Years later, the child has trouble finding their classes in high school and even college, calling their parents for help. Similarly, the child is still completely dependent on their parents, well into their 20′s, for laundry and cooked meals.
Ultimately, the child never really learns to stand up for themselves or believe in themselves.
They never learn individuality, because their concept of it is based completely on how their parents perceive them.
By the time they reach adulthood, all the “babying” their parents have done has preserved them in a perpetual state of “what am I supposed to do?”
Now is your chance to enlighten me, as well as the rest of us, who don’t understand your parenting style. Now is your chance to defend your proud stance as a helicopter parent. Set the record straight by overwriting the stereotype I just shared.
Culturally, as children of The Eighties, we’ve been taught we’re not supposed to care what other people think about us. But really, is that even possible? Especially as parents, shouldn’t we care… at least a little?
In my office I work with a guy who, at least once a week, declares, “I could care less what people think about me!” The funny thing is, he has said it enough times that I no longer believe him.
I’m convinced that he wants people to think he doesn’t care; therefore, he cares what people think of him.
When it comes to being a parent, I suppose it can be easy to put yourself in a position to be judged and analyzed by other parents.
“Why did you decide to circumcise your son?”
“Oh, you don’t let him drink fruit juice?”
“You did the ‘cry it out’ method with him? Don’t you know that traumatizes a kid?”
So much polarization in parenting.
Here’s the thing about me. I do care about what people think about me… to an extent. And I think it’s important that I do.
It matters that I’m not a racist, a bigot, a gossip, a chauvinist, or a self-centered jerk. There are all kinds of things I don’t what to be perceived as. Like a bad father.
What would make me a bad parent? Not caring. Choosing not to be involved in my son’s life.
But when it comes to being perceived as wrong about all those numerous controversial parenting issues… well, that’s cool with me.
Because the thing is, when it comes to every and any issue in life in general, there’s a pretty good chance I’m wrong at least half the time. Especially in being a dad.
And being “wrong” in the eyes of the slight majority doesn’t mean I’m not a good father. Whether or not I’m being “normal enough” is irrelevant to me.
Accordingly, I just don’t have time to worry about other parents.
For example, I am absolutely against medicating my child for ADHD at any point. But how do I feel about parents who do?
Don’t care. Not my kid.
So what do I care about? I care that I have my own convictions on how I will raise my son and that I stick to them. If I have questions, I will seek the advice of people I respect. Not worry myself about it.
I want to say today that ultimately, I honestly don’t care what other parents think about me as a parent.
While I’m at it, I would love to also proclaim that I don’t judge other parents when I disagree with their parenting style, as I deal with the plank in my own eye as opposed to the perceived speck of dust in the eyes of other parents.
But like the coworker who I mentioned earlier, do I really feel this way or do I just want you to think I do?
I’ve heard several fellow critics of medicating kids for ADHD say that those children never really learn to cope with their problems; therefore explaining why 23% of the 6 million plus children currently on these untested-yet-FDA-approved psychiatric drugs go on to test positive as bipolar.
Actually, I never really thought of it before, but yes, at some point a child needs to learn coping skills. But how and when?
Leave it to me, Mr. Overkill, but for the past couple of weeks now, I’ve been deliberately teaching “coping skills” to my 17 month-old toddler.
My son Jack is in a stage now where he is testing me on whether I will help him when he doesn’t actually need my help.
For example, he will roll his Hot Wheels car underneath the couch where he can still reach it, but he will whine and look at me, as if I should save the day. He hears the same thing from me each time:
“Son, use your coping skills. You can reach it.”
Similarly, I recently helped Jack harness his bravest coping skills to learn how to pull himself up on our coffee table. It’s now a new hang-out spot; along with the fridge.
Other times, he whines about something neither he nor I can control. Like when I’m driving him home and he drops his book on the floor.
“Son, use your coping skills. There is nothing we can do about your toy until we get home.”
The simplicity of what I am hoping to teach him is this: I will help you unless A) you can figure out a way to deal with it yourself or B) it’s something no one can control.
I guess ultimately, my “coping skills” concept is a blatant rip-off of the famous Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
If you are familiar with The Dadabase, then you know I am a huge advocate of letting your infant “cry it out” in order to sleep through the night. While Jack has been sleeping through the night for the past 10 months of his 17 month long life, he still tests me during his weekend naps.
You guessed it: I say it all comes down to coping skills.
“Son, use your coping skills. I’ve wrapped you up in this blanket and held you for a minute. You’re very tired and you know you need sleep. I’m setting you down in your bed now and you’re going to learn to fall asleep on your own.”
He “copes” for about 5 minutes then he’s asleep.
My son will experience a life full of “no’s.” Whether it’s me, his friends, his teachers, future employers, and even God Himself.
I know this because at age 31, I’m still struggling with my own coping skills.
Back in 2002 while in college, I was a substitute teacher. I remember how for several Kindergartners, I had to make sure they took their medicine for ADHD. I didn’t agree with what I was doing, but I wasn’t their parent; nor was I even their real teacher.
Recently I pitched this question to everyone on Facebook and Twitter:
“How young is too young to medicate a child for ADHD and/or bipolar disorder?”
Very few people were willing to answer this question, but those who did A) are school teachers and B) replied that children shouldn’t be medicated for those things at all.
I think in our culture it has become taboo to talk about this subject openly because so many adults are on some kind of prescription for depression. To speak against medicating any person for a psychiatric disorder is a sure fire way to offend plenty of people in your social network of friends, family, and random people on Facebook you pretend to remember from college.
But I’m not talking about adults being treated for psychiatric disorders, I’m wanting to have an open discussion about kids being medically treated for these things.
The question I am asking is how young is too young for a child to be treated for ADHD and bipolar disorder?
See, I am trying to find out how America truly feels about this issue; whether you support it, oppose it, or are confused by it.
(I’m not talking about Autism, by the way.)
I should point out why I keep relating ADHD and bipolar disorder as if they are related. That’s because, according to the documentary Frontline: The Medicated Child (available on Netflix streaming, pbs.org, and YouTube), of all the children who are diagnosed with ADHD, 23% of them also are diagnosed as bipolar.
As of 2008 when the documentary was made, there were over 6 million kids being treated for ADHD and depression. I can’t imagine that number has gotten any lower since then.
See the slippery slope? Get medicated for ADHD at age 6 and work your way up to depression medication by the time you’re 10 years old.
It’s evidently unethical and socially unacceptable to test out psychiatric drugs on children before the drugs go out on the market, so children are given the same medication that are given to adults.
Either way, kids become the Guinea pigs for these drugs.
So how are children diagnosed for these psychiatric disorders anyway? According to Frontline: The Medicated Child, it really just comes down to a doctor’s simple analysis:
The key behaviors of ADHD sufferers are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
And for bipolar disorder: euphoria or irritability, grandiose ideas, excessive talking, racing thoughts, and unusual energy.
I guess the question is, how is every kid in America not a sufferer of ADHD or bipolar disorder? More importantly, how is my 16 month-old toddler not the poster child for these psychiatric disorders?
Obviously, I’m leaving myself open for someone to say, “You don’t know what it’s like to raise a child with ADHD and/or depression…”.
That’s right. I don’t and I won’t.
Because I’m drawing the behavioral boundaries for him; even now. He can’t even speak a full sentence yet, but he is already very aware of what he can and can not do.