Parenting skills

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Sara PA, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Let's have a discussion.

    I know that the suggestion that our children have behavioral issues because of our parenting skills makes us all crazy. Virtually all of us have been accused of being the cause of our children's behavioral problems because of our lack of parenting skills. My son insisted we fire his psychiatrist when he learned she believed all his problems were my fault. As it turned out, his most severe problems were her treatment and the rest seem to be genetic. Only when he was most psychotic did he even suggest that his problems were my fault.

    But that's what the psychological field has taught for decades, though less so lately. When I first started studying psychology, autism was caused by cold mothers, homosexuality was caused by controlling mothers and schizophrenia was learned behavior usually taught to the child by the mother. Do we see a pattern here?

    That said, I believe that we need to get past the idea that our choice of parenting options or lack of some parenting techniques is never a factor in our children's behavior. There are techniques that work with all children, even ours, as well as techniques that work with children with specific disabilites. What is The Explosive Child if not a book about parenting? Don't we all appreciate Marg's tips on parenting techniques? Haven't some of us benefited from switching from authoritarian to authoritative style of parenting? Or from permissive to one of the more controlled styles?

    I think we need to stop our knee jerk reaction to any suggestion that we might be able to change or fine tune our parenting skills. After all, being the parents of disabled children doesn't make us parenting authorities and assure us we have expert skills. Suggesting that someone could change her parenting techniques should never be taken as a statement that someone's parenting style caused a disability. While I've run into a few professionals who think that way, I don't think anyone here thinks that.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Making a suggestion that someone may need to fine tune their parenting is fine, Sara. The problem comes when we decide to argue and hammer away at that parent and insist that parenting is the issue. We all need to know when to back off.
  3. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I tried to start a discuss and I don't want it hijacked to be about me especially when the hijacking is a misrepresentation. I was asked a question -- what I would have done. I answered.

    Now can we have the discussion?
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Sara, I stand by my response.
  5. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I believe that my son's issues are not caused by my parenting. He was born this way, I love him(even though I do not always like him), and he is who he is. At his core he is loving and caring. I have seen that the way I react to or parent him can cause a more positive or negative response many times. On the other hand many times I can react in the best manner, in the way all the books and professionals say I should, and still he has a melt down or just gets "stuck" on something. I have learned that some things are best let go of, and I need to emotionally disengage (very hard if I am tired) to be the best parent I can be. Are these things easy? No. But I do the best I can. Parenting is hard with a easy child, but with difficult child it can be an incredibly huge task. The more I learn, the better parent I am to both my children.
  6. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Sara I was thinking about this lately.

    While we shouldn't blame parents it doesn't mean that any of us couldn't find ways to improve our parenting. The blanket mindset that parents are not part of the problem is somewhat naive. Sometimes they are a big problem. Although the knee jerk reaction of many professionals that the problem is all the parents fault is ridiculously ignorant.

    I tend to always look at myself to see what I do that creates or adds to the negative situation in my home. Not only with difficult child but with easy child, husband, siblings, and friends. I take full responsibility for my parenting blunders but I always evaluate and try to adjust my responses so that difficult child's best interest is the bottom line. I don't believe any of us should believe there isn't something more to be learned or another viewpoint to consider. I don't have the arrogance to believe my way is the right way.Our results are not reflective of success as we would like.

    I want my son's to learn from their mistakes. Why wouldn't I also learn from my own? Admitting mistakes goes a long way towards learning and improving.

    Hopefully, I am discussing and not hammering but I understand what TM is saying and agree. The most helpful information I have received is usually from someone who has set an example and has had success or I respect their work/parenting of their difficult child.

    Lighten up a little, Sara.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, I've had five kids that I all pretty much parented the same way. One ended up taking drugs. She was overly sensitive from the start...and always very into what her peers would think. The one thing I know I did that triggered her drug use was move her to another state in 7th grade...she was all alone and so shy that she sat alone at lunch until the "bad kids" befriended her. That was my error and I've talked to her about my mistake many times. However, I just don't buy that children who have autism, bipolar, etc. are products of wrong parenting. While we can all learn methods to better help our kids with their problems, we didn't CAUSE the problems. Mental illness as well as neurological differences are inherited. I actually took a parenting course once and it was snoozeworthy. I'd tried all the methods suggestsed with my autistic son, but he never responded to conventional parenting theories. Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) helped more than anything and today he is a very compliant child because he is no longer frustrated (my take on it).
    Sara, we didn't cause our children's problems nor can all kids be parented to behave. I was one of those kids. If my mother told me to do something, my stock response was "make me." A rage would follow if she pursued it, even if she was calm.
    I disagree with your post. You had one kid. I had five. You can't just fix it with "appropriate" parenting. Kids are born with their own temperaments and one size does not fit all. Your experience with your one child has nothing to do with any of our experiences.
    Sara, if you don't believe it, that's fine, but why start a thread trying to get us to "admit" our parenting issues? How is that helpful?
  8. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    MWM, you seem to have complete misread my post. You somehow have the impression that I said exactly the opposite of what I said. In fact, your post is an example of the sort of responses I wanted to discuss.
  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    MWM- While I agree that appropriate parenting will not fix all, I think this topic and Sara deserve to be treated with respect as we all do. I also have one child and have struggled (and will continue to do so so, lol!) with finding an appropriate way to parent her. We all do. Our children are not static. They grow and change, and usually just when we think we have it all figured out. Growing up and parenting are processes. And learning as we go is part of the process.
  10. KateM

    KateM Member

    I think alot of good responses were generated in MicheleL's post " What Has Worked". Although many interventions were discussed there, including medication, there were many parenting tips that have been sucessful that were shared in that post.

    I believe all of us here are looking for what helps in raising difficult children -- in other words, good parenting skills. We seek answers and share our experiences on what has worked ( and not worked) for our kids. Certainly, my son's diagnosis is that he has a neurobiological condition. But how I communicate with him, how I teach him, how I model correct behavior, all influence the outcome, but just to the degree that his genectic "limit" will allow.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ok...I dont know where I fall into this discussion because I am not sure exactly what the difference is between what TM is saying and what Sara said...maybe I am missing something. I have been known to do that a time or two.

    I firmly believe that parents can play a roll in how our kids turn out. I dont think parenting is the sole cause of disorders but I do believe that the way a child is parented can play into how a disorder either is manifested or even if it is brought out at all.

    No parent is perfect and we learn from our mistakes constantly. I think I am a better parent as a grand parent than I was as a parent.
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I do believe that parenting does need to be considered and you've brought up something that has been a concern for me here on the boards. It's always bothered me when new parents arrive here questioning their own parenting skills (or feeling bruised because of criticism) and posters reply telling them "You're a great parent." The truth is we don't know what's going on behind the doors of those homes. Some great parenting is probably going on, but in truth there also may be some not so great parenting taking place.

    HOWEVER, what I do think is critical is the way in which we approach it. Saying something like "Before I got a handle on the strategies in The Explosive Child I often was contributing to my difficult child's problems simply because I didn't know there was a better way for him." is more apt to ease them into considering they could do something differently as opposed to telling them what you think they need to do differently. They're new here, they don't know what experiences we've been through, or what qualifications we have to be making the statements we're making. I would have flown to the moon to help my difficult child and it always grieved me when I realized something I was doing was off track from what he needed.

    I think it's also important to keep in mind that newer parents here often are very vulnerable and easily criticized. Cushioning suggestions with encouragment and understanding goes a long way towards making them more palatable.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok. I read the post over again. I'm sensitive because I'm sooooooo tired of parents being blamed for a child's disability. In fact, parents are NOT blamed if a child gets any other medical or genetic problem, although I have heard the very insensitive "she shouldn't have had the child since she knew he could have had_____."
    I do feel that parenting methods help, as long as we keep an eye on the individual child and don't try to fit all of them into boxes. Also, some professionals are part of the problem. Frankly, when I see some kids on five medications, I cringe. I've taken medications since I was twenty-three and most medications made me worst. I've had tons of wrong diagnosis. too.
    I do tell parents who spank hard or yell that it won't work. I don't know if that makes the kids worse, but certainly in my opinion that won't help them. Yet parenting classes are often woefully inadequate for OUR kids needs. We look to professionals to guide us, and so often they are really not helpful. Through the years, because of both myself, my ex-druggie daughter AND my autistic son, I rely more on self-help books and other parents, and much less on psychologists (or any therapists). I just never had much luck with them, and sometimes feel that they lead me astray.
    Sara, sorry I jumped on ya ;)
  14. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Well, I think my opinion will be the exception here but I have good reasons for mine. My daughter's issues are about 90% behavorial. I completely blame her bio-mother's parenting (or lack thereof). While bio-mom completely and totally loved her daughter, she had no clue how to parent her. Men were brought in and out of the house constantly. My daughter was severely neglected, physically abused, probably sexually abused. I got lucky in that I did some things right when I got her out of sheer luck (carrying her almost non-stop for a full year, playing "baby" with her being the baby, etc.). However, there is no way I could have rectified everything that had had happened to her. Nor could her therapist, who is truly one of the best. Even with everything that was tried to help her, she still needed an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and she's still not 100% but closer to that than I ever thought she would be.

    So, yes, to me parenting can be to blame. If there are no serious chemical (i.e., ADHD, bipolar) or mental imbalances (i.e., autistic spectrum), then most of the blame has to lie with parenting or another outside factor such as molestation or the like.

    However, I firmly believe that my child is the exception. Most parents protect their children from abuse. Most parents cherish their children and will do anything to keep them safe. So, that puts it back to something physical, not something the parents did.

    All parents make mistakes in raising children. Children are not pieces of equipment that clearly state if you put A into B, X will occur. If a child does not have food allergies, chemical imbalances, mental imbalance, these mistakes will cause no harm. Sometimes, these defiencies (for lack of a better word) will make a simple mistake escalate into something serious such as a 4-hour rage. This is not the fault of the parent; this is an uncontrollable reaction by the child.

    As to the professionals, I do have some issues with them. Many get stuck in the rut of their education and knowledge -- if they totally bought into the Freudian school, the parent will somehow be blamed; if their PhD thesis was on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), odds are they will see Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in most children; etc. It is hard to keep up on all the new theories in psychology. Some pros are hopelessly behind. Worse, some refuse to accept any new theory. One thing that truly bothers me is what I call the "flavor of the day" diagnosis. It seems that every year or two, certain Dxes are popular and that is what almost every child gets for a diagnosis. It is taking the easy way out and hurting the child. There has to be a better way.

    So, my opinion is that true blame on the parent is rare but certainly is possible. Some therapists need to learn more and be more open to newer theories. Just as importantly, diagnosticians need to keep a truly open mind and not be influenced by what is popular today. Everyone needs to look harder at what could be wrong rather than just saying poor parenting or even genetics is the cause of the problems. Personally, I wish that the diagnosis would be less of an issue and that a good treatment plan become the best therapy.
  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I agree with many things said by different posters on this one. Mainly- one size doesn't fit all. Think about the IEP conceept and how so many of us have to fight the school district to get them to see that different approaches work differently with different kids.

    I'd also like to ask that we keep in mind that many times, parents sit down to read and vent and share on this board right after they have just removed their "warriar armour" for the day- which might mean that they just returned home from that appointment with the psychiatrist who couldn't make the medications work so he insinuated "maybe it was a parenting issue" or maybe they just returned from visiting a relative or haviing an IEP meeting- you catch my drift, I'm sure. It is easy in those cases to react over-defensively because we feel like we have already heard all the blame and negativity that we can stand for that day and we do hope to be "redirected" more gently sometimes.

    Edited to add: I, personally, don't feel like I have ever been "verbally attacked" here, so maybe I was speaking out of line to try to speak for others in the paragraph above. It was just an effort to try to see how things can be misinterpreted when looked at from two different perspectives- being that we don't talk to each other face to face and we don't always know what that person has just dealt with the hour before coming online here.
  16. Penta

    Penta New Member

    I have learned a great deal in my elder years of wisdom about parenting...especially parenting my young adult granddaughter. I have learned how sensitive she is to statements that another young person might take in stride. Her Learning Disability (LD) issues cause her to think in a "black and white" way, no shades of grey to any issue. I have learned to choose my words carefully so she can understand my message without being offended or hurt. It took me many years to come to this realization that I needed to change the way I speak to her and now that I have, we have a much different and better relationship.
  17. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Nature vs. nurture is a topic I have been interested in for quite a while. Is there any definitive way to know how much of our childrens' behavior is genetically driven or how much is in response to their environment? I appreciate the suggestions others who have dealt with similar issues offer. Speaking personally, by the time I found this board, I was seriously bruised and battered, and questioning myself regarding everything in my life. If I couldn't even raise my daughter right, what else was I doing wrong? Having people offer their support and understanding by saying I was a great parent gave me the strength to get up and try again. I was here and looking for answers on how to do my job better.

    Miss KT's father and I separated when she was 3, and she did not see him consistently for several years after that (his choice). If the nurture theory is 100% correct, she should behave like me, reflect the same values, same work ethic, etc., because she was raised by me, not her father. This is the example I set. If it's 100% nature, nothing I did or can do in the future will change the outcome. If she is genetically disposed to being a homicidal ax-murderer, she will be a homicidal ax-murderer, and no amount of love and care will change that.

    I believe the truth lies somewhere in between. While there is a physical cause for many of our childrens' difficulties, the way we as parents react, respond, and actively participate in parenting skills and styles can improve the overall situation. I don't believe we can change the nature, but we can improve the situation through nurturing our children in the best possible way. This board is one of the ways I have chosen to nurture Miss KT.
  18. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Parenting skills or lack of skills are not the cause of the diagnosed condition but parenting techniques do have an effect on a child's behavior and even what some would consider "good parenting skills" may work for one child and not another due to his/her condition. I think as a parent, especially a difficult child parent, you have to constantly analyze the situation and ask yourself, what might I do differently next time to get a better outcome? I am often complimented on my parenting skills and the structure I provide for my difficult child and he's the worst behaved child I know! I don't blame myself for his behaviors but at the same time, there is no sense in continuing to do what doesn't work so I am open to new ideas and willingly accept other's suggestions (sometimes I try them and sometime I discount them based on what I know about my son). The more I learn about bipolar disorder, the more it has caused me to adjust some of my thinking and make changes in the way I parent. Parenting styles should evolve to fit the needs of the child at the moment and a parent should always be open to trying something a new way to see if things will improve.
  19. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    As I read more on this thread, it comes to my mind that I have told "Newbies" that I think they are a great parent. I do that when it appears obvious that they have made extreme efforts, usually without much help, to defy the odds for their difficult child. I guess I see parenting techniques and a good parent as two different things. I believe parents who come to this board and stick around are good parents because they (we :) ) all do keep trying to find better ways and ways that will help our difficult child's more. But, no one will ever have that perfect technique, as we all know.

    Then, there are those like MB was describing that have bad technique and are bad parents both, but I believe those are the minority.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    People who adopt kids, like me, and then see the child's birthparents almost always are shocked by how much the child is like the birthparents that she/he has never seen, even down to mannerisms. I personally believe nature is a lot stronger than nurture. If it weren't, kids in the same families would turn out pretty much the same...JMO