A Washington Post “Parenting” Columnist’s Stunning Ignorance!

I’m very grateful that someone shared with me today a column in the Washington Post called On Parenting by their “parenting advice” columnist, Marguerite Kelley, who also appears on radio and TV, so her opinions are shared far and wide.

Her advice made me sick.

A couple wrote in about the trouble they were having with their 10-year-old adopted twins from China. Why are they so demanding? So oppositional? So emotionally immature? What are we doing wrong?

Ms. Kelley’s response? You need to be tougher with them! Don’t give in! More structure! Chores! They need to be more self-sufficient! That’ll whip these little brats into shape! Never once – NOT ONCE – does she mention the boys’ adoption, even though the parents disclose this right up front! I was absolutely stunned, though I shouldn’t have been. We got exactly the same advice about Casey with tragic results! The comments following the online post are equally ignorant, but I don’t blame them for being ignorant. This one comment really stuck in my craw: dear lord the kid is TEN and still throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants and when it’s bedtime?

Classic attachment.

What is even more troubling about this column is that it appears in a publication with the reputation and reach of the Post, which implies a certain degree of gravitas on those who write for the paper. Readers assume the advice is legit.

Ms. Kelley and her followers won’t like this but I’m sharing this post to you and will comment on her page so that people like her, with no qualifications whatsoever in adoption therapies, dispense bad advice to struggling adoptive children and parents.

Here is the Washington Post link.

P.S. Sorry for all the exclamation points. I’m really mad and you should be too!


15 thoughts on “A Washington Post “Parenting” Columnist’s Stunning Ignorance!

  1. OMG..that is unbelievable. Someone lead me to that woman last week and asked me to pose the question why is rad so not well known about. I did. I did as the person asked me to. didnt know this woman was an idiot of epic proportions. i know your writing. Single mom of 20 yr old daughter adopted at 8.5 yrs old from siberia. i live in fear. thank you for sharing your story. Mindy

    Sent via the Samsung GALAXY S®4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    • Thanks. Yeah I’m afraid Ms. Kelley is about to have a very bad day and I implored her to issue a retraction and apology to this poor couple. Will she? Doubt it.

  2. Brooks, Novick, Carlee:

    I thought the last paragraph about service and consideration to the whole family was all right.

    But the rest! The columnist did not know of which she spoke!

    Some of the commenters mentioned various cognitive developments which strike up at the age of the twins. And how these would interact with the emotions.

    (And, yes, when I was 9 and 10 years old, I wanted to be constantly entertained. By my peers, by my parents, relatives, anyone). Perhaps not constantly, but “entertainment”/”stimulation” was – when I wanted it, I wanted it!

    • Perhaps I reacted to the column out of emotion, and indeed not all adopted children have attachment issues, but I’ve learned that many, if not most, do. The simple fact that the parents said right up front – as we did – ADOPTION – should’ve been a major tip off to at least have the boys assessed by a qualified adoption therapist.

  3. John,

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I agree with your assessment of the poor quality of the article and have posted the following comment in response on the Washington Post’s page.


    We adopted my now 17-year-old daughter from Romania. She was abandoned in a train station by her biological mother, sent to an orphanage for a year, and then fostered out for a year before we adopted her at 3-years-old. While I am fortunate (so far) that she has not had debilitating fallout from the experience, she definitely had and now has residual issues. Experiences at this very formative time can deeply impact a person. She exhibited food hoarding behavior, went into a panic whenever she was put down for a nap, and screamed out with blood-curdling night terrors in the middle of the night. As an almost adult she is socially awkward and sometimes has affect inappropriate for the given situation. She is seemingly navigates huge life events with relative ease that would sent us into profound depression (death of her adoptive mother, friend who died in a house fire, grandmother’s death, etc.), but falls apart when confronted with the small problems in life (like her computer won’t work). Is everything rooted in her adoption? Likely not every single thing, but I will tell you it is a major influencer and makes her more vulnerable to other issues. I implore you to seek the counsel of a mental health professional who specializes in adoption. Adopted children have unique issues because of their experiences. I believe international adoptions add an additional layer. I am quite honestly alarmed at many of the comments that don’t seem to have the slightest grasp on this important topic. Conversely, I am relieved to read that several folks who responded do get it.

  4. Pingback: A Washington Post “Parenting” Columnist’s Stunning Ignorance! • SJS

  5. This type of parental arrogance is the norm around the world. What’s surprising is that they haven’t already drugged those kids, which is a common step for parents who are making parenting crucial mistakes that adversely affect their children. The USA drugs millions of children daily only to pacify the parents and not to help the child(ren). Children misbehave because they are being abused, neglected, or hurt in some way. Children are not born naughty or nice. They are made that way from how they are raised and from their daily environment. Nothing makes me sicker than when a parent bad-mouths their child or blames their child for their bad behavior, but in every situation where a child isn’t perfect their parents blame the child and are incapable of looking at their own behavior for the real problem.
    For instance just yesterday there was a 17-year-old in a nearby town who was busted right before completing his plan to murder his entire family and then blow up his school. A passerby saw a strange young man in a trench coat at a storage facility and reported it. The authorities found bombs, ammunition, and a journal of how the child was going to carry out the murders. But instantly everyone blames the 17-year-old and villainies him. Hello? Is there anyone out there? Is every that stupid or are they just that arrogant and ignorant? Obviously that young man has a terrible home-life and it is the parents who should be blamed and put under the microscope, but never does that happen.
    Even in the Sandy Hook school shooting no one had the guts to show the truth about the sick mother that Adam Lanza was cursed with. No one talked about how she alienated him from his father after their divorce or how she was so demented she took him to shooting ranges, yet wouldn’t allow him to cook at home because she was fearful that he would hurt himself. The world made Adam Lanza out to be the monster but really he was so emotionally and mentally tortured that he saw no other way than to kill himself and others. That is clearly a parent’s fault and responsibility.
    Another case in WI where a young mother dated and allowed her young child to be alone with a convicted child abuser. The convicted child abuser murdered her child but society felt so sorry for her that they never made her accountable in any way. Or what about the mothers who purposely allow pedophiles to molest their child so that they can have comfort and security? Some mothers will even allow someone to sexually abuse their child for a payment of drugs, but those mothers get no punishment whatsoever. Even Dottie Sandusky escaped any blame or punishment for actually adopting children for her husband to sexually abuse. She even heard the screams and did nothing, yet she walks away scot-free?
    What is wrong with you people! It’s disgusting how children are mistreated in this country, and in this world. That’s not even touching the surface of the horrible and purposeful ignorance that adults exhibit every single day while they ignore signs of child abuse by their neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives. No one speaks up and no one helps these poor kids. The adults in our country, specifically parents, are despicable and selfish.

    • And then the icing on the cake is when your child dies by suicide (as opposed to an unintentional death) there is zero empathy for the victim and loved one’s left behind. You should see my pile of hate mail and snarky insensitive remarks.

  6. It’s easy to pass judgement when the details of a situation are unknown. No parent is perfect and neither is any child. As an adoptive parent to eight children all grown now, I can say that adoption has had an effect on all of them, even the ones adopted as infants and even the ones who have become quite successful in life by any standards. It’s important to take adoption into consideration whenever there are problems, and even when there don’t seem to be any problems at all. A child who is bereft of his or her birth family has suffered a serious loss. There are always some questions for that child that can never be answered in a satisfactory way. Each child responds differently to the stress of adoption, and genetics are often a strong influence on the child’s ability to cope. Attachment is difficult for some kids and this can be a lifetime problem. Adoptive parents need to be loving, supportive and strong. Most importantly, we need to ask for and accept help. Brian Post and Heather Forbes have wonderful websites for adoptive parents. Also the best help is to talk with other adoptive parents and get together with their families. It can help maintain both sanity and perspective.

    • Both Heather Forbes and Bryan Post spread a ton of misinformation — their theories and parenting practices for a kid with RAD don’t even line up with the “official” list of RAD symptoms, i.e. the ones in the DSMV.

      The sorts of “problems” Forbes and Post claim to be “symptoms” of RAD do not appear in the DSMV definition of RAD — things an adopted kid not being snuggly on the adopted parent’s terms, “crazy lying”, triangulating adults and being extremely “manipulative”.

      What Forbes and Post recommend isn’t based on science and is basically geared towards getting the child to comply at all costs — a kid who is old enough to get themselves a glass of water or make a PBJ must ask permission from amommy or adaddy to do those things; a way too old to be a lap-snuggler kid has to lie in amommy’s lap, gaze into her eyes and be fed sweet caramels or drink from a baby bottle. That’s flat out creepy and a spectacularly inappropriate thing to do to a kid much older than, say, five years old! The whole approach is to make the kid need their parents in way that is not appropriate for a kid old enough to make PBJs and pick out their own damn clothes!

      (The Forbes-approved snuggling, eye-gazing and eating of caramels/drinking from a baby bottle? I’d have hated it, fought it, loathed it and flat-out refused to play that game with my parents. And I was raised by my biological parents, loved from the second I was conceived and never-for-a-second deprived of love/attention/food… I simply wasn’t a tactile kid. Even as a toddler! A 100% attached toddler!! Not wanting to be snuggled/groped by one’s parents is PERSONAL choice and even a small child has the right to say no to a snuggle!!).

      The kid in the WaPo article who was unable to amuse himself? Isn’t necessarily a kid with attachment issues — he could have ADD, ADHD, anxiety, be a bit on the immature side (happens with biokids too!) or, frankly, just have a nanosecond attention span.

      Nobody knows why Casey sadly committed suicide. Maybe it was RAD. Maybe it was depression. Maybe it was aliens that infested her brain… nobody knows and nobody CAN know, since she is no longer alive. And i’m hard-pressed to believe that forcible snuggling from her adoptive parents would have made her LESS likely to harm herself!

      • You are very right in your assessment. The bottom line for me is that something in many of these children’s early abandonment did something to them. Call it RAD (I’m really uncomfortable with that acronym), attachment or any myriad of other conditions or disorders (as you correctly point out ADD, ADHD, FAS and others) that simply get misdiagnosed. What I’m trying to say is that too many therapists ignore and whitewash the entire adoption issue out of ignorance and try to treat the symptoms rather than what underlies them.

  7. I only wish i had seen this Washington Post article before today. I am a 50 year old adoptee and I had/have attachment issues. Reading the comments in regards to the children that they, the children in question were 13 months old at time of adoption should have no bearing now. I only wonder if they have children. If so, do they think taking their 13 month old child and giving it to someone else would have any effect on the child? Think people, think. Keep it up John Brooks. You are getting the word out. You are going to save people. That is Casey’s Legacy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s