Saturday, January 19, 2008

Parental Naivety Disorder

Since everything these days is a "disorder", because no one seems to want to accept responsibility for anything anymore (even for the most inane of things), I'd like to address the disorder I've decided to labeled Parental Naivety Disorder or PND.

PND is characterized by one or more of the following:

  1. The inability to accept that one's child is capable of being anything less than perfect.
  2. Being completely oblivious or in adamant denial that their child has gone behind the parent's back to engage in any activity they've been forbidden from engaging in by the parent.
  3. A belief that their child is incapable of being influenced by peer pressure.
  4. Denial that the parent's negative behaviours, such as fighting with their spouse, alcoholism, smoking and compulsive lying, just to name a few, have any effect on their child whatsoever.
  5. Adamant denial that there is any connection between their child's bad behaviour and their parenting skills (or lack thereof).*

*Extenuating circumstances, such as the child having a diagnosable mental illness (Bipolar, ADHD, Autism, etc.), must be taken into consideration as they can have a serious effect on a child's behaviour. However, having a child with an illness does not give any parent an excuse to deny a connection when it is clear that poor parenting is exacerbating or is the source of some of the child's bad behaviour.

Most parents will suffer a bout or two of PND at some point during their child's life, usually during the teenage years. But to receive the actual diagnosis, a parent must exhibit these symptoms at least once a month for a minimum of 3 months. In extreme cases, symptoms are noticeable weekly or even daily. It is not uncommon for the initial presentation of these symptoms to occur directly following a confrontation between their child and someone other than the parent, such as a teacher, neighbor, friend, extended family member, etc.

Several parents I know suffer from this affliction. My older sister is definitely one of them, with the last criteria being her major symptom. Coincidentally, that is also the symptom my younger sister displays most often, though not often enough to qualify for the diagnosis. Her husband on the other hand clearly has PND, with the last criteria being his most prominent symptom.

Without even mentioning it, I'm sure most people that read this blog can clearly identify which criteria applies to the stupid fuckhead sperm donor ex. A clear-cut case of someone with PND if ever there was one.

The mother of my daughter's boyfriend is another, as she is oblivious to the fact that her son, who is forbidden from even going on MySpace, has a page of his own on there. She also doesn't believe, because "he's a good kid", that he would cave to peer pressure. Yet one of his closest friends persuaded him to try marijuana, even after he proclaimed himself to be a straight-edge (which for those not familiar with the term means someone that refuses to smoke, drink, do drugs or have casual sex).

The parents of my daughter's best friend also have PND. Her father has no clue how badly his alcoholism is effecting her and apparently her mother is oblivious of it too because even though she has joint custody, she has never bothered to get a place big enough so that her daughter can come live with her, something she can easily afford. (She is now considering getting a larger place, but only because she wants to move to Vegas, not because she's concerned about her daughter's welfare.) They are unaware that their daughter is showing signs of bulimia and depression, and that she gets & sends sexually explicit text messages from a guy at school that is only interested in using her for sex (he has a girlfriend and it isn't her).

I'm not going to leave myself out. I admit, I too am guilty of an occasional bout of PND, though I don't meet the criteria for a diagnosis. At one time I believed my daughter would be honest enough never to try to go behind my back to do anything. I also didn't believe she would be swayed by peer pressure. Luckily I realized my naivety early enough to prevent any major catastrophes.

There are currently no medications that will relieve the symptoms of PND. Though I'm sure if this blog post gets to the pharmaceutical companies, they'll try and come up with one. However, there is a fairly simply cure that requires nothing from you but a bit of your time. Time you should have been giving your child all along because you chose to bring them into this world. BECOME INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE! No matter how young or how old they are.

Don't be overbearing, don't be overly nosey. Just be loving and supportive. Show interest in who they are, what they like to do, who they hang out with, what they're doing at school, etc. Show a genuine interest in THEM. Don't make assumptions that your child will do nothing wrong, won't be swayed by peer pressure. Even if you're the greatest parent out there, you can't be naive enough to believe your child will be the one kid on the entire planet that will never do anything wrong.

So, how many parents with PND do you know?


Blogger MB said...

I think every parent I know has that! I have 2 very volatile cousins (both have ASBO's and banning orders from the local pubs) yet my aunt won't hear one bad thing about them!

I completely agree with you Sid!

1:26 PM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Anonymous Mom said...

love this post sid!

3:49 PM, January 23, 2008  

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