Will you parent our child? We'll pay you.
November 25, 2002 8:56 PM   Subscribe

This is probably the most upsetting job post I've ever come across. I don't know whether I should pity this couple or be really disturbed by them.
posted by croutonsupafreak (36 comments total)
posted by livingdots at 9:11 PM on November 25, 2002

Why, O Fellow NaNo? It seems like they're being honest about not being able to care for their son. Alternatives to seeking help include...just giving up and neglecting him?

This is just the sort of frighteningly difficult situation that underscores my desire to not have kids -- merits and joy and all that aside, I don't want that sort of responsibility.
posted by cortex at 9:12 PM on November 25, 2002

Clearly they are asking for the sun and the moon-- a full time Nanny with special training and unending patience for $250.00 a week. Yeah, that's going to happen. If they are serious in their quest for some time away from Morgan, I think he will probably end up in a special needs home, some place like a nursing home for disturbed children.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:18 PM on November 25, 2002

My family's pretty much lived with this times three for the last decade, so this really doesn't seem upsetting to me. It's more difficult to handle syndromes like OCD and Asperger's than a regular kid, to be sure, but it's hardly a tragedy, and this certainly wasn't advertised as one, though as treatment/therapy, it's farther than most parents would go. Then again, it's not a beneficial outcome for the parents to hang in there until they crack, and stick the kid in an institution. They may or may not have tried less drastic "pressure relief" methods, like the kid staying with arelative for one day a week. But that's really the first step that any family should take; they need time for themselves, and their other kids need chances not to be driven crazy too.
posted by dhartung at 9:19 PM on November 25, 2002

What is so desturbing about these people? The whole thing seems like a good plan to me, assuming they can manage to find someone with a lot of patientce, etc.

The real problem would be that if a person had enough crap they could just up and quit.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 PM on November 25, 2002

I'm in a child advocacy class right now: there are over 500,000 children in foster care in the US at present. Any measures that parents take to retain their children instead of throwing them into the system---however strange and unusual their method---is commendable in my book.
posted by adrober at 9:45 PM on November 25, 2002

Up and quitting . . .

A few years ago in Chicago, a family was found guilty of murdering their son - a young man who was quite horribly crippled, and mentally retarted.

After years of support, they snapped. It was too much for them to handle. How much better would it have been for all involved were they to have sought the help that this family is seeking?
posted by aladfar at 9:49 PM on November 25, 2002

anything is better than just feeding the kid pills until he becomes compliant .
posted by mishaco at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2002

The tone of the job ad read like a page from the satyrical Nanny Diaries, a book about wealthy parents and their inability to deal with their children.

I think in my ignorance about Asperger's I may have been insenitive. I am unfamiliar with the ailment. My parents managed to raise a child with OCD and four other kids with various other ailments, including epilepsy, social anxiety, ADHD, severe panic attacks, & more, without having to parcel us out to strangers. Wow, we sound a lot severly messed up when you reduce us to our diagnoses, huh? I'm glad our parents stood up for us and did their battles with the school systems and otherwise parented us rather than throwing up their arms in frustration and paying someone else to deal.

Here's a link to Asperger's informaiton that I should have probably have looked up before I made the original post.

As to the why:

pity because they seem to have learned a difficult lesson: Being a mommy/daddy is hard. It's a real job you should contemplate the ups and downs of before leaping into, especially when you have the resources to plan your parenthood.

disturbed because I hear too many stories about people thrilled at the prospect of having perfect children, but willing to farm them out the minute they exhibit the slightest flaw.

You all are right, it's better to realize you can't handle parenting on your own and to seek help than it is to abuse or neglect a child you don't know how to deal with.

But if you can't deal with any at least functioning child that the genetic dice roll may bring you, maybe you shouldn't have kids.

This rambling is proof that I shouldn't post after beer. I sound like and ass and I had better stop now. Good night.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:26 PM on November 25, 2002

This is upsetting. They recognize that they have shortcomings and are asking for help, which is good, but they're asking for a lot. They're asking to only have their child during weekends and school holidays. And in my opinion, they aren't realistic about how much they need to pay. Assuming one works from 3PM-11PM on Monday, 6:30AM-8:30AM and 3PM-11PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then 6:30AM-8:30AM on Friday, that's 40 hours. If one counts the hours overnight, it's a total of 89 hours.

At $10/hour, that would be anywhere between $400 and $890/week. And well, I think this person should get at least $15/hour, and hopefully well over $20/hour. A person working 40hrs/week at $20/hr. is $41,600/year.

Yet at the same time, this is putting a price on parenting a child. And this is upsetting. Isn't putting a price on parenting like putting a price on the child?

And on preview, it reminded me of the Nanny Diaries as well...
posted by jacobw at 10:44 PM on November 25, 2002

Agreed, they are asking for a lot. But:

It's a real job you should contemplate the ups and downs of before leaping into, especially when you have the resources to plan your parenthood.

What on earth makes you assume they did not?
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:55 PM on November 25, 2002

Lots of people, myself included, would love to arrange an unusual group child-rearing system. I can't parthenogenicize (is that a word?), and I don't really care for my genetics, so I'm not going to have children of my own. I'm not in a stable enough position to adopt, either. Me, I'd love to have a two-day-a-week child -- a long-term relationship of mutual benefit. And if someone would pay all the food and clothing bills PLUS a stipend, I'd seriously consider an interview.

Plenty of families are organized around less.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:13 PM on November 25, 2002

This is, frankly, rather creepy. If only because they're willing to entrust their child to the care of someone who would work for that little amount of money. If indeed the child does have severe mental problems, and not just trendy names they've discovered for a badly-behaved, spoiled kid, then he certainly could need better care than the first desparate applicant to come along.

Perhaps they could take out a job ad for a part time older brother who can knock him around when he's bing stupid but look out for him when he needs it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:15 PM on November 25, 2002

If it were allowed this family would probably take their child to an euthanasist and be done with him. They have already decided their other offspring are more important.
posted by flatlander at 11:25 PM on November 25, 2002

You try living with a (ahem) special-needs child and seeing what effect it has on your ability to remain patient, loving, caring, and merciful.

Spare me the judgment until you've walked in their shoes.

They sound like mildly spoiled yuppies who are trying to do the right thing by themselves, their children, and their son, and are being creative (if a little privilege-dazed) in doing so.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:31 PM on November 25, 2002

What makes you think they're yuppies? If they were, surely they'd be able to afford more than what they're paying. I think it's a couple who realise that they have a problem that could get much more serious if they don't ask for help.

I was a little disturbed however to see that they want more than a little help, they want someone looking after their child fulltime during the week. I mean, don't you want to parent him at all? I think that a lot of people don't have the support system that we used to have years ago of extended family and this is the result.

I feel for people with challenging kids like this and I think that asking for help is one of the bravest things they can do. Do I think they'll get it at what they're offering? Probably not. If your own parent finds it difficult to be with you, how much more so will a stranger (and a poorly paid one at that).
posted by Jubey at 11:44 PM on November 25, 2002

Did anyone else feel like a voyeur for reading that ad?
posted by drezdn at 11:50 PM on November 25, 2002

drezdn: no, not really. I read up on craigslist portland all the time -- it's a public forum/board, intended to be seen and read by all sorts of folks in and out of the metro area.

If you feel like a voyeur when an exhibitionist puts on a show in public...
posted by cortex at 12:00 AM on November 26, 2002

I'm sure it said this at the bottom... -

"Reposting this message elsewhere is NOT OK. "

nice bit of respect there crouton.

(and yes I do appreciate that posting things on the web leaves you open for anything...)
posted by Frasermoo at 1:54 AM on November 26, 2002

What makes you think they're yuppies? If they were, surely they'd be able to afford more than what they're paying.

Yes, they'd be able. But maybe they don't want to? This is what makes some yuppies yuppies: a love of money.

I have worked for many a yuppie. They pay shit wages and often demand unpaid overtime. I've worked for some yuppie business owners who became visibly upset every pay day!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:06 AM on November 26, 2002

What I wondered as I read this was, is their son informed of this plan, or is he going to find out only later, when they've found a surrogate family for him? I can't imagine any child put in this position -- special-needs burdened or not -- who would feel anything less that rejected by this method of parenting.

Though I know very little about Asperger's syndrome, the link about it provided above includes the line: "...have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness." One would think this project would be doomed to failure right from the start.
posted by contessa at 3:25 AM on November 26, 2002

Good article about a boy with Asperger's in last weekend's Guardian magazine.
posted by rory at 4:16 AM on November 26, 2002

Seems to me the article is about autism rather than ausbergers.

The whole thing is sad. I work in Juvenile Justice and we see a high co-morbidity of youth with mental health problems in the JJ system- much like the adult.

Ausbergers has a huge range of very mild to near autism. I also want to say that I think Ausbergers is going to be the ADHD of the 00's, highly overdiagnosed. That being said, seeing kids who truly have it, it is really sad. Most of us are used to the Rainman-esque cute autistics, but the youth that I see (do not construe this as representative, only anecdotal) can be taxing on anyone. Highly demanding, I'm talking hours of whining to get to play a video game, or watch TV, sometimes outwardly violent to parents, teachers, etc., overall they are just really hard for a parent to manage especially when you think about doing it for years.

That being said these folks with the advertisement both sadden and anger me. They clearly recognize their limits, but they seem to want the world. They only want the kid on weekend and holidays- that translates to me as: When the kid needs structure, attention and all of the things his illness requires, we are not interested in taking care of him. But when its fun time, we'll take him. To be frank that's garbage. Someone needs to work more with the parents to provide them respite, allowing them to continue to be with their son rather than farming it out to someone else. Is that idealistic? Absolutely. With the money they are offering, they should focus on more short term respite allowing them to recharge. If the kid is only with them during the fun times, things will only get worse from there.

Also, they say the kid is 11 and been in treatment for 10 years. So he's been in treatment since he was 12 months? To me, that speaks to the fact that possbly: they are lying, or the kid has much more severe symptoms than they portray in the ad, or they have been looking to others to fix their son for quite some time. Either way they are at the end of their rope, which is sad, because guess who's going to suffer becuase of it?
posted by CoolHandPuke at 5:04 AM on November 26, 2002

This is just freaky reading for me: I have a 10 year old son named Morgan.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:40 AM on November 26, 2002

I was a little disturbed however to see that they want more than a little help, they want someone looking after their child fulltime during the week. I mean, don't you want to parent him at all?
They have the child on the weekends. That's a bunch of time. During the week, they are looking for a foster parent, not a nanny. They want someone who will form a long-term relationship with the child, who the child will think of as another parent. This also explains the pay scale -- foster parenting doesn't pay hourly what a regular job pays.

I think this is great. Two parents is hardly enough, even for well-behaved kids. The nuclear family is an artificial and impractical construct. If our society had family and social structures that were more natural and flexible, these parents might not need to be going to the "market" for this. drezdn's comment about voyeurism -- that's why this ad read sort of like a personal ad.
posted by alms at 6:02 AM on November 26, 2002

Seems to me the article is about autism rather than ausbergers.

From the article I linked (which I assume is the one you mean): "Autism ... is defined by a pattern of behaviour. The diagnosis covers a wide spectrum, from high functioning, also known as Asperger's syndrome, with good language skills and no intellectual impairment, to totally mute and (although not necessarily) severely retarded. Stanley is high functioning."
posted by rory at 6:25 AM on November 26, 2002

The article says that on the advice of social workers and other professionals. I'm sure that they have thought about this long and hard. It is a little odd, but I applaud them for asking for help and are willing to shell out the money for it. For all we know, the social worker has recognized that perhaps a third party may bring a different dynamic into the boy's likfe that he may respond well to.

Don't judge these people. I worked in special ed in the public school system for 3 years and left because I burnt out that quickly. It's incredibly demanding (and rewarding), and I can't imagine what it must be like to live with this 24/7.

This sounds to me like the family is trying to save themsleves, including the other children. The other kids are going to start to feel the burden of neglect if Morgan demands so much of their parents' attention.

It's unconventional, but it looks to me as a creative solution , at least one worth trying.
posted by archimago at 6:25 AM on November 26, 2002

There are a huge number of inaccuracies in the Guardian article, mostly centering around the confusion between high-functioning autism and Aspergers, which are separate diagnoses.
posted by gordian knot at 6:38 AM on November 26, 2002

Fair enough. *shrug* I hereby retract my effort to throw a (seemingly un-) related link into the mix, and return you to your usual programming.
posted by rory at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2002

Unconventional? Sure. Crazy? Hardly. They are obviously trying to avoid what some of you are accusing them of. It would be much easier to just put him in a home of some sort. They want the kid to continue at school and come home on the weekends.

Based on what I read "between the lines" it appears the care demanded by this one child is undermining the rearing of their other children.

During the weekend, with more leisure, they are willing to dedicate that leisure to caring more for this child.

So, I land squarely in the "at least they're trying" camp. Also the "mile in someone else's moccasins" is especially appropriate.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:12 AM on November 26, 2002

Personally, I'm in the "I make more money to answer phones part time" camp.

A day care wouldn't take an average kid for that many hours for only $250 a week, how could they even hope to get someone remotely qualified to care for a child with so many special needs for so little money? That's what? $6.25 an hour? The McDonalds in my neighbourhood pays high school students more than that to make fries!
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:23 AM on November 26, 2002

I'm sure you all have seen "Helen Keller" or read the books about her. Yes, Helen Keller had more extreme problems than this boy probably does, but her parents did the same thing. They realized they were not equipped to deal with her and couldn't give her what she needed, so they found help elsewhere. And it worked out enormously well for the family and especially for Helen.

I am terrified of having a sick child like this. It would be awful. But what would be worse is if you just give up, put the child in some kind of home and leave it at that. At least they're trying something. And who knows, maybe it will work out well. It's not an unheard-of solution.
posted by aacheson at 8:24 AM on November 26, 2002

kellydamnit: most people do not take on foster children for the income. The reimbursements they receive (at least in my state) are nowhere near anything approaching a "wage".

People can be motivated by things other than money.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:55 AM on November 26, 2002

Okay, so basically these folks want a foster home and visitation rights. Is a classified ad really the best way to find a foster parent?
posted by jennyb at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2002

From time-to-time every parent of a child with severe disabilities has to endure what I can only describe as "dark nights of the soul" -- times when all their defenses crumble at once, leaving them face-to-face with the cold, hard reality that life is both desperately unfair and unbearably painful. People (being human) react differently to that reality. Many cope remarkably (you might say miraculously) well. But many others have to find ways to handle the pain. Some turn their children over to the foster care system. Some have their children institutionalized. And far too many conclude that death (theirs, their child's, or both) is the only answer.

Needless to say, in light of the alternatives, the parents who placed this ad deserve to be commended -- not criticized -- for taking steps to ensure that the worst case scenario never happens to them.

And I will leave you with this powerful article from Salon.com, in which a mother of two disabled children discusses a case in which parents were arrested after dropping their child off at a hospital because they believed they were no longer capable of caring for him. Anne Mitchell, the author of the article, sums it up beautifully:
The deinstitutionalization effort has put the responsibility for caring for disabled children on their parents. And getting help is damn near impossible. There is no government help, private agencies are short-staffed nightmares and school is a battleground. The Kelsos were charged with misdemeanor counts of child abandonment and conspiracy. If I were them, I'd stay in jail, go on a hunger strike and kick and scream until people start to notice. The world hasn't become a better place for the most severely, profoundly handicapped kids, or for their parents either. We can get in your face and make some noise, or we can keep making acts of quiet desperation like the Kelsos did. I hope you're so fucking shocked that you start to pay attention.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2002

Pertinent case in the UK two years ago.
posted by raygirvan at 7:27 PM on November 26, 2002

« Older What if you could live your life over again?   |   Interview with Google Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments