with Lynne and Leslie

“Parenthood”‘s Kristina Braverman: Maybe she’s just a bad parent?

by SweetMidlife



Leslie here!

I have just a relatively scant eight month’s experience as a parent, versus 43 years being parented. But my folks were awesome, and they imparted to me, by example and by drumming it into my little head, that it was their job to prepare me for the world, because the world was too busy to worry about preparing for me.

“Parenthood”‘s Kristina Braverman really sucks at that.

NBC’s family drama, now finishing its last season, follows the extended Braverman family and their various domestic and romantic situations, and I find most of those situations relatable, which is to say that I want to alternately hug them and pop them upside their stupid heads. Kristina (Monica Potter) triggers my popping reflex more than anyone else, both as the mom of a son with Asperger’s and as the administrator of a new charter school for kids with behavioral issues, including her son.

For the non “Parenthood” devotee, Kristina and her husband Adam (Peter Krause) have made Max so much the focus of their lives that you would be forgiven for assuming that their other two kids were kidnapped by wood sprites and being held for ransom that’s never gonna come because MAX IS HAVING A PROBLEM. And girl, Max is always having a problem, and his parents (and maybe the “Parenthood” writers) might think that his Asperger’s-related traits – he’s incredibly, sometimes uncomfortably literal, doesn’t recognize social cues or other people’s emotions and is detail-oriented to the point of being rigid – are the reason that he’s often a pain in the butt.

Nope! I am not a disability expert and I don’t meant to speak definitively about it, but I love many people with them, and know that disabilities alone don’t make you a jerk! Parents who don’t set boundaries for their kids in the name of protectiveness and letting them be their own special selves make you a jerk! And that’s what’s happened to Max. Adam and Kristina – specifically Kristina – have a good track record of explaining to their extended family (and by extension to the audience) some of the things they might expect from Max. But they’ve done a poor job of explaining to Max that even though it’s not fair and he didn’t ask to have Asperger’s, that he has to try to see things from other people’s perspective, to be responsible to other’s feelings, and that there are social expectations of him that no one who doesn’t love him is gonna think is cute.

When Max pitched a fit because he couldn’t use a printer that his aunt Sarah had rented on her own dime for an important work project at the exact time he wanted because Sarah needed it, Kristina expected her to apologize for upsetting him because she couldn’t keep to his schedule, rather than saying “Max, I know you’re disappointed and that Aunt Sarah is using the printer when you’d been told you could, but she’s the adult, it’s her rental for work, and you’re gonna have to suck it up and deal.” When they didn’t it was disappointing, because they not only disrespected a relative who didn’t have to let him use her stuff in the first place, but because that doesn’t do that boy any favors.

And last night, when Max found his crush Dylan kissing another boy, he marches into his mother and principal’s office and demands the kid be expelled. That doesn’t happen, but when Max then passes around a flier detailing the other kid’s supposed crimes still insisting on that the kid get kicked out of school, then starting a fight with hin. Kristina’s response should have been to immediately discipline him, call the other kid’s parents and had a talk about, telling him in no uncertain terms that he was wrong and that he can’t lie about other kids because they disappoint him.

But of course she didn’t, leaving Max feeling justified to escalate things by making a creepy kidnapper collage of photos of Dylan, interrupting her lunch to declare his love for her in front of her friends and refusing to stop when she asked until she blew up and told him she was never going to love him and to go the heck away.

You should have seen me – I was literally standing over the TV, just knowing that this – THIS – had to be the moment where Kristina would be forced to be a parent and a daggone administrator by, as clearly as she good, telling Max that what he did to Dylan bordered on harassment, that while owning and relating his feelings is not only important but a few breakthrough for him, that he can’t force someone to feel the same way, and that when they ask him to stop, he must. But noooooo. She hugs him (a breakthrough for the touch-averse Max) and tells him that she’s proud of his candidness, but that he’s not in trouble, at which point I yelled some non-friendly words at the TV because come on. The Bravermans operate on the assumption that Max’s issues compel him to act a certain way, but they never seem to fill in the other piece, that he, like all humans, is responsible for the way that those issues affect other people. Not telling him this is not protection. It’s setting the stage for him to one day get punched in the mouth, or worse.

Max isn’t the only Braverman family kid whose shenanigans don’t get called out nearly enough. Adam’s sister Julia and husband Joel are going through a divorce, and their daughter Sidney, already a screamer-yeller, has gone straight into bullying classmates and losing her crap all over the place. Her reaction to her family crisis is understandable, but her parents’ response is to try to explain to the parents of the girl she terrorized how hard things were for Sidney, who has just given a snotty fake apology and run to the car without accepting any real responsibility for anything.

The victim’s dad, however, wasn’t buying it, telling Julia and Joel that he didn’t really care what Sidney’s problem was, as long as they were spilling over on his kid. This is what I want to see somebody – anybody – say to Adam and Kristina, and to Max, that things being hard for you doesn’t give you the right to take them out on other people, and that if Max proposes to not live in a cave, he’s gonna have to work that out.

I guess this affects me so much because I see all around me, in the newspaper I write for, the TV I watch and in the malls of the world, the philosophy that the world is supposed to conform to everybody’s wishes – that it’s OK for kids not to say “please” or “Thank you” because they’re “shy,” or that it should be alright for kids to bump into you in the mall, or be rude to strangers, because they’re “just kids.” No, they’re not. They’re future adults, and if the people in their lives don’t impress upon them their responsibility to check themselves enough to not cause harm to others, no one is going to like them. Many people are going to want to punch them.

And it won’t be a TV show.

27 Responses to ““Parenthood”‘s Kristina Braverman: Maybe she’s just a bad parent?”

  1. angiehaube@gmail.com' Angie says:

    Well…you know I still love ya’ll…but I’m gonna have to disagree this time.

    First of all…I love this show, and sometimes do forget that it is a show. It is written dialogue that actors portray beautifully – so fantastically well that it feels real at times. I think how those writers portray Max, and also the adult, Hank, both characters who deal with autism spectrum disorder is SPOT ON with what I see as a teacher who has students with Asperger’s included in her classroom on a routine basis.

    What you say you wish Kristina and Adam would do – tell him to suck it up, teach him to deal with life – sounds like, and in fact IS solid parenting…for a child without this disability. The nature of this spectrum disorder is that people with it tend to be inflexible and rigid in their thinking, and are in fact incapable of considering the feelings of others. It is not something that can be taught, reinforced, or learned by children with Asperger’s, as positive, pro-social behavior is with most children. Trying to do so is somewhat akin to asking a fish to climb a tree. It simply is not how their brains function, and the focus then becomes teaching them other, better ways to manage their environment and how to interact with it in ways that are less off-putting to others. They will never understand the impact of their interactions as a child without this disability would. It’s simply how they are wired.

    Autism is a mystery for many people – understanding why things happen as they do for a person with autism is something researchers still ponder and explore. If you know one person with autism…you know one person with autism. No generalizations can be made. Managing Asperger’s is a situation by situation experience for a parent, and one that I’m grateful that I have not ever had to navigate.

    Bottom line for me is that Parenthood is an amazing show for even trying to tackle this…and Adam and Kristina look to me like they’re doing it right. I hope you and those you love never have to find that out first hand…and I’m grateful that I don’t deal with that either.

    • erine3525@gmail.com' Erin says:

      I have to disagree! My son has Asperger’s, and while early on he displayed traits like this, his fits are now few and far between, he’s caring, has learned how to read emotions and is a very sweet , intelligent, loving boy. This has been due to discipline when he’s in the wrong and educating him about his wrongdoings and tons of therapy and being involved with his therapy! We make no excuses for him and hold him accountable for wrongdoing and greatly reward him for correct action. I watch this woman parent this boy on the show and I’m greatly frustrated at how they have portrayed what actually can be achieved with the right therapy and parents enforcing what they’ve been taught. As the parent of a child with Autism/Asperger’s I find this portrayal borderline insulting! I love this show but I find this so frustrating!

    • diva12rules@yahoo.com' Nicole Webster says:

      I have to back Erin up on this as well.

      I have a brother who has Aspergers. He was not diagnosed until he was a teenager, but we could tell something was not quite right with him. He would get fixated on a subject. He had a hard time understanding boundaries. He would get upset if a routine was not followed. He would have tantrums. He had and still has little tics that he does when he is exited. And he collects things like crazy and that collection has to be on display and he will get very upset if you mess with it. But never, not once did he get to the extremes that Max Braverman does. And my parents managed to get him to understand that he needed to let others have a turn to talk, that not everyone likes it when you get into their face and that throwing things at people does not get your way. They managed to do that without a diagnosis and without an aide to give him stickers when he accomplished something. By the time they actually had a name to his behaviors, his behaviors were already under control. Those who are high functioning autistic can learn to be functioning members of society- but not the way the fictional Braverman’s go about it.

      And on the other hand- I have a brother-in-law who is about as autistic as you can get. He’s almost 30, isn’t toilet trained, only says a handful of words, is mentally stuck at two years old. He will never achieve more than that, no matter how many therapists he sees. He does have the kinds of tantrums that Max Braverman has. But the epic tantrums that the character has on the show are ones that I expect to see in low functioning people with autism- not high functioning.

  2. SweetMidlife says:

    Leslie here! Thank you so much for your input and your insight. As I said in the original post I recognize that I am not an expert in autism or Asperger’s, but I do know a lot about families whose children with disabilities are socialized, with success and a lot of sweat and tears, with other kids and eventually adults in the workplace, church, and otherwise. And I know that even though it is harder for those kids to master the social mechanisms of those places, there has to be an effort to teach that to them. My issue is not with Max on his own as much as the way that the parents have not been shown to be teaching him these things, and put the onus on everyone else to adjust to Max.
    In the situation with Chambers Academy, all of those kids are there because of some emotional and social difficulty. Kristina must protect Max as his parent, but as an administrator she cannot put his needs over other people’s. And as he has been a victim of harassment and bullying in the past, how would she feel if she knew that her child had been targeted and there were no consequences? She does know, because that is why they started this school.
    I again thank you so much for this, because we can all be more sensitive to people, and to understand more what our fellow citizens are going through. But if they are going to be in society someone has to teach them at least that other people’s feelings are equal to their’s. I have been it taught successfully to other kids in my family and they thrive. I know that every kid is different, which is why the onus is on that parent. thanks for listening!

    • katysue992@aol.com' Kate says:

      I have a son who has autism and I think SweetMidLife has the right of it here. I started writing about what a crap job Kristina does with him but realized it would be a novel. Instead I’ll tell you that I have had therapists in our house 6-20 hours a week since our son was 2 1/2 (he is now 8) and I have taken a lot of parent teaching classes. Kristina and Adam basically do the opposite of what is recommended in nearly every instance. I could write a three page paper with her transgressions.
      I do think they love him (oh wait they have two other kids) and I applaud all the effort on their behalf. Maybe we are supposed to sort of dislike her? She is so obnoxious- oh wait maybe SHE has a little bit of difficulty in social situations and doesn’t totally grasp the importance of respecting other people. Hmm this is a new spin…

  3. angiehaube@gmail.com' Angie says:

    Thank YOU for engaging the conversation and for your candid insight. You don’t have to be an expert to have an informed opinion. I don’t consider myself an expert either, though I do have to deal with it on a daily basis because of my professional responsibilities.

    One thing I would say in response to your thoughts is that I understand the need for all people to be considerate of others and to respect differences. When you used the phrase “if they are going to be in society” hurt my heart a little bit, though. As a Jesus follower, I believe the onus is never on “the least of these” to modify themselves to be somehow acceptable to the dominant culture. Rather, I believe the burden is placed on ME as one who knows and loves Jesus to interact and serve people with disabilities where they are…without requiring them to conform to my standards of what is acceptable in society.

    Having a disability is no more a choice than is skin color…it is simply a fact of a person’s life. Imagine if someone had said the same about someone who is black – “…if they’re going to be in society someone has to teach them…” You don’t need to imagine, actually…sadly, it’s said all the time, isn’t it? Conform. Make yourself acceptable to the dominant culture…that you’ll never be part of…but do it anyway because it’s socially expected. That hurts my heart, too…especially for the times that it has unknowingly been ME who has said that with my actions and attitudes.

    This is a huge and complicated issue. I’ve struggled with it for 27 years as a general education teacher trying to ensure that equal access to the curriculum is available for my students with different learning styles and abilities. It’s one that I’ll continue to tackle daily until the day I hang up the chalk-holder and call it a career. I’ll never get it right…but I’ll also never stop trying.

    Thank you for your big heart on this…for allowing a television program open your mind and heart to question how we do things and how Jesus would want us to. I love that you’ve engaged this conversation! You may like this link…she has some great things to say as a person who lives with autism and Asperger’s day in and day out. http://www.templegrandin.com/

  4. Lesliegraystreeter@gmail.com' Leslie says:

    What a great reminder that we are all responsible to each other! Thank you!

  5. lynnechildress1@gmail.com' Lynne Streeter Childress says:

    HI!! I love this conversation. I know that I don’t know a lot about autism or Aspergers, besides having friends who are on the spectrum, some of whom are kids and some of who are adults. I don’t know what that journey is like as the journey-er, but as you said, Angie, I have been an “other” because of gender and race, and it does hurt when I am told that what I am naturally needs to be refined as if what that is isn’t good enough. People that Max interacts with need to be sensitive to who he is, because there are constants to his personality. However, though, that should end at him harrassing another child with no consequence. Dylan and the young man she likes both have their own needs, and when Dylan called Max “Aspebergers” that hurt Christina, but this seemed to be written as something that was part of who Dylan was, being direct like that. She was disciplined or at least talked to about it. The other children at this school were enrolled with the understanding that Christina would look after their children’s needs, too. Again, this isn’t perfect, because as you said, if you know one person with Asperbergers, well, you know THAT person and that person only. I think Leslie (and me) were just looking for the part where Christina saying, “I know you were hurt, but you hurt Dylan and this young man too, and that is unacceptable.” That is all. I love both of your hearts. THANKS!!

  6. higdonp@hotmail.com' Lisa Higdon says:

    As a parent of a 13 year old boy with Asperger’s, I can say their is so much more going on than a simple social situation. There are sensory issues which contribute to loads of anxiety about just being out in the world. Add to that the many layers of social interaction and you have someone who is in complete defense mode at all times. My son recently was able to verbalize that he felt like he couldn’t breathe most of the day, especially at school. You have bright lights, loud noises especially in the halls, different temperatures in areas in the school, offensive smells in the cafeteria, etc. We have been to years of behavioral therapies and years of social skill groups as well as groups dealing with social thinking. You can model and practice till the cows come home, but when they are in that defense mode and you add emotional social situations those skills you have practiced do not get transferred to actual behaviors. When the anxiety is lower in the comfort of home, you can discuss different ways to respond to that situation. But that same situation could come up again, and you may get the same outcome because their brain is wired in such a different way. This is just a snapshot of how it is for my son, but I would say it generally applies to many children on the spectrum.

  7. elephantmama@gmail.com' Tina says:

    Mom of a 16yo with Asperger’s here. My kid sometimes acts like a jerk. In fact, he acts like a jerk a lot. Maybe I’m a bad parent because of it, but I know that I’ve done my best with this kid. I simply cannot change his innate makeup. I can’t erase the disability, regardless of how much social skills training I do. He’ll say something like, “Why are you getting so fat? You should be careful what you eat.” He honestly thinks that he’s helping the person by pointing out the problem and giving a solution.

    If I said something like that to him (not that I would ever!), he honestly wouldn’t be insulted. He’d examine my statement from a logical perspective. If he had indeed gained weight, then he’d agree with me and go off to research healthy eating. If he had not gained any weight recently, he’d just tell me that I’m wrong and move on with his life without another thought about it.

    He’s simply incapable of seeing why other people don’t react the way he does. He really does try, but it just befuddles him. He thinks that emotional reactions are illogical and problematic. In fact, he thinks that if more people had Aspergers, there would be less poverty, war, and oppression in the world, since none of those situations are logical. He believes that Aspergers is the next step up on the evolutionary ladder since they are so often very smart, very focused, logical, and not emotional. If you look around the world and see how many of our innovators are on the spectrum, you may begin to think that he has a good point.

    It takes constant talking and training to teach him how to not act like a jerk. He has to be taught social skills from a logical perspective, which is tough when you’re a typical emotional person. He may not ever understand why people react the way they do, but he does have to understand that in order to fit into the world, he has to do his best not to insult people.

    It’s tough and fascinating and enlightening and heartbreaking to be a parent of a kid who is absolutely brilliant in so many ways, but will probably not marry and will never have many friends. He’s been invited to exactly one birthday party in the past 6 years. One. But we’ve also encouraged him to follow his passions and if having an actual social life really isn’t a value for him, then that’s OK too.

    Parenting is tough, no matter how your kid was made. I have 4 kids and they’re all challenging, whether they’re neuro-typical or not. Shoot, at least my kid with Asperger’s is incredibly predictable. . .the other ones surely aren’t! I keep thinking that it will someday get easier, but each year brings new challenges. I thought that nothing could be harder than having a newborn, then having a 3 year old, then struggling through the fifth grade, then puberty, and now that I have a 16yo, it’s still really hard. I honestly think that most of us are doing the best with what we know, even the fictional “us” like on Parenthood . Maybe we should just give each other a break.

    • SweetMidlife says:

      Lynne again.

      Thank you, Tina. I will let Leslie respond as well, as the writer of this post. But everything that I start to write in response falls short, because every example I can think of, be it from my own experience as someone who has been misunderstood, or from the experience of friends who also have Aspergers or have kids who do, or from my experience with kids and adults who I have taught in the life and college readiness program I taught for at a community college, is an attempt to understand on the level that I can, but that isn’t good enough. Because I am not where you are. You are in the trenches, as you said on Facebook. But what I can do is listen. Really listen. And I apologize for not always understanding. I ask for understanding frequently from people who have different experiences then me, and who might not experience things like I do, but who I just want to consider that things are different, and for awareness. And I am humbled, and I am listening. Thanks for telling us where we are wrong in our understanding.

    • josh@etterman.net' Josh says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I think you’re doing a great job with your son. The way that you describe his thoughtful approach to (trying) to understand why other people do not look at the world in the same way shows that he’s a very thoughtful young man – even if he cannot fathom why some would be insulted by some of his social faux pas.

      Honestly, I think your son is absolutely correct – the world would be a better place if more people adopted a rational, logical perspective like your average person on the spectrum. Far too many people get caught up in the nitty gritty details of life. Part of that is just being human – after all, who likes to be told that they are fat? Perhaps another part is that, far too often, the emotionally stunted (and highly insecure) among us are the first to take offense to the benign truth spoken by those of us who are too busy thinking about the “big picture” (such as your son) to worry about little things, such as a small-minded person’s obsession with their waist size.

      I’ll be honest with you – I’m 33 and I was never invited to parties as a kid, either. However, life got a heck of a lot better for me in my last two years of high school and during college. I managed to associate with people with similar interests and priorities and I found that my real friends didn’t care if I said something mildly insulting from time to time – after all, they would do the same thing, too!

      I can’t say that suddenly everything was OK – or that I didn’t have any long-term consequences from being a social outcast for so long. However, I met and began to date the woman who would become my wife during my junior year of college. Got married my senior year and, eight years later, we had our first child. We just welcomed our second child, a daughter, a month ago yesterday.

      We have a very loving, happy and stable relationship. We’ve had our ups and downs, but the great thing about two like-minded people coming together is that I have a wife who doesn’t obsess about minutae and she has a husband who is hyper-focused on everyone’s needs (physical and emotional).

      (An interesting side effect of not totally understanding human behavior is one tends to become a student of human behavior. We pick it apart and try to understand it. Eventually, we learn we will never understand things like NT’s, but we can MODEL the behavior in our minds. It becomes similar to mathematics – Stimulus A + Stimulus B = Reaction C if Reaction C > Constant D then respond with Coping Mechanism E (like chocolate or flowers).

      It sounds crazy, but it really works. Don’t get me wrong – I really love my wife and every woman I’ve had a relationship with – but this just makes it easier for them to see and feel this love in a way that they expect.

      And, as I said, it works. I didn’t have a lot of experience in high school, but college was a LOT of fun…

  8. Lesliegraystreeter@gmail.com' Leslie says:

    Leslie here! I too thank you so much for your input. My aim was not to offend but to express frustration with what to me as an uneven response by Kristina to the issue. But I don’t know what you know and I’m humbled. Thanks for your honest response. It added a lot.

  9. higdonp@hotmail.com' Lisa Higdon says:

    I want to make sure you ladies understand that you did not offend anyone. There is no way to understand unless you are living it 24/7. I responded to give a different perspective, not to say anyone was wrong. My son has helped me to look at other people and their behavior with a more open mind. You never know what is going on in another person’s life.

    • angiehaube@gmail.com' Angie says:

      Amen, Lisa. I also was not offended. And I don’t have the experience as a parent, only as a teacher. I just have a different view. That’s all. I truly am happy to have the conversation, and I admire greatly that you both take on tough topics in a safe, open forum. Thank you for that! 🙂

  10. Humaneteaching@gmail.com' Susan says:

    I have to weigh in. I found this thread because I was deeply disturbed by the way Kristina handled the Max situation during the 11/14 episode. Max violated the rights of another disabled students and, while as a Mom, Kristina had a duty to protect the Max humiliated because of his jealously. yes, jealousy. He likes a girl and she did not reciprocate. As a special educator and a parent, I know it is imperative to discretely teach social skills to students who glean them organically. At no time did she say, I understand how you feel, but societal rules say that you may never behave that way. He needed a consequence for provoking a fight, for bullying a classmate. ASD kiddos are concrete and understand black/white rules once taught. They just do not get the hidden rules of human interaction. Since he cannot help his lack of intuitive social sense, his parents (and educators) owe him that instruction. it is not easy when everything is an object lesson, but pity is poison.

  11. Lesliegraystreeter@gmail.com' Leslie says:

    Susan thanks for your opinion!! That’s what I was trying to say, that Kristina owes her other students the same consideration as her son.

  12. michele.schuller@comcast.net' Michele says:

    One of the most frustrating things about this is that Kristina never uses data about Asperger’s, the law, IEP’s or anything to argue her point, but says “I feel that it’s not right.” She is completely unqualified to run a charter school for kids with special needs and it’s ridiculous and offensive to educators like myself (I also have a son with Aspergers) to have a character like this with of knowledge about education, autism and how to run a school.
    This is really poor, lazy writing. What’s interesting is that I called this the privileged white people show the first season, the second, third and fourth were great, and the fifth and sixth went off the rails.

    • SweetMidlife says:

      It is stunning, isn’t it, how right the show is about some things, and in other ways, doesn’t seem to back up its own logic?

      • josh@etterman.net' Josh says:

        You’re absolutely right about the show’s content. They do an excellent job with the behavioral elements but fall flat on the legal and educational issues that parents face. Of course, I’m sure that the writers realized that most parents find IEP meetings and re-evaluations to be something akin to torture. I really can’t say that I miss watching a dramatized version on TV. But they should at least attempt to maintain some “real world” credibility in the show – if for no other reason than the respect it would show real-world parents for studiously addressing such issues on a daily basis.

        Yeah, we often respond to issues using our “gut feelings” but those gut instincts are backed up by the thousands of pages of research we read or the dozens of books we’ve bought or the scores of with whom we have consulted.

        No, I didn’t need to cite the case law when pushing for full-day kindergarten (split between autism support and a NT classroom); but I knew that it was a legitimate option at our public school district because I read a brief on the state supreme court case (which, oddly enough, featured our school district as the defendant). However, I can’t say that my “strongly worded letters” make for great T.V. Heck, they don’t even make for compelling reading!

        Also, does anyone else find it insulting that the Braverman’s take a “victim’s mentality” toward Max’s diagnosis? With the discussion of every new facet of Max’s personality, there is some issue that they face that, invariably, result in Kristina (or Kristina and Adam) reacting with wide, doe-eyed, slack-jawed expressions or killing a box of Kleenex while sobbing “Why Me?!?!”

        Please. We all had our grieving period when our child was first diagnosed, but we got over it and learned to embrace the “unknown” future we faced with our children. Yeah, it can be a little frightening, but it makes every little step our kids make seem all the more special because we know just how PROFOUND even the smallest and simplest accomplishments can be over the course of our child’s life!

        As parents who thought our son might never talk – we didn’t fall apart tonight because our son used some profanity. Honestly, a little part of me cheered at his risque phrasing! I didn’t yell and scream at him, either. I just said – “Now, you know you’re not supposed to say things like that, right? And you know that, no matter what, you NEVER use that kind of language at school or with your teachers, right?”

        When he looked at me, smirked and said “No Sh$t” I didn’t yell at him. In fact, I kinda joined in, cautioning him but also acknowledging his rather sophisticated use of profanity for a six-year-old:

        “Good to hear, Smart A$$.”

  13. josh@etterman.net' Josh says:

    I am so relieved to see that someone else has expressed many of the same concerns I’ve had regarding the character of Kristina Braverman. As the parent of a child with classical autism (severely limited language skills – partly non-verbal and significant intellectual development issues), the lack of real parenting exhibited by the Braverman parents is sickening. Specifically, their compulsion to blame all of Max’s behavioral issues (even run of the mill idiosyncrasies independent of the ASD diagnosis) on his Dx, their complete inability to have Max “own” his Dx and incorporate his disparate abilities into his life and, perhaps most importantly, complete and total failure to develop any semblance of a behavioral health management plan (What was Gaby anyway? The world’s most overpaid and improperly monitored TSS? Surely she wasn’t a BSC with such thin-skinned incompetence! It was like she was making it up as she went along!)

    Frankly, Max would have been better served by his family remaining ignorant of his placement on The Spectrum and treating him as a neurotypical child with oppositional defiant disorder, an antisocial pathology and a collection of quaint idiosyncrasies. Instead, they’ve used his Dx as a “get out of jail free card”.

    Is Max being a self-absorbed brat? Blame it on the Asperger’s.

    Does Max have a (totally reasonable and legitimate) fear of flame and haunted houses? Blame it on the Asperger’s.

    Does Max’s existing pathology coupled with his very limited development of social skills (despite, ostensibly, the implementation of a behavior plan and use of wrap-around services) strongly suggest a more pronounced diagnosis of (mild) classic autism? Double check…

    OK, that last one isn’t exactly fair. We can really only expect so much progress with Max because of the fact that for the majority of the show his primary caregiver and behavioral support therapist was Kristina. Why does this limit him? Because, as it became painfully obvious to me on re-watching the first two seasons, Kristina would likely be considered to be on The Spectrum herself!

    If Kristina was aware of her ASD status (and had the introspection and self awareness) she would be able to coach Max to grow and deal with his diagnosis. Instead, she remains blithely unaware that her antisocial behaviors coupled with a single-digit EQ make her the world’s worst caregiver to a child on The Spectrum.

    Adam has significantly stronger social skills, a fairly high EQ and well developed empathy and a strong understanding of emotional and moral relativism. He’s an excellent father for a child on The Spectrum but for one or two issues. Unfortunately, the biggest issue is Max’s other caregiver – Kristina. Simply, Adam is so accepting of Kristina’s controlling and manipulative behaviors that he lacks the intestinal fortitude to stand up for his opinons and beliefs. He has lots of great ideas but always submits to Kristina’s heavy-handed and emotionally-stunted perspective. The (far too frequent) times when Adam makes (typically sexist) errors in handling Max – or totally forgetting key elements of his behavioral pathology – make him appear incompetent at times, but his earnest incompetence is nothing compared to Kristina’s malevolent sociopathy. If Kristina got hit by a bus at the end of Season 1 (or at nearly any time in the series) the kids would end up leading happier, healthier lives with Adam as a single dad.

    I’m sure some will be offended by my harsh handling of Kristina’s character, but she doesn’t do anyone (parents or children affected by ASD) any good. She’s a horrible role model for everyone and, frankly, I’m a bit saddened to think that some people are developing their perceptions of the parents of children on The Spectrum based upon Kristina Braverman… I just hope and pray that I’m doing a good enough job with my son that is immediately apparent that his dad (and mom) are competent people. Therefore they are nothing like the parents in Parenthood!

  14. watkins.lindbergh@yahoo.com' Lindbergh Watkins Jr says:

    So I just started watching this show. And it’s so good to see that other people actually agreed with me that max is a spoiled brat. They make excuses for his syndrome and never give him any discipline. it literally makes u hate the character and that’s unfortunate because he is not the face of asperger’s. I feel the show should be called “children raising parents”. All of the parents on this show literally let there children rule. Julia and her spoiled ass daughter, Sarah and her spoiled kids that run over her but the worst is Kristina and Adam. Smh. There is no way with children like theres I wouldn’t have had to put my hands on them. I just need a week with them and they will be totally different. and I’m not saying that parents should or shouldn’t spank there child but if you arent going to punish them at all how in the hell are they going to be able to go through life? They will grow up to be just like there parents. all of the parents expect to get everything in life and dont know the meaning of no. I like the show but I find myself each episode annoyed by there parenting and by how the parents act themselves. but max is by far the character that I like the least. I literally despise how they made his character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge
Scrappy Theme by Caroline Moore | Copyright 2020 The Sweet Midlife | Powered by WordPress