Blaming parents in infant psychiatry
The first three articles in the special issue on mental health in early childhood, those by Foreman, Koren-Karie and by Benhamou, represent a big step backward in my opinion. When first adult psychiatry and somewhat later child psychiatry have begun to free themselves of blaming parents and parenting for psychiatric ills, here are three articles again blaming the "main caretaker." Longitudinal studies showing the parenting from the beginning, before the child's unresponsiveness or bizarre responsiveness develops, and how parenting changes in response to the child's behavior might show that cause and effect have been confused by these researchers. Not only do the parents suffer because of their child's illness, but they are blamed, possibly by the frustration caused by their inability to help the child.
Judith Ronat, MD
Alcalay 9, Rehovot 78394
Reply from Dr. DM Foreman
I was surprised to read that Dr. Ronat considers my paper "a big step backwards." I entirely agree with her that the influence of children on maternal mental health requires careful consideration, and have in fact written about this at some length elsewhere (1). I also agree that parents with psychiatric disorders should not be blamed for differences or difficulties in their offspring identified in the research literature. …