Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Tag Archives: bad parents

I belong to a lot of mom groups online. They range from funny to scary to informative. In one of them, though, there was recently a post that first made me giggle and then made me think. Sadly, it has been deleted, so I can’t share a copy of it here, but I wanted to at least share the content.

A mom posted because her mother-in-law had warned her that she might be turning her son gay by painting his toenails. The mom felt that what she was doing was okay because it was only his toenails, and she only let him pick from green or blue. She wanted input on if this was acceptable behavior or not.

I had to wonder – what about painting his fingernails was going too far? Would he suddenly snap and start liking boys? And what about the color choices? If she let him choose pink or purple, would he start cross-dressing? What kind of rules had she created, and what was the logic behind them?

I went back to look at the posting again because I wanted to see what advice the other moms had offered up to this woman.

As for me, I hadn’t – and didn’t plan on – leaving any advice because it would have been wasted.

Anyone who worries that they will “turn” their child gay – honestly, anyone who worries that their child will be gay at all – has their own set of issues, and they aren’t going to listen to me.

But maybe you will.

Let me tell you a story.

Be careful!  Looking at an attractive man might make you gay!  Image stockimages via

Be careful! Looking at an attractive man might make you gay! Image stockimages via

When my son was about two or three years old, he found a greeting card at the store that had a picture of a super-muscled up man, naked from the waist up. My son loved the card. We bought it for him, and he would carry it around, propping it up wherever he was so that he could stare at it.

We didn’t worry about it or stop him from looking at it in fear it would “make” him gay. We didn’t worry about it or stop him from looking at in case he was feeling same sex attraction (albeit at a super young age). What we did worry about was how his autism would affect his future relationships if he continued to have the same level of communication and sensory issues that he already had, as well as other problems that we knew he might run into as he got older.

Because, let’s just be honest here, what’s wrong with being gay? How is it bad? Why is it something to worry about?

Worry about making your kids judgmental.
Worry about making your kids cruel.
Worry about making your kids insecure.
Worry about making your kids rude.
Worry about making your kids ignorant.
Worry about making your kids assholes.

Those are all valid thing to worry about. Worry about them.

Ugly Dog Stickers

Seriously – he likes these.

I think that all parents, sooner or later, believe they are the worst parents in the world. Or sometimes, perhaps, they think that they are perceived as the worst parents in the world. And, I have to say, sometimes they really *are* the worst parents in the world…but normally those who feel that way are anything but the worst – because to truly be the worst, they would have to see nothing wrong with their parenting, right? See how that works?

Image this scenario, though: a family of three (mother, father, son) goes to an ice cream shop. The mother and father order bowls of ice cream. They get nothing for their son. The woman behind the counter asks if he wants anything, and the parents say, “No, he doesn’t like ice cream.”

Now imagine this scenario: the same family goes to a toy store. They wander the aisles, repeatedly asking their son, “Do you want this? Do you want this?” He says “no” every time, and if they attempt to put something in their cart, he forcibly removes it and returns it to the shelf. When they check out, the only thing they have purchased is something for the parents. The cashier asks, “Does he like [fill in toy name here]?” The parents say, “Uh, no, that’s for us.”

This is what it’s like whenever we take our son out. He does not like ice cream. Honest. We’ve tried to get him to eat it repeatedly, and even if we can get him to try it, he refuses it the minute he lets it touch his lips. The basic rule is that if you need a spoon to eat it, he won’t like it or be willing to try/eat it. He also never wants things when we go out. We will walk through Target, through Toys R Us, through any place you can think of, and each time we ask him if he wants something, he says no. If we think he may like it and try to buy it – or if we try to buy something for ourselves that he thinks is for him – he will reach in the cart and return it to the shelf, over our protests.

It feels pretty horrible to constantly be told that you cannot buy anything for your child. By your child.

But that’s also why, when he asks for something, we buy it for him. It’s so few and far between that we’re always shocked when it happens, but we never waste any time in getting it for him. Admittedly, he often gets the toy home and then ignores it, never to touch it again. That’s okay, though, because at least we got to buy him something that he wanted and gave him a gift that he liked, even if it’s only for a little while.

So the other day, we were at the dollar store. He had rejected everything we had offered – he loves their paper/drawing pads, and we always stock up on those, but he hates their crayons because they’re not Crayola. He’s a massive Crayola snob. But this time, he didn’t even want paper. Everything was met with a “no.” Until we got into the line. Then he wandered over to the quarter machines at the front of the store and started trying to make the one with glittery stickers work. He got the idea – you shove the little metal thing into it – but he didn’t have any quarters, so clearly nothing was coming out. I dug through my wallet, found two quarters, and handed them over. He slide the slid, and wham, out came a set of what had to be pretty much the ugliest stickers of dogs in the world. Super ugly stickers. And he was thrilled.

Now, Simon has a very clear idea of what to do with a sticker. He puts it on his arm. I have no idea why this is. But every time he has a sticker, he peels it off the backing, slaps it on his arm, and keeps it there for most of a day. He does it when he gets them at the doctor’s office or when he gets one at the grocery store at the check-out. And he did it with these. The ugly little glittery dog stayed on his arm for most of the day, only to come off when it was bath and bed time.

I’m not sure if we’re really the worst parents in the world or not, but I think that letting him wear that ugly dog sticker might rank us pretty high up there.