Friday, April 22, 2005

I'm not the parent

Sometimes parents, especially when exhausted and on the verge of a breakdown, learn to lean on their children a little too much. While this can be quite helpful for the parent, it can turn the child into a freakish human being, one who befriends all sorts of needy and selfish people since all that child knows is taking care of people, not being taken care of. Please be careful when leaning on your children.

My mom called me last night and left an urgent, "emergency" message on the machine (I screen my phone calls, of course). I returned her call on the verge of tears, believing that my father actually managed to accidently blow himself up, or, worse and probably more likely, that something had happened to my brother. Foolish me.

My mother was upset because some psychiatrist had given crappy and crippling advice to the mother of a boy my mom tutors. This boy has battled several diseases in his short life, leukemia being the current warzone. He's been angry, like any child would be, and his concerned mother took him to get help from an "expert". This expert told her that she was turning her son into a wimp, she should send him back to school full time, and she should stop enabling him to be a baby and make him "suck it up". The boy is receiving chemo, by the way, and he is only eight. My mom, having dealt with many parent-abusing, quack psychiatrists was furious, and she wanted me to do something about it.

I have no idea why she thinks that I can do something about it. I also don't know why she has always assumed that I have nothing shitty going on in my life so it must be OK to call me in the middle of the night to demand my help. She's my mom, however, and I love her.

Here's my "expert" advice. Due to a crappy health care system, limited time interaction between physician and patient, and the ever growing number of subpar psychiatrists (don't get your panties up in a bunch, there are a lot of you out there who are really good at what you do) you must be proactive with mental help services. If your insurance and/or finances allow, test-drive your psychiatrist. If you feel your doctor is being abusive, walk away (unless you feel that their methods are helping you).

If your child needs help, look into all of your options: counselors, peer groups, social outlets, special schooling, and psychiatrists. Find communities online that are sharing a similar situation to your own. Beware of using medication unless you feel in your gut that it is necessary--you and only you know your child well enough to make that decision. Make sure that any medication your child is prescribed has been tested in children. Many have not, and based on our lab's work and others, many of these untested medications may cause brain damage.

If you are told you are turning your child into a wimp, so what? You are not going to cripple your child. When your child becomes a teenager, all attempts at turning him or her into your baby forever will be washed away by their peers. This is an unavoidable reality; thus, you are not damaging your child when they are young by being too protective. If you have a child with disabilities, your overprotectiveness will often be the only protection your child has. Children are resilient, and their brains will continue to develop well into early adulthood. Freudian bullshit is exactly that, bullshit.

I hope that pep talk helped.

On another note, my mother is finally breaking free from my father and getting her own finances into a happy place. She has actually visited with her retirement planner and the bank, and she is finally setting up a trust for my brother so that I will have money to take care of him in the future. I'm proud of her for trying to become more independent. Of course, even though she makes me pull my hair out, I'm always proud of her. I just wish she'd understand what "emergency" means when she's talking to my answering machine.


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