Child Protection for the Autistic Child - A Resource
PERFECT ''having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.''
I had a good childhood in that my parents never made me feel as though what I thought and felt did’ent matter. I am very grateful to them for all the love they gave me but they were not perfect as people nor as parents. So far, so normal, I think. We have evolved to cope with imperfect parenting in an imperfect world. We have also evolved to grow, learn, adapt and more often than not, develop wisdom as a result of our experiences – both good and bad.
Each of us is different and indeed flawed yet as a society we seem to hold parents, particularly mothers, to a standard where they have to be 'bog-standard perfect' not to be blamed for every ill that befalls their child and sometimes it seems, every ill in society. Traders in many parenting programmes ( people who sell their services in the use of a particular parenting product ) seem to make a good living predicated on making grandiose and rarely challenged claims about their ability to improve the world by improving parenting capacity. ( See for example PLEASE SAVE THE DATE: Promoting Positive Parenting to Help Make the World a More Peaceful Place. For information on the 'Positive Parenting' trademark see here For terms and conditions of use of the Positive Parenting Programme "For peace at home and success at school'' see hereeg "Our products and services are provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. In no event shall our organization (or any business or individual associated with Positive Parenting CT) be liable for any damages including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, special, punitive, incidental or consequential, or other losses arising out of the use of or inability to use our products or services." ...so much for making the world a more peaceful place.?)
I know parents can do very bad things to their children or be very unsafe to be around even when they love their children. I know sometimes it is necessary to break families up to keep children safe. I know these are hard decisions made in a context where all decisions have the potential to be destructive and involve loss. If you have responsibility for and the power to make these decisions, expecting all parents to 'measure up' to an idealised image of a parent is unlikely to be good for parent or child. I also believe that it is fundamentally unethical and unfair to log all deviations from 'perfection' as evidence that parents are unfit to parent.
To be imperfect is to be human. It is unkind to hold other people to a standard that we cannot ourselves achieve and cruel and unjust to break up families on that basis. Parenting is the most challenging and rewarding ‘job’ you will ever take on and some parents have a lot of challenges for lots of reasons, many of them outside their control – this picture of imperfection is the one that I recognise.
Understanding risk, being able to listen to children* and their parents and having resources to build capacity are likely to be better for all than aiming for perfection.
* it is easy to see protection as the primary aim of the rights of the child when the problems created by our changing world upon which those rights are brought to bear so often affect a child’s safety and wellbeing. This has been recognised in other contexts as a ‘protection imperative’. ... We must be careful not to allow the fact that the changing world often places children in positions of grave risk and danger to stop ourselves from asking children what they think about their position and what they think should be done about it, and listening to the answers. https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/macdonald-j-childrens-rights-in-a-changing-world-alc-conference-20171127.pdf
“Gillies, Edwards, and Horsley (2017) build a powerful case for understanding contemporary policy as something of a perfect storm. The coming together of a social investment policy framework, brain science and corporate interest has generated and justified an unprecedented growth in early intervention programmes targeted at impoverished mothers. The racist, classed and sexist implications of this approach have gone largely unexamined:” http://www.reimaginingsocialwork.nz/2018/01/a-new-paradigm-for-child-protection-practice/