Home > Awareness > Parenthood – “A House Divided”

Parenthood – “A House Divided”

On this week’s episode, “A House Divided,” of Parenthood, Zeek takes Max on a camping trip; it’s a Braverman family tradition.While Adam and Kristina are nervous that Max being outside of his normal environment will lead to an unsuccessful trip. They provide a manual for Zeek, but he is extremely offended; he can camp with his own grandson.

Out in the wild, Zeek and Max arrive at the campsite. Zeek asks for Max’s help setting up the tent, but can’t get his attention or help. Zeek tells Max stories about his camping trips with the other Braverman men. When Max asks if they have done everything they were suppose to do, why can’t they go home? When Max doesn’t like Zeek’s answer, he has a full meltdown and Zeek doesn’t know what to do.

While at Julia’s, Zeek calls Adam for help with Max. Adam asks to talk to Max immediately. Zeek confesses to not reading the instruction manual that Kristina provided. Adam lays it on Max and gives him a choice. He can come home, but if he does he’ll miss out on something really special. Ultimately the decision is Max’s to make. When Max tells Zeek they can stay, Zeek is amazed. Adam and Kristina wait at Zeek and Camille’s for their arrival the following morning to welcome them home with open arms. Zeek has a touching moment with Adam tells him what a wonderful boy Max is.

How do you cope when your family doesn’t understand you or your child’s struggles?


Watch the full episode of Parenthood here

  1. Debbie Gillispie
    February 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

    As parent who has a normal daughter and an autistic son I learned a long time ago to pick my battles. I don’t like the theme of dissing Mattie’s friend. It makes them seem too good for real people. I think the part of Max is great it really hits home. my son Devin is 24 now and we have been through a lot of the same issues. Keep up the good work

  2. February 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I have had a hard time coping with family members. I have 2 children diagnosed on the spectrum and my oldest is being evaluated for Aspergers currently. None of our family members understand that everything we do has a reason and purpose behind it. They think any interruption is acceptable and that we can just go with the flow. They wonder why I won’t let the kids stay up after bedtime on special occasions or why my youngest who is GFCF can’t eat regular cake on his birthday! Even if I made a GFCF cake he wouldn’t eat it to begin with! (He won’t eat anything unless it is dry and crunchy…) They think I am over-reacting and treat me like I’m a bad parent for making sure everything runs smoothly. They think I spoil my kids because I only buy one type of chicken nuggets because that is the only shape and brand they will eat. There are things my kids have to do because I say they have too, but I don’t force them on every issue. They don’t like to clean up their toys but I make them otherwise the toys they don’t pick up are “grounded” for a day. I have structure and routine in my house up to my eyeballs and most of the family doesn’t understand. I have tried to explain it to them and I would love to show them more of why I do what I do but they live 3 states away and only visit for a week once or twice a year. They don’t see it on a day to day basis and I am finding it difficult to cope with their lack of empathy and understanding. It is so bad that I asked for help with my youngest who is 2 1/2 and non-verbal. I am starting the PECS program and asked everyone to send me a bust picture of themselves so I could print them off and use them to teach him about family members so when they visit he would know who they are. I put out the request on facebook rather than calling each person. All of them started putting snide comments like “did you say butt picture?” and “I charge for pictures of me naked” and such. Not a single family member sent pictures. My husband is one of 7…not a single picture. If they would have made the jokes and sent the picture anyway I would have laughed along with them but this is a slap in my face. Hopefully I can read how others have coped and maybe it will help. Sorry for the rant!!!

    • Lydia
      February 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      Crystal: I too have relatives who live three states away and just don’t get it. My brother actually called me when he heard about my son being diagnosed and said ‘he cant be, they just want to label everyone.’ And my brother hasn’t called me in years. It hurt my feelings a lot because my husband and I sought out help when he was almost three. He is high functioning and only the family members who really have seen him at his worse give us credit just like on the show!
      I just wanted to say I feel your pain, I really do. It hurt me to read your post because I feel the same way and for lack of better term it sucks! and dont we have enough on our plate?
      It sounds like your husband is supportive, and it sounds like you’re a great mom who is involved and your children are very lucky. I don’t know if there’s any way we can educate people who don’t want to be educated. I tell people I am just trying to do the best and share articles and such with them. They may think I’m being pushy but I don’t care.

    • Monica Pickard
      February 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      I feel bad for you since your family doesn’t seem to understand the reasons for the things you do for your kids. The reality is that you can’t control how your family feels and acts, so you just have to accept it and keep doing what you do. Don’t let anyone’s judgement impact your vision for your family. It sounds like you are doing a great job staying on track even if you only have support from your husband. Be grateful for that, as I’m sure your are, and keep up the great work you are doing! You said you’ve tried to expalin to them, but they just don’t ‘get it’ so whenever they say something ignorant just let it go and don’t respond. Karma will eventually take care of it and help to get them educated. In the mean time, maybe you could find an autism / aspergers support group in your area for emotional support. Good luck and take care!

    • Hilde
      February 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

      My heart breaks at the insensitivity of your relatives. We had similar issues in the beginning. Our child was bright, high-functioning and had a huge vocabulary. So, every time he had sensory issues or a meltdown, all fingers pointed at us (bad parents) and him (unruly child). In the end, we decided that we should spend less time and effort trying to educate others. Instead, we focused on finding strategies that worked, regardless of the sneers of ignorant “others”. It has been 15 years, but he is finally accepted by one and all. Spend your time with those who will understand your struggles and appreciate your child, perhaps others local families with kids in the spectrum.
      May I suggest a great book that has recently come out? It is called Finding the Gray by Dr Timothy Wahlberg. I am slowly buying copies to share with extended family and friends. He explains how the ASD brain thinks in a way that anyone can understand.
      The best advice I can offer is to trust your own instincts. I laughed to myself at your description of the attitudes of those who simply have no idea about why you endeavor to maintain structure for your family. Even now, I have other moms of ASD kids tell me I am “too strict”. A specialist told me that, in his opinion, LESS THAN 10 PERCENT of parents establish and follow the routines that will make life more manageable for their kids and help them succeed in the future. Why? It is too much work. Amazing.
      Though I understand your desire for more support from family, it cannot be forced. Think about it, those who do not live your life cannot comprehend. If we did not have our child, we would still be in the dark, too.
      You are on the right track. It is a long journey. Your children are fortunate to have such a strong, loving advocate. Do not despair. Never give up. Bless you!

  3. February 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    This was an awesome episode with Max. I started crying when Zeek acknowledged that dealing with Max was harder than he thought. People just do not get it, unless you deal with a child like this everyday no one could understand. Love this show!

  4. Suzanne Lanthier
    February 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I thought this episode, like many others really hit the nail on the head. This series should be “must see TV” for all families. The answers to the “how to’s” are not easy and for sure are not a one-size-fits-all depending on the challenges each child faces at any one particular time. I am lucky to have a family who ‘gets it’ most of the time. My most recent challenge was having my Dad present me with 2 tickets to an upcoming Thomas the Train Live show. He bought tickets for all his grandchildren to go – I opened them and looked at him and said “Dad, you shouldn’t have spend the money – he may not be able to do it” My Dad replied back with “Let’s try .. even if its for 30 seconds, at least we can try”. So with headphones some transitioning social story preparation, we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

    • Monica Pickard
      February 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

      I think it is great that your Dad wants to include your son even if it will be a challenge! I hope it works out for you all and you have a great experience, even if it doesn’t go perfectly!

  5. John M
    February 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    It is a continual struggle. My son has relatives that like to good naturedly kind of tease or kid him. Other non-autistic kids might pick up that it is supposed to be taken in fun. I try to explain that my son may or may not perceive it the way it is intended. They often get offended when he says something that they think might be rude or disrespectful after he indicates he doesn’t like what is going on. I have just explained to friends and relatives that if he ask you to “stop” or “leave him alone” respect his wishes. It hurts feelings, but ultimately if you don’t understand my son just leave him alone.

  6. Les
    February 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Oh boy! Did I ever need to see this show. It really reinforced my belief that I am doing my job as a parent of two children on the spectrum. I am so appreciative of the writers, produceres and actors of this show. Reinforcement and recognition of the challenges we cannot ignore with our childrens welfare and those in their lives that impact each day. The dreaded meltdown….that is a daily occurrence. Right now I have had to pull both my kids out of a 13 hr. all day fieldtrip to the coast where you get the kids up by 5 a.m., at school and on the bus by 6:30 and they don’t return back until 7:30 p.m. On top of that they have to be back at school the next day. This is way too much for my kids so now we have explained to them that we will have a family trip. They fortunately understand, it’s just why can they not offer an alternative modified trip for special needs children who are
    not able to handle these marathon field trips? I really applaud the show and all the parents that have to intervene when these issues come up. Thank you!

  7. Douglas
    February 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

    just wanted to give you all a blessing for taking the time to post. My son Travis is 12yrs and doing well. To be able to read about others going down the same path is some how comforting. To see Adam get on the phone with Max and settle him down by conecting with his son in his world was almost to much for me. Unless you have a child on the spectrum you will never understand not only what we go through as parents but what they go through in there own world.

  8. Monica Pickard
    February 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I absolutely LOVE THIS SHOW! I was prepared to be disappointed when I watched the pilot and realized there was a character with aspergers, but this team of writers, directors, producers and actors are excellent in their portayal of this complex syndrome! As someone said in a previous post, it is must see tv! Especailly if you have a family member on the spectrum and want to understand what they and the rest of the family is dealing with.

  9. Sarah
    February 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    You mean the mother-in-law who told me that I was making it all up re: my older child being on spectrum? In her words, “I know autism and THIS is not autism.”

    So, not so dreamy here.

    Luckily, my parents are lovely, supportive and do their homework. Sadly, that set of grandparents lives far, far away.

    • Sarah
      February 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      I am so tired of people saying, “He’s just being a boy.” They have NO idea how completely overwhelmed he is on a regular basis. I get tired of family members thinking they know more than his psychologist, special ed teachers, and parents. My MIL changes the subject any time it comes up. She doesn’t want to hear about it and doesn’t want to think about it. She will attempt to interact with my son when he is there, but never takes care of him by herself (I have to mention he is high functioning). Luckily, my parents are also great. My mom especially has really taken the initiative to learn more about autism and tries to help him.
      Good luck to you, Sarah!

      And I, too, LOVE this show!!

  10. Lynne
    February 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve come to the sad realization that family members choose to be involved or not.
    Their loss.

  11. gollyanne lynch
    February 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Bravo! i was diagnosed only @ a dozen+ years ago and being nearly 69 (yes: sixty-nine) i really long for the KIND (of) support Max gets from his family (mom, dad, sister – my mom has Alzheimer’s, my second-dad couldn’t stand mom and me at last being able to enJOY each other in such simple ways when he had lost her as the companion he’s always known, and my sis came to mind with Lynne’s comment: “I’ve come to the sad realization that family members choose to be involved or not. Their loss.”)

    Every mention of Max is always breath-taking for me, but last night when y’all showed that “magic manual” of how Max ticks, i can’t tell you how MUCH i wanted to grab that orange notebook and read every word to help me understand me! (a moment later i realized that, of course, since it’s all just a story, there really isn’t any “book” about Max – just a believable prop…sigh…but i am glad there are folks out there who do take tender loving and tough-loving care of us perpetual “kids” on the spectrum.

    May the Lord Jesus Whom i came to know and be Known by only the year before being diagnosed (and yes, what a Support HE has been – or i’d have gone under in despair repeatedly without His reAssurances and Guidance, God-Dancing with me in2 each next Step He beckons Us to take) may He BE loving Strength and Strengthening Love to each and ALL of you who are touched in any Way by autism.

    ~ Gollyanne @ JfurGollyandme@gmail.com AKA Jesus’n’me = Him and/in me!
    (y’all – i used to be a Texan! – really COULD write me back…if you want to – (whisper) i’d love that!

  12. gollyanne lynch
    February 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    oh, and i forgot (as usual, always forgetting something or other vital!) ~ yes, please, i would like to subscribe to this site by email, so i’m posting this bit to say so! gollyanne/J’n’me

  13. Lee
    February 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I am currently dealing with this with my mother. We ahve always been close but she refueses to admit that my son has Aspergers and does not support us. I have not spoken with her in 2 weeks. I have no idea what to do. I have tried educating her but she doesn’t want to hear it. Any suggesions?

    • Monica Pickard
      February 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Wow, that’s a tough one, since she does not even admit that he has aspergers. I don’t know how long your son has had a diagnosis, but if it has only been a short period of time, I would say that your mom needs time to let it sink in. She may be at the stage where she is trying to wish it away. Many people go through this, especially when they don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis. Maybe as time goes on you can try to subtly point things out to her that are different about your son and it will eventually sink in to her that he has it.

      My son is austic and completely nonverbal. He is 22 years old now, but up until he was well into his teens my mother would ask me when I thought he might start talking. I had long since given up on that idea and it stunned me every time she asked. I think after telling her, each time, that he will most likely never speak, but that we will keep trying to get communication from him any way we can, and that we will have to accept signing and picture communication as his way of communicating, she finnaly got it. People just don’t want to let go of hope.

      When my son was little I tried many “cures” for him. It wasn’t until I met someone whose son has down syndrome and watched her total acceptance of him, just the way he is, that I realized I son’t have to fix my son. Therapies and diets are wonderful and should be tried, but the bottom line is that you have to accept your situation in order to get peace.

      I’m not a doctor, but I do have years of experience with my own situation. So just keep talking with her and maybe ask her how she feels about everything – the aspergers, the therapies and anything else you are doing for your son – then maybe you’ll have a better idea where she is coming from and you can go from there. You can also share with her ways that she can help you if she wants to, but let her know you understand that this is hard on her too. I hope this helps. Monica

    • Grapes
      February 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Ignorance is a choice after a certain point and sometimes no amount of logic will convince anyone otherwise. I hope things improve for you.

  14. Nicki
    February 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I have three sons with autism. I have to say I’m very blessed to have the family I do. The whole family has worked with the disabled population for years, so when the boys were diagnosed we had the support of the whole family. I does get very difficult to explain to other people why we do the things we do. Some people look at me like I’m mean. I’m not mean i just know what works for my kids and what doesn’t.

  15. Jan
    February 5, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I did not watch this episode of Parenthood, as I do not watch the show at all. This is primarily due to the fact that this fictional family and its (for the most part) warm support of the member with autism and his parents is so far from my cold hard reality. We have two children with Asperger’s diagnosis. My mother died prior to diagnosis (when the children were 26 months and four months old). Would she have been supportive? Who knows? She and my father were “summer professionals” at the Orthogenic School at Chicago 50 years ago. Shortly before my father’s death, he told me that because my daughter was obviously autistic, she should be removed from my care. What about my siblings, you may wonder. My older sister has informed me that she “hates” people with Asperger’s, and we can spend time together without my beloved children (joy!). My younger sister says that I just want attention, and that there is nothing wrong with my children.

    My in-laws are not very welcoming either. My mother-in-law has informed me that “it” is my fault, because I drank coca-cola while pregnant. (“It” is never given a name in that house). We have been rescheduled 3 times in the last year in our visit to Grandma, because she would so much rather see her other grandchildren. (This has been openly told to us). They scold me continuously about being so wasteful with our money, never mind that we have spent it on vision therapy, OT, Tomatis, music therapy/lessons, dance therapy, tutors, social skills groups, psychologists, medicines, telephone with tracking device, and skilled child care(off the top of my head). (Granted it has been tens of thousands of dollars). Because we spend our money so “unwisely,” we were not given the big gifts that my husband’s siblings’ families were, such as huge wooden swing sets and help with college expenses.

    My life is much more brutal than Parenthood portrays. I am not asking for a warm accepting family dinner, a smile would do!

    • Grapes
      February 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Your family doesn’t sound the least bit likable. My mother is deceased, but she had Munchausen by Proxy in regards to me and she tried beating her “brain damaged” daughter into normalcy. I didn’t magically become normal. I developed PTSD and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. At 44, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s and my twin toddlers are also somewhere on the spectrum. My father alternates between refusing to believe there is autism in any members of his family at all and insisting I was selfish for reproducing when I knew beforehand of my status as a “damaged” human being. My father does not see the twins or their siblings, though he tries bribery for some motive I’m unaware of.

      My siblings, at least, are kinder than yours. So are my in-laws, though my children know no grandparents as my husband was raised by a single mother who passed away. I would not spend time with your sister if I were you. She is blatantly ableist. Your mother-in-law says disgusting things and resorts to old methods of blame, and your in-laws’ lack of general support is also ableist.

      I like Parenthood and I like spending time with families who do have more pleasant home lives than me, and I like spending time with families who do not. It doesn’t really matter to me. Any common thread is better than none, in my opinion, and it has always been nigh impossible for me to find MANY common threads with most people.

    • Monica Pickard
      February 6, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Jan, my heart goes out to you for what you go through with your family. It is hard enough living your life without all that negativity. I believe that our lives are full of lessons and that your family can learn a lot from your kids. It sounds like they need to learn a lot! Unfortunately, they may not learn anything. As I said to someone in an earlier post, just don’t react to the negativity. All it will do is create stress for you. One more piece of advice, find a support group if you don’t already have one. It will make a huge difference in you life. If you can’t, or really don’t want to join a group you can watch this show and get support and validation from there. I can’t tell you how much validation I have received from this show and it has made me see that I should have joined a group years ago. There is support out there, even if your family won’t give it to you. Take care and good luck!

  16. Heather
    February 5, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I am lucky in that all my family loves and supports anything that has to do with my 9 yr old daughter ASD/PDD Autism. It can be hard at times for them to understand at times some difficulties , but they never had judged , ignored , or reacted unfavorable towards anything just because they don’t fully understand this disability. Honestly its used to be the public that was unfavorable. In the begining it was hard , but now (past 7 years)I see alot more people seam to be more aware and accepting/understanding. There is MORE education/awareness about it. And if not , well then I use my “own words” which has happened on occasion , after i do usually have an apology as a reaction to that. ALWAYS BE PROUD OF YOUR CHILD! GOD MADE HIM/HER EXACTLY THE WAY HE WANTED THEM TO BE. God bless n Good Luck! <3

  17. Grapes
    February 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Unfortunately, I tend to cope by avoidance. “Lack of empathy” is most certainly something that comes around full-circle. If you have a sympathetic family, be very thankful.

  18. Mike
    February 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    My wife & I are also among the many whose families just “don’t get it”. Our daughter is 19 with HFA; my mother still lectures me on how we should be raising our daughter, about how we do not have the right parenting skills. She’s right…we don’t have parenting skills for raising a child on the Autism Spectrum. At times, our daughter is a handful for two of us, but we just take it one day at a time. My wife retired some years ago to be a stay-at-home Mom. She recently returned from a 9-night cruise; for nine days I had to be Mom & Dad. For five days a week, my respite is that I get to go to work. We know that we are not the only parents out there in our situation; we have joined different parent groups, go to various lectures & seminars, we’re always on the lookout for different resources. We hope in time that our daughter will be able to lead a more independent life, but for now, we’re it.

  19. Courtnee
    April 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Well I have a grandma that sees my son on a regular basis and thinks my sons lack of interest in certain activities comes from me not pushing him to try it. My son is not a very outdoors kind of person he likes his video games and his lego sets. She will buy him skate shoes and get mad when he refuses to wear them or skate and often tries to compair him to her neighbor’s grandson who lives a couple doors down. She often tries to construct activities she thinks we should attend cause that is what other kids his age would go and do, but he gets overwhelmed by large crowds and lots of loud noises, not to mention he doesn’t know how to really particpate accordingly in some activities. My mom gets it so she never pushes and always chooses activities they can enjoy together. Well my grandma got upset with my mom telling her she was a bad nana cause she said she wouldn’t take my son easter egg hunting in a park that draws large crowds. I have talked to her a lot about his differences and it being a social disorder among many other things and she just doesn’t get it and she has had 9 years to grasp it but hasn’t.

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