Well, not unexpectedly, I didn’t receive a response to the comment I left yesterday on that woman’s blog. Although I gather that her blog site is currently out of action because she is changing the format. Interestingly too, since her appearance on the radio show I talked about yesterday and the increased traffic her blog has received as a result, she has set up a Facebook page with a link to a donation site to raise money for her family.
More power to her if that’s the route she wants to take.
As you can gather, I’m very sceptical about any media input (or any level of subjective interviewing for that matter) where personal family matters are concerned. As it happens, I have my own axe to grind with the agencies who have interviewed my family for the purposes of producing court reports, and I will discuss these in the near future once (if) the bitterness wears off.
I’m adding the comment that I sent to this woman yesterday to my own blog, because I was well aware at the time of writing it how much it meant to me and how passionate I felt about what I was saying. My son has done some pretty horrible things to me in the last year or two, and since reading a couple of lengthy reports written about him recently –the kinds of reports that dig deep and gather information from all sources, such as school records, counselling notes, police records, drug workers, and Boo himself – I gather he has done some pretty horrible things to other people too. In fact, according to these reports, he started doing some of the things when he was still in primary school , and he is only 13 now. Despite this, despite looks of disdain from other parents as I waited for him to come out of school, despite “friendly” advice from family members saying I was too weak and needed to bring a bit of corporal punishment into his life, I have never found space in my head to demonise my son. Labels are dangerous things, especially the negative ones, and I know from my own experiences that being labelled often creates the self-fulfilling prophecy.
With that in mind, this was the comment/mini-novel I wrote in response to myfamilymyvillage’s appearance on a radio show entitled “Bad Baby”:
Hello from across the seas again.
It’s interesting to see your massive rise in popularity since your interview on the radio, and I am glad that this has potentially increased public awareness of the difficulties that a child with Conduct Disorder displays and causes others to experience around them. I think you made a comment in one of your posts prior to the airing of the show that I may be one of the few people who can understand what you are going through because my son also has this disorder, so opening up the public awareness can only be a good thing.
I had an opportunity earlier today, finally, to listen to the interview you did on the radio.
I can totally understand why you would agree to take part in such an interview. In the past, I was invited to be on one of our British shows about troubled children (It was a spin-off with Jo Frost from “Supernanny” fame), and it was so tempting.
However, in my case, despite feeling like I was running out of ideas and the programme offering a chance for professional input and follow-up assistance, I eventually turned the show down, and I’ll tell you why.
Granted, my case was different, in that this would have involved actual television cameras filming my son’s behaviour then broadcasting on a regular terrestrial channel – so one of my fears was the impact the cameras would have on my son.
Would he really act “naturally”? I didn’t think he would. He was nine at the time, and I feel he may have tried to be “good” – because, despite his lack of empathy, my son is astute enough to know that his behaviour is unacceptable from a social standpoint, and he isn’t keen for “outsiders” to know how he acts in the house around me.
On the other hand, he could have completely acted his “natural” self. In which case, I felt that the fallout from people potentially recognising us and treating him differently, particularly at school and in his social circles, would have been unfair to him.
However, my biggest issue was in the potential for the show to manipulate the situation for their own agenda. The media thrives on hype and shock-value. Despite any way we may have presented ourselves, they had the technology to edit and manipulate the scenes to present my son at his worst. And I wouldn’t run the risk of portraying him that way.
With that in mind, I have to say that your small segment on that radio did come across as shocking. Is that really how you intended it to pan out? It gave an eerily sinister portrayal of your son – complete with little clips of scary music in the background.
I listened to the segment with sadness and disappointment as the narrator, fortified by short soundbites of your voice that could have been clipped from any part of your taped interview, presented your son as some “Damien” child, and you and the rest of the family as unsuspecting victims.
Don’t get me wrong – I GET that he does not act in ways that are socially acceptable AND dangerous at times AND harmful and scary. My son does too and it is a nightmare to maintain ‘normal’ maternal instincts.
But, I feel it was a distorted portrayal.
As I told you before, I have read your blog almost from the beginning, and I remember your post about the day he broke your nose, because I commented on it (March 7th “Psych Hospital Part Two”).
The show gave the impression that he broke your nose simply because you were trying to give him a hug. But that is not the whole picture as you explained in your blog … The show made no mention of the changes in meds at that time, nor the fact that your husband had just left and he wanted you get up. Nor does it specify that the “hug” you were trying to give was actually an attempt to restrain him as he tried to get you out of bed. I see little comparison between that “snuggle” which in your own words you admit to being a type of trickery to restrain him from leaving the bed, and the type of “snuggle” he asks you for when he is calm.
The show also said you and your husband “tried even tone of voice when he acts up.” The implication was that this is how you always deal with him, but you have admitted in many posts that you have (understandably) yelled at him, joined in “smackfests between him and his brother,” grabbed him, pulled his feet from under him, and today the vinegar trick.
I know you don’t want to hear this, and I will be astounded if this comment ever gets published on your blog – but that show did not portray the full context of your family dynamics, based on what you write in your blog.
I have NO soapbox. I have NOT dealt with my own child in appropriate ways – I have been inconsistent in setting boundaries, in discipline, in displaying love and affection, and in the life decisions I have made that have had some massive impacts on his psyche.
But my son is NOT a monster. He is struggling with a illness that is bigger than him, causing him to act in ways that are misguided and often harmful and dangerous. That has a lot to do with him … but it also has a lot to do with ME … and I own that.
Similarly, YOUR son is NOT a monster – but that show (and at this point I point the finger at them, not you) portrayed him as one, with no mitigating context whatsoever.
That may have been out of your control – I don’t know what they edited out (or in). But while you now appear to be seeking further shows to appear on, I hope you will seriously consider the picture they are painting, and ensure that you are completely objective if your eldest is to receive the help he desperately needs.
© Alice through the Macro Lens