Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Rewarded for Bad Behavior

Today I am honored to be have Jen as a guest Blogger.  Jen lives in Massachusetts and is mom to Katie, 7, a girl remarkably similar to Maya in age and character and Ben, 4.  Like me she is also married to a European but managed to get him to the "other" side of the pond (hmmmm, maybe it is us who live on the other side).  Anyway, her blog Living Life, with a Side of Autism is absolutely wonderful -- well written, touching, funny and inspiring.  After reading this, you'll be hooked, trust!

On one of the message boards I frequent, a mother posted about flipping out on another mom at a mall play area. Why? Because her daughter had pushed another child 3 times and that child's mother came over and said something. Obviously, that is understandable. If one of my kids was repeatedly pushed by the same kid with no parent coming over to intervene I would be upset, too.

However, this mom went off on the other yelling at her about how her daughter has some delays and how she doesn't know what it is like to raise a special needs child, blah, blah, blah.

She felt she was valid in doing this. Turning it around on the other mom. The other mom who watched her child be hurt 3 times by the same kid. As if her being "special needs" was an excuse for that behavior or got her out of having to apologize for her daughter's actions.

I have SEVERAL issues with this.

1) your child's issues are NEVER an excuse for his/her bad behavior. Katie has delays, but I am forever apologizing if she does something wrong, and I still watch her like a hawk if we go out places. Unfortunately, when your child has some stuff going on you are not afforded the luxury of sitting on your butt in a mall play area, chatting away. You have to watch them constantly...and if you can't then stay home!

2)if I was that other mother I would be even more upset that my child got hurt because I would think the "special needs" child, out of any kid, should be watched MORE! If you know your child acts this way, why weren't you with her every second?!?! Having the time to push a kid THREE times means she WAS NOT BEING WATCHED. Period. And there is NO excuse for that, special needs or not.

3)We cannot expect other parents to know what we deal with or that our children have special needs. How are they to know? Magically they have some power that lets them look at a kid and say, oh, well they should get away anything because they have some special need. UM, no. How dare she throw that up in that other mom's face? How does she even know that other mom doesn't deal with the same thing, or something worse? I feel it's just an easy way out of not having paid enough attention to your own child. Don't blame yourself, don't blame your kid...blame the other mom who is totally innocent in it all and just trying to stand up for her own child. Yeah, that makes sense. 

It frustrates me because it sends a message to the world that we as parents feel some sort of entitlement since our children have issues. That we are not subject to the same rules because of what our kids deal with or what we deal with. That is SO wrong. It gives parents of special needs children a bad name. I just can't emphasize enough how it cannot be used as an excuse and how bad it is to use it as one! 

Of course, most people who responded to this post did so with an, oh, poor you, reply. Not me. And not a few others. We all couldn't understand how this child was allowed to push another kid THREE times and her mom not notice. We didn't think it was right she flipped out on the other mom for defending her child. We said it in a nice way, and I even said that I have a 5yo with probable Autism who I can't take my eyes off for a second in a mall play area, and that we have had to leave on a few occasions when her behavior couldn't be controlled. You just DO have to work harder when your child is like that. There are typical kids who need to be watched the whole time, too. If she was able to push that many times without being noticed then, yes, there needs to be more watching going on. What if she had pushed a kid off a slide or someplace high up? I mean, come on people.

Of course she got incredibly offended not everyone gave her a poor you pat on the back. Well too bad. Some of us aren't going to sit there and type out a lie. Some of us work our butts off watching our kids and are offended someone would use having a special needs child as an excuse for bad behavior.  

I really hope this woman learned something from the few people who posted an HONEST response. I hope she can put herself in the other mom's shoes and understand what it feels like to watch your child get hurt over and over and over by the same child with no parent intervention. I hope she can realize having a child with delays does not give you a get out of jail free card. It is not an your job and be a parent and watch your kid...and don't try to pass the blame when you fail at that....PERIOD.

So, where does the reward come into all this? Well, because she flipped due to some of us actually disagreeing with her, someone from the message board delivered to her a special present.



For this she was rewarded with a gift to make HER feel better.

Nice, huh? No wonder people continue to act this way. Not taking responsibility for anything, because they are REWARDED for bad behavior.

I just really do hope she learned something and doesn't feel she was actually in the right just because she received a bag of goodies from someone who, apparently, doesn't get it either.

OK, off my soapbox....for now.


  1. You got that soooo right, Dana. I am a retired elementary teacher. I have been witness to all sorts of behavior. Whether a parent of a special needs child or "normal" child, it is your duty to help and teach your child to function in society the best possible way without making excuses for bad behavior. Discipline and guidance is an act of love.

  2. I had this happen to me but it was my Aspie being chased by a playground bully who wanted to punch him. We were at the mall play area. The bully was chasing kids that were within the height limit who should be in the playground and punching them, shoving them and chasing them to do just that. The boy chased my son and when my son ran to me. I threw my arm out and told the child, if you hit my child I will hit you and then tell your mom I did. He looked stunned and walked away. The mother was sitting in the food court not even concerned and never even came over to do anything to stop her chld. He was not within the height limit suggested for children playing in the play area and he was not being supervised by his mother. Some people just think they are above the rules the rest of us try to diligently follow.

  3. Some people just don't take responsibility for their kids, it's as simple as that. To me, I wouldn't be so bothered that an older kid is there as long as he/she behaves him/herself. It's great that you took a stand not just for your own son but for all the other kids that were being terrorized by this kid.