By Betsy Rosso
One of the best things about social media—and Facebook in particular—from where I sit as a mom is both the crowdsourcing for suggestions and the support and sympathy you can receive when something is going on with your kid. Any time of day or night, friends out there—whether it’s someone who sat next to you in high school American History, or a former co-worker, or the parent of one of your kid’s friends—will offer you advice and encouragement.
You can post about your kid’s ceaseless cough—as I did last night—and people will offer honey and humidifiers and home remedies. You can post when your kid won’t sleep, won’t eat, fell off the jungle gym and had to go the ER, got tubes for ear infections, and the list goes on. Parents out there are very understanding and you feel like you’re less alone in dealing with your traumatized or traumatizing child. No one says, “Wow, you must be a terrible parent for letting these things happen to your kid,” or “Your kid sure is clumsy!”
But, as Dr. Hodges points out in It’s No Accident, and his predecessor, Dr. O’Regan, pointed out to Dr. Hodges, no one wants to talk about poop or pee. No one is going to post on Facebook, “Hey my kid had five accidents today and I have no idea why!” Or, “My kid pooped in his pants at school again—man that sucked!”
It’s embarrassing. No one wants to talk about it. Even though pee and poop accidents are clearly NOT the fault of the child, as my family has certainly learned over the past year and a half, there is still a huge stigma that somehow the accidents ARE your child’s fault or, inexplicably, YOUR fault for not correctly potty training your child.
Even well-meaning strangers or acquaintances don’t necessarily understand what’s going on (and why would they, since the truth about accidents has not been widely told until now). Thankfully (and I am very, very grateful) we have wonderful family members and friends and teachers who have tried as best they can to understand the physiological reasons behind Zoe’s condition and have supported us through everything we’ve dealt with. Thanks, guys.
Still, I feel like most people don’t get it, and unfortunately that extends to many doctors and early childhood educators who absolutely need to get it. That’s why I’ve tried so hard to tell people about Dr. Hodges’ work with our family, how he has helped (and continues to help) Zoe, and why the book is so important.
It turns out that several friends of ours have experienced problems with their children having accidents at one time or another. Many have come to me, knowing what we know, and asked for advice. I have told them everything I know and encouraged them to seek additional help if they need it (although I don’t know local doctors who are equipped to address this issue, which is why we ended up driving more than 300 miles to see Dr. Hodges and his colleagues for treatment our insurance didn’t cover much of).
I don’t know how to erase the stigma of pee and poop problems, other than to continue to publicize the roots of the problem and the solution. I hope someday people won’t be blaming parents or children for potty issues, but will be working with them to help their children be healthy without fear or embarrassment. Then at least they can stay dry when they fall off the jungle gym and head to the ER for stitches.