The Facebook Post by (my sweet friend ) L.J.:
“Recently I had a 30 min energy work session with a 9 year old diagnosed with ADHD. His mom just wrote me and said he reported better concentration for several days and is ready to see me again. We are going to try once a week for a bit and see how he does.”
Steve G.’s (person I don’t know) Facebook Comment:
“adhd is really adip- american deficiency in parenting… cudos to your client for recognizing her son’s potential and not succumbing to the easy way out. and kudos for her REAL parenting skills; no deficiency here!”
My (admittedly defensive) Facebook Comment:
“My 7-year-old son has ADHD and the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old combined with a highly-gifted IQ, which gives us the interesting dilemma of a brain that needs to stay constantly challenged, yet is hard to challenge (he was a 1st grader reading at a 6th grade level last year, for example), coupled with excessive energy that no amount of exercise can seem to burn off. He has been like this since he thrashed around constantly in utero (he gave me a hiatal hernia!), since he was an infant who didn’t sleep through the night until 9 months, and when he gave up napping at 18 months.
My son has always been wired this way, and it has nothing to do with my parenting, although I’ve been judged unfairly and ostracized by plenty of clueless, mean, and apparently perfect people from day one. (Which always helps stressed-out, anxious, exhausted parents do a better job. Thank you for your kindness and understanding, humanity.) (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)
We limit him to 1 hour of screen time a day, give him no food dyes, no excess sugar, no HFCS or processed foods, plenty of fruits, vegetables, smoothies and fresh juice (his favorite juice is carrot-spinach with a little apple), and our parenting style is disciplined, present, loving, consistent, etc.
We are not young parents (40s) and he is our only child, and while his active brain and body make him exhausting to be around sometimes because we are older and have much less energy, I consider his ADHD energy a gift he will appreciate when he is an energetic and enigmatic go-getter of an adult. He is already all leader and no follower, and I *love* his brain, and his joyful spirit. We appreciate the bright light that our son is to the world and never, ever want to turn it off.
So I bristle at ignorant, hurtful comments like the one made by Steve G. above, that ADHD is a “parenting deficiency” or that by choosing to try medication in addition to everything else we’ve tried, we’re taking the “easy way out.” Because there is no easy way out. They’re not magic pills. Our son will still have to work on his impulse control issues regardless of whether the medication helps him or not. And because sometimes you can be doing everything “right” and they still have an ADHD-type brain. My biological father (<—lifelong healthy eater and vegetarian, BTW) and I also have the same type of brain, so I know where my son got it… and the parenting of my parents had nothing to do with it either. It’s very obviously hereditary.
ADHD is a differently-wired human brain, according to thousands of intelligent scientists and doctors without pharmaceutical agendas who’ve actually studied human physiology. So while I’m not denying that there may be people in the world medicating their ADHD or otherwise atypically-brained children for their own convenience, please don’t make the ridiculously stupid assumption that all parents who choose to medicate are “deficient” or otherwise lacking. Because sometimes the parents you’re so harshly and inaccurately judging as “deficient” are intelligent people who have done and continue to do everything they possibly can to help their child not get in trouble every day at school for being disruptive because the part of his brain that controls impulses (the “brain brakes” if you will) is not as mature yet as the other parts.
We have tried a dairy and gluten-free diet for him as well, with no effect whatsoever on his impulse control. We give him daily probiotic and Omega-3 supplements. We had him in behavioral therapy all last year to try to help him control his impulsive behavior without medication, to no avail. If we lived anywhere near L.J., we would already be trying energy work, but we live in a small Oklahoma town where I am mocked for not wanting to eat meat and nobody knows what “juicing” means beyond taking steroids, so I’m out of luck in that department.
We are meeting with a psychiatrist to try medication in a few weeks ONLY because we are out of options and his inability to control his impulses has been seriously affecting his self-esteem for a year. Because he got in trouble every single day for his ADHD behavior last year (class clown stuff: dancing, getting out of his seat, talking out of turn, nothing malicious- he’s a sweet, friend-to-all outgoing little guy), my son started not wanting to go to school for the first time ever, even though he is a classic extrovert who loves being around other kids. He started referring to himself as a “troublemaker” and a “bad kid.” When we had his IQ tested this summer, during the vocabulary section, when asked to define “pest” he answered, “Miles C—–.” His own name. I cried when the psychiatrist told my husband and me that.
This low self-esteem is what being brain-wired differently and getting in constant trouble for it is doing to my son, and is the only reason I am considering medication to help pump up the impulse control side of his brain; NOT because I am a “deficient” parent. I would die for my son without a second thought, and I tell him I love him and that he is a good person with a good, kind heart every day of his life. But I can’t control what teachers and other adults in his life do to his self-esteem when I’m not around. Homeschooling is not an option because he thrives on human interaction, loves his friends and school, and I am a shy, classic introvert who is drained by social interaction, which would render me worthless as a mother to him every day, or else I would try that rather than medicate.
If you want to judge me and call me a “deficient parent” because I’m trying to help my son feel better about himself by increasing his self-control and success in school, then go ahead and throw those rocks through your glass windows. Throw a few for me, too, while you’re at it, because I would now label anyone calling me a “deficient parent” as “empathy-deficient” and “ignorant.”
And maybe we can all stop generalizing about parents when we know absolutely nothing about their personal lives, genetic history, children, parenting skills, or their exhausting, stressful, constantly-worried-about-their-child daily reality. Everybody is different and what works for one person might not work for another… and that’s okay. Because there is no “normal,” and that’s okay, too.”
So… this is what happens when I scroll through my Facebook feed before I start my daily writing, you guys.
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut because I’m so f-ing tired of being judged as a bad parent because my son is wired differently. He can’t help it. We never let him use it as an excuse for poor behavior, and tell him that no matter what, he is never allowed to stop trying, but people with multiple degrees in child psychology and doctors have confirmed that he has the maturity and impulse control of a child 2-3 years younger than his actual age. He really can’t help it. IT’S NOT AN EXCUSE.
(He has even been ostracized/bullied by an entire group of neighborhood kids because of these brain differences beyond his control, and those parents who encouraged their children to openly call him a “bad influence” and be mean to him should be ashamed of themselves.)
I’m also tired of people with typically-brained kids assuming they have any clue what it’s like to have an atypically-brained kid, and/or that they have the answers to “fix” my son.
Because 1.) I am woman of gifted intelligence levels who does nothing but research and look for answers and ways to help my child… do you really think I haven’t tried EVERYTHING, folks?
And because 2.) If anyone did really have the magical miracle cure that makes the way children’s ADHD brains are wired suddenly switch to what our society has labeled as “normal,” they’d be a freaking millionaire.
And because 3.) You have no idea who my son is or how to help him because all humans are different. It reminds me of when his preschool teacher smugly told me, after I told her my 3-year-old stopped napping before 2, “Oh, I’ll get him to nap.” I laughed on the inside, because again, do you think I haven’t tried EVERYTHING, lady? How STUPID does everybody in this world think I am?
And guess what… surprise! The Nap Master couldn’t get him to nap either. The rest of the kids slept while my differently-brained child read books and played in the next room. (And then I once again laughed on the inside. Because, see? I TOLD YOU SO.)
Anyhow. I think I’m going to take September off Facebook. Too many people make me feel sad inside.
Do better, people. Be kinder. Please. You’re breaking my heart.