By Rossa Forbes – Let’s not demonize parents, and work together

NAMI started when it got too common to demonize parents for their children's problems.

NAMI started when it became too common to demonize parents for their children’s problems.

This originally came from a post on Mad In America, about Jani, a six year old with a schizophrenia diagnosis, who has gotten much media attention which was sought by her parents. The comments link to the parents’ admission of child abuse, which may have pre-dated the psychosis.  But the question is, is it fair to publicly criticize these parents? Is it fair also to put a child’s health information online?

My blog is directed at parents, not ex-patients who are well-represented in the recovery movement. We parents are not well-represented, but are highly influential.  Most of us lack knowledge of how to help a person recover.  The psychiatric system is infantalizing.

I don’t gloss over the complexities of what happens to people. I do wish to highlight the alternative healing that my son and I have undertaken. In the absence of Soterias and Open Dialogue programs, which we wish were available to all who need them, it is sometimes irresponsible to refuse meds.

Parents Got Most of the Blame

But is it healing to use inflammatory language to jump all over parents — women in particular — as the source of all systemic ills? Why aren’t you using your experience to work towards uniting people to move forward?

Dr. Gwen Broz, Corinna West's mother, is part of the solution.

Dr. Gwen Broz, Corinna West’s mother. is part of the solution.

Don’t forget, NAMI got started because parents (mothers in particular) wanted to stop being blamed for their children’s “mental illness.” If we in the recovery movement can’t be more knowledgeable and understanding of the difficulties of overcoming the diagnosis from the point of view of parents, then we risk going back to the bad old days.

It is pretty clear that parents who write about their lived experiences with their grown children are not treated with the same respect as others who have lived experience.

Recovery Advocates Who Demonize Parents Are Wrong

In the recovery movement, there are many voices.

Be very careful about refusing to engage an influential part of this movement constructively because of one’s own troubled relationship with a parent.

Parents are influential because our numbers, and we are expected to take care of the person in distress and unable to function. We also need help and encouragement.  If invalidated by the people many of us wish to be our allies, the recovery movement has lost a powerful voice. Why not, as Ted Chabasinski argues, join together in directing the anger towards the laws and institutions of oppression rather than picking petty fights with each other? That’s a lot of wasted talent.

Is it right to demonize parents always as part of the problem?   Can they be part of the solution?

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