i have heard the saddest thing from my own partner. earlier this year our 3 yr old son was diagnosed with autism. sad, yes but it could be a whole lot worse. hes not doomed to die in 3 months time. hes not going to be in a wheelchair etc. as long as my son is healthy and happy then theres nothing to stress about.
in a heart to heart with my partner he confided something to me. he believes that its his fault our son is autistic. he thinks that god is punishing him through our son for a past "sin" he commited (he did tell me the "sin" but i dont think its fair to write it on here)
i could not believe what i was hearing! i have tried talking some sense into him but how do you undo 28 years of brainwashing?
he was the same when his uncle recently died. he kept saying "what was his sin to die like that?" (his uncle had an aggresive brain tumour and looked like a corpse long before he died.)
it saddens me to hear this. does anyone have any advice for me so i can try and get him to stop blaming himself over our sons autism?

Views: 17

Comment by Kerry Murton on October 1, 2009 at 10:15pm
johan i completly agree with you. i cant believe the bullshit my partner comes out with sometimes regarding his beliefs. and thank you for your condolances. yes its hard but incredibly rewarding too
Comment by Nix Manes on October 1, 2009 at 10:43pm
From what I've seen, read and heard, there's not going to be much you can do initially. Someone who's feelings and beliefs run as deep as you've indicated is going to stay there for a while. If you try and get him to abandon those feelings, there's a chance he'll begin to ignore you and might even become resentful because you'll be seen as a liability to his search for answers.

Maybe the best thing to do is simply be someone who listens without judgment, at least for a while. When a person gets a chance to speak openly and not be criticized for it, they'll be much more likely to explore their position later--especially if you seem like you're handling it better than he is.

He's going to eventually ask why. That's the point where you can begin to explain yourself, calmly, lovingly and without any criticism of where he's coming from. He might still reject what you've go to say. But if you continue to be an example of the benefits your mindset produces, it'll be hard to ignore altogether.

It's difficult to not be proactive, but a forceful or questioning approach is, in my opinion, risky. People are drawn to those who project peace and calmness when they're looking for it. If you become that beacon, it's likely he'll come to you in the end.
Comment by Kerry Murton on October 1, 2009 at 11:12pm
my concern stems from the fact that his belief is destroying him mentally. he really believes he is to blame for our sons disability. i want to put a stop to this mental turmoil hes obviously going through
Comment by Nix Manes on October 2, 2009 at 12:40am
You might want to seek some professional advice, especially if you do think it is "destroying him mentally." That's a pretty serious statement. The fact that you've made it gives it some weight.

If for some reason you can't or don't want to do that, the only other basic approach is to try and guide him through his own logic and let him see where it leads. Let him talk it out with you, with you pulling him down his own path, a path he might be afraid to follow on his own.

If he thinks it's his fault, ask what he could possibly do about it now. He will either say "nothing" or "pray" for a cure. If he says "nothing," then you can try and let him explore that with the emphasis that the past can't be changed. If he says "prayer," then you might just have to let him do that for a while to see if it does provide any comfort and a change in his mental state. If it doesn't, or it consumes his life (praying all the time to the point of obsession), you'll have little choice but to seek professional help for him.

I certainly hope you find an answer that gets your family to the place it should be.
Comment by Prazzie on October 2, 2009 at 10:07am
Dear Kerry

I volunteer at a school for children with autism twice a week. To hear anyone say that God gave a child autism to punish a parent is so incredibly distasteful to me, it's really upsetting.

NixManes' advice is sound. Seek professional advice. Finding out that there is something wrong with your child is a traumatic experience. You seem to be coping, but your husband's reaction is not healthy, for himself or your family.

I would recommend that you make an appointment with a family therapist. If your husband won't go with you, go alone. You could also encourage him to go speak to someone at his church.

Perhaps your son is a bit young for you to become involved in the ASD community, but if you are able to meet with couples raising a child with autism, do so. Seeing other people of all races and religions (or non-religions) also dealing with the same problems might make your husband realise that autism is not a personalised punishment for his specific sin.
Comment by Doug Reardon on October 2, 2009 at 8:47pm
It is an act of incredible hubris to think that one is so important that another individual must suffer because of anything that one has done.
Comment by Wesley on October 5, 2009 at 12:12am
Hey kerry,,, I feel for you and your husband in this difficult situation. He definately sounds like he needs some counseling. Even a good liberal clergyman would be able to point out the error of self-blame and urge him to focus on what his son and his family need from him.

From the brief bit you have posted it sounds like your husband is carrying some guilt from the past with him.....and associating it with your sons autism is only ADDING to the problem. I think Doug is spot on on this one.. but I would apply it to your husbands situation that he thinks his guilt is so important that he is applying it to your sons autism and allowing it to control his life.

This is definately not the way to go. Professional help would be better but only if you could get him to go... that's why I suggested a liberal pastor... because he needs to unload this and find a way to deal with it in a more constructive manner.

Now that I've read over all the comments I think I'm pretty much in line with Jason...
Comment by Reggie on October 5, 2009 at 11:19pm
Now that I've read over all the comments I think I'm pretty much in line with Jason...

Me too, even though I usually make a habit out of disagreeing with him. ;)

I know there are many autism support groups for parents both online and in the real world. Try joining one or two and seek advice from people who may have had similar experiences. If there is one you can attend physically, see if your partner will agree to go with you. If he doesn't want to, don't try to force him, just go alone and see if you can find good ideas or suggestions for dealing with this and other issues.

On an anecdotal note, my aunt had her first child when she had breached 40 years of age and her son has Down Syndrome. She was so devastated that she rejected him and blamed herself. Nowadays, he is a healthy and vibrant boy and she would not trade him for the world. The point is that when some people get bad news it can be especially hard to deal with it. Don't lose hope that your partner will eventually deal with his issues and snap out of it. But seeking help and advice with those who have experienced the same things could be very beneficial for your partner and for your own peace of mind.


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2018   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service