PARENTAL CHOICE OF LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT.

When I was eighteen, I had a problem with my car, which turned out to be from the carburetor, a young guy who worked in the photocopying department at the university where I attended said, “Mate, sounds like the spark plugs. What you do is start the engine and pull a plug lead off and if it doesn’t run better, then that’s a sign a plug needs changing.” Okay, as my father said, “Well, he’s half-right, in that, if you disconnect a spark plug lead and it goes “Bloob, Bloob, Bloob,” that that spark plug is still working, but if it does it for every plug, it’s not the spark plugs.” My mother’s reply was, “There’s an old saying, “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.”” To which I say, yes, there are multiple ways of saying the same thing, BUT, I would have said, “You’re young and impressionable. There are people in this world who don’t know as much as they think they do and prey on people who don’t know much about some things. And, some of those people, if things go wrong, won’t say, “Oh, sorry. I told them that and I shouldn’t have.” So, it’s better to ask someone who knows.”

After all, I can list two examples of such people. One was a man who worked for my father, who, when I got that car, told my father that he could tune it for him and went and bought a distributor cap and put it on the wrong way and when the engine wouldn’t start, was going to pull the engine apart and try to find the cause. On another occasion, this man serviced his own car and he used the wrong spark plugs, and wondered why it wasn’t running well, and took it to a mechanic who used the right spark plugs, and he then yelled at the mechanic, who then said, “All right, you want your old spark plugs back, I’ll give them to you.” And did. Then, the man yelled, “It looks like we won’t be coming back here!” This man did a pre-vocational course at a Technical College, and believed that he was a plumber, an electrician, a mechanic, a carpenter, when he had learnt the basics of a vocation. So, if you wanted to be a plumber, you could have learnt a bit, but you needed to be an apprentice for four years and pass your exams and be certified.

At the same time, I was someone who didn’t like going to the doctor because I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents’ GP. 28 years ago today, I changed. My mother didn’t want me to and said that they had my history. As much as I can appreciate her arguments, to me, it goes back to the morality of the 1950s, in this way. I have read and heard stories from people who were raised in dysfunctional families because their parents hated each other, and the reason their parents got married was because before they properly knew each other, they had sex and their mother told their father that she was pregnant and her family insisted that they get married. Sometimes, this spilled over into resentment for the child. I say that sticking with a relationship with a doctor you don’t like, just because they’ve got your case history, and that of your family, is akin to marrying someone you don’t love just because you’re either pregnant with their child or they are with yours.

My mother also saw it as traitorous because the doctor I had in mind was Chinese and hers was Australian. I said to her that, in my view, it was no different to someone aged 69, who, at 65, retired and was given their last company car, a Commodore, as part of their retirement package (it became theirs to own, not paid for still by the company) and they kept it for two years and traded it in on a Toyota Camry.

Sometimes, if a parent doesn’t want their offspring to do something, using strong language will only increase their resolve to do so. My mother making racial statements about Asian doctors only made me defend them. Okay, I saw two who weren’t very good, one who was all right and three who are excellent, but that’s the same for people from anywhere. There are good Japanese and bad Japanese. There are kind Japanese and cruel Japanese. There are good Norwegians, and bad Norwegians. There are kind Norwegians, and cruel Norwegians. There are good Nigerians, and bad Nigerians. There are cruel Nigerians, and kind Nigerians. There are good Columbians and bad Columbians. There are kind Columbians, and cruel Columbians. The list goes on.

Sometimes, you have to let people make mistakes, or learn for themselves, but you always have to be cautious about your choice of language, otherwise rather than saving your kids from making mistakes, you could be pushing your kids right into them.

--

--

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Peter Wynn

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.