Monday, May 3, 2010

Blame and Parenting

Parents (particularly mothers) get blamed for so much.  If our kids are overweight, we feed them the wrong foods or let them watch too much TV.  If our kids misbehave, we let them rule our house.  If they don't do well in school, we don't invest enough in their education or development.  If they aren't perfectly healthy, then we must have done something while we were pregnant to cause the problem. 

And for this reason I wanted to share this short piece from Psychology Today that quotes one of my intellectual crushes, Michael Yudell, a leading public health historian, on the sources of blame for the causes of autism.  Of particular interest to me was the assertion that mothers starting receiving the blame for all that was wrong with their children at about the same time as all the men were returning from WWII.  Society wanted to get those women back in their houses and out of the workplace, and start producing more babies, citizens, consumers.

I believe the worst aspect of blaming the mothers comes from mothers ourselves.  Whether we are blaming ourselves for not being green enough, or working outside the home too much or giving in to demands for cookies or whatever it is....or we blame other mothers for their "bad choices" or lack of willpower or ignorance or their poverty..... Blame and guilt are everywhere. How do we escape it?  Can we escape it?

In regards to the causes of autism, there is a large groundbreaking study starting now, EARLI Study which is examining  possible early causes of autism by studying families with one child who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and expecting another child. Hopefully this study will help us understand how genetics and environment interact to cause or predispose a child to autism.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.