Extended Family – Please Support, Don’t Judge FASD Parenting

extended-family-of-those-with-fasd-2By 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.

4 thoughts on “Extended Family – Please Support, Don’t Judge FASD Parenting

  1. This really is an excellent blog post. The only part I don’t agree with is this: “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.” That kinda gets my hackles up. At this point (we’ve been at it for 10 looong years now) I don’t feel like I have to prove anything, to anyone. That’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years and I’m so over it.


    1. From The Auntie:
      Thanks for your response. Firstly, I am so sorry to get your hackles up – my intentions with these blogs is to support FASD parents, not annoy them! And you are right, you do not have to prove yourselves to anyone.

      The “OK, I think you are doing it wrong…..” was my attempt to appeal to those that haven’t listened in the past. I was trying to suggest way for them to open a dialogue again.

      Would “Ok, I don’t understand, yet, why you have to parent differently, but I would like, with your help, to try to understand” be better?

      You’ll read elsewhere on this blog what it took for me to start listening, but my eyes have been opened and my understanding expanded enormously since I did. I sincerely want to encourage other family members to start listening properly, so your feedback on this is really welcomed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks so much, Auntie, for your efforts to encourage family members to walk a mile in our shoes! It is something that is sorely needed. When strangers and casual acquaintances don’t get it, well, that’s not such a big deal and pretty easy to understand. But we parents who are down in the FASD trenches really, really need the non-judgemental help, love, support and understanding of our families and close friends. And, yes, your proposed edit to this article says it much better! I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the blog and reading about how you came to understand what we go through.


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