Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Admit It, I Care What You Think!

Today I took my boys to therapy where we discussed a challenge I’m having with my youngest. He’s getting more rude and explosive when triggered. We’re constantly reminding him to take deep breaths, to walk away from the situation and use a nice voice, but his progress has been very slow.

I know that it’s going to take some time for him to learn how to self soothe, but I admit, his behavior makes me feel like a lousy parent, it embarrasses me. He tends to have no filter and if he’s upset, he lashes out with such loud, disrespectful behavior. In the moment, I try to calm him down, using the “ignore it” therapeutic approach our therapist has trained me to use, but this method has me ignoring the behavior instead of disciplining him. As a mother, this feels wrong. On the surface it looks like I’m letting him get away with it, instead of intentionally not giving him attention for his bad behavior.

Our therapist reminded me, “You can’t reason with a limbic system that’s misfiring, it’s like trying to scold a drunk person—it’s a waste of time. Instead, you have to wait until he’s calm and ready to learn then at that time, get to the heart of what’s triggering him. Don’t focus on his bad behavior because that’s just a symptom of what’s much deeper, instead try to figure out what causing it in the first place.”

I understand her logic, but in the moment, when he’s talking back with a vengeance while we’re being watched by nearby shoppers in Target, I can’t help but feel like a bad parent. I can almost feel the eyes of onlookers screaming at me, “What kind of parent let’s their child talk that way?”

As I expressed these frustrations our therapist asked me, “So it bothers you because of how it makes you look?”

I responded, “Well...yes it does.”

I can’t help it. No matter how much I understand the situation and my son’s limitations, I still want to be seen by others as a good mom. I work so damn hard that it kills me to think that even strangers think I’m a lazy parent.

There, I said it.

I admit that I’m concerned about what others think.

Now I have to work on letting that go.


  1. Again, at Target, these people who stare at you don't deal with your son 24/7.

    Why not finding ready-made answers to deal with those rude people ?
    You can say : "Why don't you spend three months dealing with him 24/7 ?".
    When you say to someone who criticizes "I let you solve the problem by yourself", rude know-it-all run away. Because they criticize, yes. But they don't do anything useful.
    Think of them as useless people who always find flaws to others because they don't want to deal with their own inner sin (since you believe in God).

    These people holier-than-thou ? Ask them to deal with the problem and talk to you after. They will run away ASAP because they don't want to put their hand in the koi.

  2. You are not alone! I have been in the same situation too many times to count. It has reduced me to tears at times (usually when I get in the car) but either way it feels humiliating for some reason. I really work hard to not be judgemental myself and always remind myself to walk a mile in that person's shoes and that I have NO idea what that person is going through. Even the perception I'm being judged as a bad parent pierces my heart. I think the underlying reason is that we love our children so much we'd like it to be obvious to the world but unfortunately, Love doesn't always look the way we expect it too. I know exactly how heart wrenching this can be but you are doing a fantastic job. It may not always feel like it but as a reader, I see a bigger picture for your story and know that the many hard decisions, sacrafices, and victories big and small will lead to something so wonderful it's hard to imagine right now. Hang in there. Here cheering you on!

  3. Dag nabbit...I erased my first comment.
    It is perfectly natural to feel the need for acceptance from others in our actions. But when our actions are prescribed and feel foreign we are even more aware of the audience. Geesh I don't know what it is like to be judged by others for my parenting techniques (because I haven't kids) but I can only imagine the way others' views would impact me. But let those without sin cast the first stone.

  4. I wrestle with this all the time. I've gotten better at letting it go, but I do still have the thought, "What are those people thinking about me?"

    This past year I did a lot of work with my son using Michelle Garcia Winner's "Social Thinking" and I learned a lot about my own social thinking. A main premise in her work is to teach kids with lagging social skills (her main focus is autism) to think about what other people might be thinking. And try to have an awareness if what you are doing will make other people have "weird thoughts" about you. The tendency to avoid creating "weird thoughts" in others is part of the social thinking that those of us with normal social development just pick up naturally. We've been trained to avoid those behaviors.

    Knowing this has helped me deal with it a little better. First off, it's not odd to think about what other people think of my behavior--that is a natural outcome of being a social creature. Using a different parenting style from the norm is going to cause weird thoughts in others. Once I get there, it is easier to tell myself, it is okay that they are having weird thoughts about what I'm doing--because they don't know.