Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crappy Parenting or Something Else?

This morning I was listening to the radio news and heard about this story,  9 Year Old Girl Faces Felony Charges Following School Bus Attack.

The person on the radio commented that this girl's parents must have done a crappy job at parenting.

My first thought was different.  Though there can be bad parenting involved here, I wonder if there is more to the story.  Was this girl fostered or adopted?  Does she have past trauma, reactive attachment disorder, autism or other mental health issues?  Is she prenatally affected by alcohol?

I know a lot of good parents that have kids who rage.  I feel that, though I'm not a perfect parent, I'm a good one who successfully raised four kids so far into adulthood.  And I have children who rage sometimes.  I have children who for many reasons, including RAD, FASD, and PTSD, say odd things, do odd things, and sometimes act in ways that I'm sure cause people to wonder if I'm a crappy parent too.  Most of the time the kids are wonderful, helpful, and polite.   But other times, when they are fearful, overstimulated, hungry, tired, thirsty, too hot, have a sore toe, in a situation that reminds them of past trauma, constipated, excited, or anything else that is mildly uncomfortable, they have a difficult time and can fall either into a rage or go into a trancelike state.  Sometimes they honestly don't even remember much of what they did when they were in that state.  That's one of the reasons I homeschool.  They need more structure and a more peaceful atmosphere than the normal school bus or school yard can provide.  We have to recognize the symptoms of a beginning state of dysregulation and try to head off rages before they get to the point of no return.  I know my kids well enough now to see those signs. I can see the rise in excitement, the certain look in their eyes, and by the way they respond to me, that they need to sit in a quiet room next to me for a bit to calm down. I worry sometimes what will happen when they are adults, in a situation that causes fear, or even out playing with friends and they don't have someone to remind them to take a break.  I pray a lot about how they will do in life. Of course, Mr. I has been learning to come in after having a hard time with friends and get away from the situation until he calms down.  But it's taken years of a lot of hard work to get to this point.  I hope that by the time they leave the house, they will be able to self regulate.  But until then, they need help.

I wonder how many people in jails and prisons are there, not because they purposely broke a law, but because they couldn't self regulate, or are impulsive.  Or have FASD.  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the Criminal Justice System

Is throwing people in jail the best way we can come up with in a society to solve the problem of FASD?

Before getting the two younger kids, I would have been one of those who blame the parent if I heard of a kid who raged on a school bus.  But now I've learned that there might be a lot more to the story than what the news people say.

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