Is Your Child on ADHD/anxiety Medication? Can We Start with a Different Question?
Why is medication on or off one of the first questions we ask each other in the adhd/anxiety parenting world?
To start off I know that medicating our children is a very charged subject. Traditionally there has been a line you cross when you decide to medicate your child and you are on the wrong side of the better parent line.
We all want what is best for our children. We want our children to be truly happy thriving individuals and in some families that are having a really hard time-- we just do not want them to hurt themselves. The same, worry, guilt and judgement that we all go through making this decision is heartbreaking.
I believe we ask the medication question because it is like dipping a toe into a lake you “understand” where the parent/child is if they are or are not medicating their child. To find others who have made the same decision gives validation in our own decision or continue to learn from the others who have not just in case there is one thing we have not tried.
When I decided to put my one son on medication. I was very sad. I had tried many things such as nutrition, mindfulness, exercise, checklists, routine. I felt tremendous pressure from his teachers and my beloved trusted pediatrician. I felt they thought I was over-reacting. Why are you worried they would say – it is not addictive it is just like taking insulin for a diabetic.
Truthfully, looking back I think I was still processing with my son’s diagnosis and putting pressure on myself. I thought he was just being his wonderful boy self. The day-long lego builds could not be possible if he had ADHD. I felt the medication would change him and his beautiful out of the box personality into a zombie. When they are young it is particularly hard because it is difficult for them to explain how they feel or if they feel better.
Our first go – we only tried one medication which is another very common question. It is so scary when you finally decide to do it. All the things that race in your head like addiction, the side effects, will they starve, grow to the right height etc. The medication we chose was not a good fit for my son. He was able to “calm down” in the classroom but the other main living pillars such as food, sleep, and emotional well-being suffered. He became a puddle at the end of day. We stuck it out for 6 months and decided to stop. That was 3 years ago.
I have done a lot of research in those 3 years. It appears that if you can find a medication that works well and therapy it is considered the best treatment option known at this time. My son is now 12 and in a new school that has smaller class sizes and the environment has made a huge difference in his learning, self esteem and joie de vivre. He still struggles socially reading cues, and he still gets detentions. We are out of that crisis mode but we are going to see the doctor next week because I believe that we may want to try another med to see if it would help with focus and picking up on social cues.
I do not want folks to judge our decision. I do not want to care what my friends think but I do still which is embarrassing because it really does not matter. Ultimately, it is what works best for each child. and to come from a place or filter where each parent knows intuitively what is best for their own child.
Lets start changing our conversations around this topic, we can still have them but with no judgement particularly with our own selves. As my dear partner Susan says medication is just one strategy not a bad parenting sticker.
What if some of the first questions we ask each other was how are you managing? What are your challenges? How can I help? Is your family thriving?
Lets start there.