"It's taken eight years for me to stop feeling like a bad mother."

This mum has been judged by other mums and herself, but no more.

My son got an award for good behaviour at assembly last week, and I nearly cried. That sounds stupid, I know, because half his class were getting an award for something or other at assembly that day. But when I saw him up on stage, proudly holding his little certificate, I finally felt like I must be doing something right.

My son only started school this year. My daughter has been at school for three years. It’s been a difficult three years: meetings with the principal and the school counsellor, almost daily reports from her teacher or other kids about the disruption she’s caused that day.

When my daughter was four, she was diagnosed with Aspergers. I found it hard to accept the diagnosis, because she’s loving and creative and funny, and that’s not the mental image I had of an Aspergers child. But she’s always had issues. She gets very distressed at certain loud noises. She doesn’t cope well with unexpected changes in routine. She’s had meltdowns over things as minor as her crayons being rearranged, or me not standing in exactly the right spot to meet her after school. On top of all that, she doesn’t seem to care about what other people say or think. She’s always getting into trouble for not doing her work or going out of bounds at lunchtime or wandering out of the classroom during a lesson.

She's always getting into some kind of trouble.

I know people must see her as the naughtiest kid in the school. I've always felt like other parents must be making assumptions about what I've done wrong in bringing her up: I haven't taught her respect for adults, I've been too indulgent and let her get away with anything, etc, etc. I've wondered the same thing myself, sometimes. I'm not a strict parent. I'm the sort who believes in talking things through, rather than laying down the law. Yeah, that kind of parent.

I can understand that my daughter's problems with changes in routines are due to her having Aspergers, but how much of her disobedient behaviour is due to the Aspergers and how much is my fault? I've never been sure.  


I found out the answer this year when my son started school. I was nervous about how he would settle in, but day after day, his teacher had nothing but praise for him. He sat quietly on the floor with his legs crossed. He  did everything he was asked to do. He was no trouble at all. He was so well-behaved.

I love both my kids so much it hurts. My daughter is constantly surprising me, making me think and making me laugh. She feels everything so intensely: gets excited at the smallest things, cries bitterly at the tiniest disappointments, hugs me tightly if we've only been apart for a few minutes. My son is a joy to be with in a completely different way - chatty and sociable and thoughtful, always offering to help me out.

He's always doing the right thing at school.

My daughter has challenged me as a parent, and, I have to admit, made me doubt myself at times. My son has restored my faith in myself as a parent. He's given me the confidence to believe that I haven't got it all wrong.

I wasn't alone when I watched him receive his award for good behaviour last week. My daughter, who wasn't supposed to be at the assembly, had run out of her classroom because she'd heard music. She was sitting in my lap, with her arms around my neck, as my son stood on stage.

Later that day, my daughter was to receive her own award at another assembly. Her award was for resilience in coping with change. She is making progress.

And, in my own way, so am I.

Has your child's behaviour ever made you doubt yourself as a parent?

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