“If only people would understand and not judge us, our parenting or our child…and not desert us.”
I know a young boy with an infectious laugh, a wicked sense of humour and an uncanny ability to dismantle and correctly reassemble anything (especially electronics). He is an amazing artist and can run like a gazelle. He gets tons of exercise and eats every colourful, nutritious vegetable put in front of his sweet little face by his devoted mother. He is 11 years old and is a loving, intelligent, energetic little ball of fun.
He also, on occasion, hits his mom…hard. And he yells…really loudly. And sometimes he breaks stuff. And, now and then, his behaviour scares people four times his age and more than twice his size. He is a wonderful little person who happens to have, in addition to other diagnoses that pose their own unique challenges, something called Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD.
I have a decent understanding of ODD and the many other disorders such as ADHD and anxiety that tend to accompany it and tout myself as being a pretty well-informed nurse. But what I haven’t been, sadly, is a very good friend.
I stand before you, heart in hand, to admit that my many years of nursing and parenting education and experience have not prevented me from consistently failing my good friend who is the tireless mom of this beautiful boy whose family lives the reality of ODD. I am embarrassed to say and can feel my ears reddening as I tell you how I avoid interacting with this family because of my own impatience and intolerance of his sometimes unattractive or alarming behaviours. That is wrong and I am very sorry.
Kids are good. All kids are good and they do well if they can. There is no such thing as a bad kid. A grown-up’s job – MY JOB – is to be aware of my own feelings, thoughts and behaviours, and to be patient and kind and educate myself on how best to provide the care this family needs and deserves.
Over the past couple of years, I‘ve met a number of other families with a strikingly similar parenting tale as my friend as they describe their family’s journey with ODD. As I listened to their stories and asked them what they felt might ease their stress or provide comfort or relief, they all replied in a similar way, “If only people would understand and not judge us, our parenting or our child…and not desert us.”
This blog is dedicated to all the children and their families who do the best they can, day in and day out, to live with the impacts of ODD and other children’s mental health challenges in their lives. It is also dedicated to the friend I’ve let down for years who deserves all the love and support a person can possibly get for being a spectacular mother, and a patient and forgiving person. A mental health issue does not define a child, but the way I treat my friends goes a long way in defining me. Be better than me. Be there for your friends. You can do it…and so will I.
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO)
- E-BEST (Evidence-Based Education and Services Team)
- Parents for Children’s Mental Health
- Community Health Resource Group
- The Offord Centre
- The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
So – what d’ya think? Share your thoughts with us.
- Leave us a comment below
- Tweet with us @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)
Well said, Paula. I know I can relate to being on both sides – receiving and giving end – of this one. And I like your challenge of being “…aware of my own feelings, thoughts and behaviours, and to be patient and kind and educate myself on how best to provide the care this family needs and deserves” ring so true. Thanks for the challenge to follow up on those words.
Wow, what a powerful message Paula! It helped me reflect on our community’s ongoing learning journey towards INCLUSION and ACCEPTANCE. In high school, I began to see how my circle of family, friends, neighbours and professionals were composed of unique individuals who all desired similar things… to be loved, accepted, and respected for the beauty they bring to the world. When I started my career working with families who have children with special needs, inclusion was not a family’s experience. Instead, parents were faced with a segregated school system and many community obstacles that hindered the development of a sense of belonging. Today, I believe we should embrace our growing pains. Let’s take pride and be engaged in our community’s desire to be inclusive, accepting of differences, and continue to reach out to each other. Together we can strive to rise to the challenges that we are presented on a personal and professional level. From individuals with special needs and their families, I too have heard how comforting it is when others listen to their story, are supportive of their challenges and most importantly are non-judgemental. Thanks Paula for sharing and bringing such an important topic to spot light.
Thanks for your insights ladies! Glad it resonated with you…it was truly from the heart.
I was directed to your blog by my granddaughter’s caseworker. I especially like this post. Perhaps you would enjoy visiting my website at http://www.challengedhope.com which summarizes my struggles and challenges as a grandparent raising mentally disabled grandchildren in the city of Hamilton, ON