* Eating Crow

I happened upon a really amazing parenting story yesterday via finslippy, and I am seriously humbled. To sum it up, it is one mother's account of her decision to put her son on Ritalin. And I applaud her wholeheartedly. But you really should read her whole story, because it's extremely honest and well-written and dammit, it made me cry.

Which makes me realize that I need to be aware of my prejudices and more careful about my judgments. Although I'm still not convinced that Hercules would be better off with Ritalin, that doesn't mean that there aren't children out there who have benefitted from meds, and many parents are experiencing a whole new level of joy in parenting because of it.

And now there's this nagging voice inside of me that is wondering if I am denying my son the benefits of a normal life by not considering medication. It's a shadow of a doubt, but it's there. When I look at all the progress that he's made without meds, I am encouraged. Then again, our struggles are far from over. In spite of all our coaching and therapy, the one thing that has not diminished whatsoever is Rio's absolute lack of impulse control. None. Zero. Zilch. That is why taking him to the grocery store is such a harrowing ordeal. Or why I would rather miss out on various social functions and local events than to try and bring Hercules along. Because it's just not worth the aggravation. And yes, I'm sorry to say that I do harbor some resentment for that and no, I'm not proud of it. And can I just say that I'm very, very tired of people telling me, Sure, just bring him along! There'll be other kids there! It's not a big deal! And then they are so, so sorry they ever said that. Because Hercules is just not like those other calm, cooperative, well-behaved children. And I really don't need another reason to feel like the worst parent in the room. And dammit, I'm crying all over again!

It seems that second-guessing goes hand-in-hand with motherhood. My objection to meds is that first, I suspect that ADD/ADHD are over-diagnosed and used as a crutch for lazy parents, overworked teachers, and pharmophile doctors (yes, I just made that word up). Second, I wonder if medicating a child teaches him not to take responsibility for his behavior, and to develop a life-long chemical dependency. I like to believe that Hercules will be more empowered in the long run if he learns to regulate his emotions and behavior on his own. I've already accepted the fact that this is going to be the more difficult option, versus meds, but I like to think the long-term pay off will be worth it. That remains to be seen.

However, I have already allowed myself the possibility that meds may be an option a couple of years down the road IF all our other interventions don't yield any measurable results. I'm still clinging to the hope that a lot of Rio's issues are related to emotional immaturity, and it's very likely that he'll grow out of it someday. But let me be clear, if he's 10 years old and I still cannot take him to the grocery store without, ahem, medicating myself first - you bet your ass I'll put him on meds.

I think the lesson to be learned from all this is that we all need to stop judging parents, particularly mothers, who may choose to do things differently than we do. Because there is no single technique that works for all children. Every child is unique, and some are far more challenging than others for a variety of reasons. So the next time you see a kid kicking and screaming on the floor in the grocery store, don't shake your head and roll your eyes. Instead, say a little prayer for the kid and the mom. They need all the blessings they can get.

2 Comments:

Blogger momma-yaya said...

That's an amazing story. So important to remain open and receptive to others' experiences. As someone who at times vehmently opposes medications for kids like ours (and sometimes shoots off my silly mouth about it in inconsiderate ways) and at other times seriously considers medication for myself and my son, I feel I am the most inconsistent and indecisive soul that ever lived. In the end, my fear of the unknown always wins. And yeah, ditto all the stuff you said. My son turns 8 tomorrow and I am of the opinion that he is doing far better now than ever before. I find him more manageable and enjoyable, and if pressed would probably say that maturity--and maybe the gluten-free diet, maybe vitamins, maybe Nurtured Heart stuff--has "improved" his issues by, like 75%. Or maybe I'm just getting more used to it.

9/28/2005 12:08 PM  
Blogger pomedome said...

Wow. I've been checking your site and am mightily impressed. You express yourself in words very well, but the pictures are truly a thousand. Thanks for adding beauty to this world. -JM

10/04/2005 6:08 AM  

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