give you an example.
A few weeks back I had a phone call from a lady who runs parenting workshops. This is not autism related, just general parenting. I would jump at the chance of attending a workshop based on parenting an autistic child. She had been given my number by someone in an official capacity to suggest I attend a parenting workshop on dealing with bad behaviour using positive reinforcement. This was following a recent incident. I cannot say too much as it will give away the person who suggested I attended this workshop. Well, I have never been so offended in my entire life. Hayden is not naughty, and regular parenting methods aren’t always the most effective when parenting an autistic child. Normal discipline does not work. Time out means nothing to Hayden, we have used rewards charts with mixed results, taking things away as punishment has no effect whatsoever and Hayden’s ‘negative’ behaviour is not a ‘normal’ 5 year old acting up or having a tantrum. To suggest that my parenting is the problem? Is completely ridiculous and highly offensive. This particular incident had occurred because Hayden was incredibly tired. He’d had a run of unsettled nights, and there had been a few adjustments to his routine. He was being pushed into doing something he didn’t want to do, and was unable to communicate his upset in any other way. He lashed out. Something that happens incredibly rarely outside the home. It was dealt with, a meeting took place to discuss the reasons why this may have happened and what can we do moving forwards to ensure it didn’t occur too often. Nothing more needed to be said on the matter. So to receive this phone call the following day was incredibly upsetting.
I have also had other people (some, being family members) suggest my parenting needs some improvement.
I know I’m not perfect, and sometimes I question my own parenting skills. Sometimes I sit and curse Autism, sometimes I cry and wonder if I am doing enough for Hayden and my other two monkey’s. I do not need anybody else to add to that self doubt that creeps in from time to time.
It is one thing delivering parenting advice when you have similar circumstances, it is totally different when you have no idea what daily life is really like.
So in future, keep your parenting advice to yourself! I’m doing the best I can. And that’s good enough!