When the Guardian carries two pieces in a weekend alluding to violence and abuse from child to parent, (A letter to my teenage girl who hates me so very much and My ten year old daughter was bullied – is this why she has tantrums?) I think we can safely say that we are beginning to go mainstream.
Neither of these pieces is entirely straightforward – but isn’t that the point? Relationships within families are complex and varied. Violence and abuse has roots in so many different places. The tipping point between normal reaction and abusive behaviour can be hard to identify other than retrospectively. In both cases we see parents who are unimaginably sad for their children and at what is happening in their families, looking for answers and hoping for a better future.
The comments stream for the advice column makes interesting reading if you are as obsessed with this topic as me! Only a short while ago it might have been full of parent blaming censure. Now we see a more thoughtful response and discussion: an understanding of the long terms effects of bullying, a more nuanced interpretation of the behaviour and solutions, a whisper of trauma, and a debate about the current focus on autistic spectrum disorders – including whether we should be rushing to diagnosis as a first port of call.
We may not agree with everything written. You may share concerns about the assumption about ASD and the “diagnosis via letter” issue. Nevertheless, the fact that people are talking about issues such as this in a normal and healthy way is encouraging and marks a distinct step in the right direction for understanding and compassion to families experiencing violence and abuse from their children.