I got an email the other day from a reader who wanted to engage me in a dialog about why I seemed so reluctant to medicate my daughter, or to try increasing her dosage. As an adult with ADHD who was currently under medication, he was coming from the position that medication was more or less another tool to give someone a shot at normal function. So, why would I be hesitating?
And I tried to give him a cogent reply. Part of the reason is medical. Some of these drugs are highly active and can cause surprising side effects. But a big part of the reason is psychological. There’s a huge bias against parents who drug their kids. The assumption is that we drug our children to compensate for a failure in our parenting — not enough patience, unreasonable expectations, etc. It’s hard to explain, and hard to define, the pressures involved.
And then I saw this cartoon today:
I can provide no better example of exactly why I’m so nervous about giving my kid ADHD medication. That is the accusation that faces me. That to make my own life easier, I’m willing to destroy a vibrant and imaginative personality. But at least the resulting automaton will get their homework done on time.
Anyone who doubts why I medicate my ADHD child can spend a morning with her sans meds. I don’t get any flack from anyone who knows us.
Among other things, I was convinced we were doing the right thing when, after a couple weeks on meds, she came to me and expressed her first anger over us taking her away from her foster parents. This is FIVE YEARS later. She could never process her feelings on that before.
It also made the difference between reading and not reading. That in itself is worth it to me.
I don’t envy your decision at all. I’m sure it is harder that most things I have done. But, the cartoon made me shed a tear. I feel for you and the Mrs.