By The Auntie
Never judge an FASD parent until you have walked a mile in whichever shoes they have managed to get on their feet today.
“All that kid needs is a bit of discipline”
“Why is that woman on the beach just popping seaweed instead of stopping her son swearing at the top of his voice?”
“Have you tried controlled crying, the naughty step and Super Nanny techniques – if you persevere, those methods will work”
“Well it was your choice to adopt. You knew what you were getting into”
I bet you have heard something like this said about the FASD parents in your family. You may have thought similar yourself (go on, admit it, you have. I will admit it, I thought it). I went along to the latest FASD Support group that my brother and sister-in-law run and I listened to reports of the above attitudes.
And I listened to how some of them have been abandoned by, estranged from or criticised by their nearest and dearest. Large, seemingly irreparable, rifts often appear in previously close families directly as a result of the adoption of an FASD child. Extended families often observe FASD parenting skills and can’t understand why their son/daughter/sister/brother “lets the kid get away with, what is basically, just naughty behaviour”
So let me ask you something.
Don’t you think that if normal parenting skills worked, they would use them?
Because the simple fact is that normal parenting skills simply do not work with an FASD child.
They just don’t.
And no, actually, most of the time these parents didn’t know what they were getting into because, in the UK, we are playing catch up. I have the opportunity in my work to come into contact with many many SEN and PSHE teachers and over 90% of them have never even heard of FASD.
I would bet that your FASD parents spend every waking (and some sleeping) hour researching skills, techniques and coping methods that will work for their child – every FASD child is different and there is just no way of knowing which bit of their brain was damaged at which point, or points, of the pregnancy, or what is going to work for their child on that day.
So I would like to make a plea to all those family members who have thrown their hands in the air in frustration and walked away in the past. It is never too late to say ……
“OK, I think you are doing it wrong, but am prepared to let you try to prove why you are doing it right. Or at least prove why normal parenting won’t work”
FASD parents parent differently. Not because they want to. Because they have to.
More from The Auntie is available here.