It’s the Mother’s Fault

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My oh my.

I shall never complain again.

You know how people sometimes say something about our wiggly or distractible kids and they are waaaaaaay off base, so much so that it’s almost humorous?

Such things no longer bring defensiveness from me.

Usually I just nod, and give them a knowing smile.

Like the day one of my son’s teacher’s said to me, “Oh I don’t believe he’s ADHD. He couldn’t be. Why…he has said things in my class that are truly insightful and intelligent.”

<knowing smile>

Or how about, “Is it really ADHD? Or is it Sin?”

<knowing smile> plus maybe a few gracious words intended to educate.

But let’s talk about THE BIG GUILT—those comments that are intended to suggest that our child is the way he or she is because of something we’ve done…some bad parenting choice we’ve made.

Maybe we had a stressful moment during pregnancy.

Or we serve them too much red dye.

Maybe if we were more attentive to the mold around our house,

Or if we had just used what little sense we had to drag our TV to the city dump.

Every one is looking for a reason, and often those reasons sound much like blame.

Well…I have now heard the biggest mommy guilt excuse of them all.

I was watching a show about Dr. Temple Grandin. She is a fascinating autistic individual who has taken her unique perspective through autism and created an amazing career. Because she has perceptive insights into the way animals think and behave, she has become a highly sought after advisor and designer in the cattle industry to design more humane environments, particularly those at slaughter houses. At cattle conferences, she has an almost “Rock star” presence. And yet she is so very clearly autistic. If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating woman, check out her site at

But on to the GUILT.

This show presented a bit of the history on autism. At one point the primary beliefs (in the 1950’s and 1960’s) about autism came from two men named Kanner and Bettleheim. One of them had noted that people in concentration camps became withdrawn as a result of their poor and extreme treatment. Their behavior patterns looked remarkably similar to those seen in autism. THUS…the conclusion….are you ready for this???

The mothers of autistic children must secretly wish that their children were dead. (like S.S. guards)

This naturally generated horrid fear in the child who would then withdraw. (like concentration camp prisoners)

When autism was diagnosed during this time period, the first action taken was to get the mother into therapy and ask her why she wanted her child dead.

Can you IMAGINE how horrible this must have been for these mothers?

Their beloved children were already pulling away from them emotionally.

They were losing connection with this child, whom they loved more than life itself.

And now, they were told that THEY themselves were the cause.

It must have taken their breath away.

There was even a phrase that became very popular.

Mothers of autistic children were called “Refrigerator Moms” to denote their total lack of warmth and love for their child.

Lord save us from those who want to save us.

Any way, I just wanted to go on record as saying…

I KNOW that you adore your Sizzler.

I KNOW that you struggle with the challenges they present and yet still delight in the uniqueness they bring…

all the while, Loving your child.

I KNOW that some days it’s hard to see the gift, and other days it springs forth festively wrapped and sporting a huge polka-dotted bow.

And all the while, you love your child.

I KNOW that if taking the blame would provide an answer to the hardship this child faces, that you would take the blame, even unjustly, just to give him a chance at a solution.

And all the while, loving your child.

If ever anyone tries to make you feel guilty for the difficulties your Sizzler faces,

I’m here to say…I’m  truly sorry that you’re enduring such an injustice.

But I also want you to know and believe that your love for this child is part of what makes him Sizzle and laugh and have the courage to try again.

You are part of his solution, not part of his problem.

We, as parents of Sizzlers, may not do everything right,

but we certainly do it all for the right reasons.

And what reasons are they??


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13 Responses to “It’s the Mother’s Fault”

  1. Kathy D. Says:

    Carol Barnier, you are a wonderful woman! Bless you for stating this so eloquently :’) I may just need to print this out and keep it in my pocket.


  2. carolbarnier Says:

    Thanks Kathy. Maybe we should stuff our pockets FULL of encouragement (instead of our childrens’ gum wrappers.) You never know when we’re going to need it.

  3. thethriftyhousewife Says:

    Wonderful post! It’s so nice to see ENCOURAGEMENT for parents dealing with these issues. Thank you!

  4. Caroline Hogan Says:

    that was brilliant and made me cry too….(need a warning next time…your posts usually make me laugh! I was not prepared!) Thank you Carol!

  5. imabusymomma Says:

    Wow, isn’t that an awful thing that they did to the parents! Parents of kids with these challenges are always so dedicated to helping them in all aspects of their lives so that they can function in our backwards society.

    A note on the red dye: When I was first learning about ADD, I figured that the additives did cause the problems. As I researched more, I learned that the challenges were already present beforehand and I could not have prevented them. BUT I did discover that the additives do affect the quality of life. Those dealing with ADD or ADHD are more sensitive to these chemicals which can make dealing with life’s situations more difficult. Please consider clarifying this for other readers so that it is not just dismissed.

    We have since treated with some diet changes and it has made a difference, although I never expect a cure through doing so. What is there to cure anyway? It is not a disease, but a different and wonderful way of learning…something to be celebrated. Life would be boring without ADDers.

  6. tgmagazine Says:

    Thanks, Carol! I have a family member who believes my son’s behavior is directly related to my parenting (and I believe a couple other family members think along similar lines).

    Like the woman before me, I have altered my children’s diets to remove the dyes and additives. It has helped; however, these same family members think I’m nuts for not letting them eat typical ‘kid stuff’ – can’t win with them, so we do our own thing and let them have their opinions.

  7. Rebekah Says:

    That was a touching story- true to humanity- and especially mothers themselves. We mothers have a fierce,undying love for all of our kids- even the most DIFFICULT of the bunch. (And yes, there are some days when we might wish they would “go away” for awhile.) But lately, (my sizzler is 14 1/2) I have been pondering just how dull life will be when he goes off into the world in a few short years…

  8. Heather Laurie Says:

    Wow and thank you. As the mommy to 5 wonderful kids 4 who have autism. I was told only one has autism the others are imitating and YOU have to quit allowing that. groan! We have enough guilt through our lives as special parents, don’t pack it on!

    God bless
    Heather Laurie

  9. facts Says:

    Autism is crazy common these days and we need to find the cause asap.

  10. » A Priceless Post My Quivers Full Says:

    […] a polite comment that oh, it must be hard, but really gets it.  The post is called, "It’s the Mother’s Fault".  Go read it.  […]

  11. Quote I Love – A House Upon The Rock Says:

    […] Barnier’s encouragement and words. (She gets it! – Thank you!) {Have permission and been meaning to write some posts on one of […]

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