I find myself in a constant state of mildly offended and always standoffish. I don't mean to be. I certainly wasn't trying to be. But it happens anyway. And surprisingly, the ones who offend me most are my friends and family.
My family, and my real friends, should be understanding. And they generally are. But part of our problem is, honestly, they don't know quite how to do it. So to everyone I love, and those of you who have your own family in this position, here are some things "we" don't want to hear.
1. "I don't need to medicate my child. I can handle it, and I keep him/her busy."
Are you looking for a gold star for your kid, or for you? I applaud you for finding a way to deal with what you're dealing with sans medication. But please, for the love of God, don't judge me for having a different way. I do medicate my child. I'm not entirely ashamed of it. But want to hear my story? I only medicate my son on school days. Contrary to popular belief, I CAN handle my kid. In fact, I happen to love him just as much unmedicated as I do medicated. But my sons behaviors were so severe he was being tossed out of schools faster than I could find them. That, to me, was an indication we needed to listen to the doctors about medicine. I may not forever and ever medicate him. But for now, he needs it. There's this funny law in these parts that says your kid has to attend school or they throw you in jail.
2. "I'm not broadcasting that I medicate my kid. I know you do, but I don't need to."
I'm not giving my kid cyanide. I'm giving him medicine prescribed by his doctor. I'm also not one to hide things. No, I don't approach parents on the playground and state what my kid takes and why. It's none of their business. But I have released it to social media. And I do have a damn good reason. Too many parents aren't saying it. Too many parents want to act like they have their shit together and nothing anywhere is wrong. That's not me. I've been in the medical field too long to sugar coat things. I feel like hiding how I treat things won't help other parents open up about it. If I didn't want to talk about my life, I wouldn't write about it daily. Children need raised by a community. What better way to be a part of the community than to connect with other parents who are also medicating their children? I find it helpful to talk to other parents who are in the same position I am. They give me coping tips, and strategies, and damn it, some of them are better than the ones I was coming up with.
3. "I totally understand. My kid has so much energy."
Nope. You don't get it. Giving your kid Kool-Aid and a bag full of jelly beans and letting him loose on the neighborhood is not the same. My child wakes up running, and falls asleep the same way. My kid can totally and absolutely function on 3 hours of sleep. My child is me, but in petite form. And frankly, it's a hard life. I can jump between 15 different things at once, and accomplish none of them. I have so many half done things in my life that I even annoy myself with it. Now imagine being 5 and not understanding it. Your kid can probably give you a run for your money, sure. But this isn't just about extra energy. It's about not having the attention span to complete things. I'm 31, and still have trouble. I was never diagnosed with anything, but looking back on it now, I should have been. I was an excellent student in the subjects I liked. Everything else, I barely scraped by. I am great with projects, but shitty with deadlines. I lose interest in things so quickly that I often don't even learn enough about something before I'm off on something else. Who on earth wants their kids to feel the same way? The trouble here is I completely understand what he feels like, and I want better for him. So stop saying you get it, honey, because you don't.
4. "Try this diet. I've heard wonderful things."
I know people are just trying to be helpful. I know they have our best interests at heart. But I am not going to feed my kid water and bananas for 3 meals a day. Or whatever fad diet they come up with next week. Or the week after. Yes, I have started cooking more healthy meals. I've steered away from pre-prepared foods. I give him vegetables and meats and a well rounded diet. Sure, I let him sneak unhealthy snacks sometimes. I even let him eat candy. But in moderation, it won't kill him. Nor will it make him behave any better or worse. I've spoken to numerous specialists about diets, and none of them are appropriate for my kid. Sure, they might work for some kids, but they won't do any good for mine. He doesn't have any of the conditions where these diets would do any good. I love my kid, and I want the best for him, but I honestly don't believe that making him a vegan or a gluten free kid or anything like that will make him "better". He's just fine how he is.
5. "He's just a brat. You should discipline him more."
I'm sure my kid is a bit of a brat. Whose kid isn't these days? All of them seem to have iPads and computers and electronic toys and God knows what else. Plus my kid was the first grandchild on both sides. He is a brat. But occasionally, what you view as being bratty is honestly something my kid is having a hard time handling. Certain things are a bit much for my kid to take. In large groups, there is too much going on for my kid to be able to keep his cool. I know, because sometimes I feel the same way. There are so many things to look at and pay attention to and process that it's overwhelming. You almost don't know where to start. What you don't see is that I own a time out chair, which my son is well acquainted with. I have been known to smack my kids butt when he deserves it. I have even put soap in my kids mouth for speaking to Mommy and Daddy how he does. My kid gets disciplined. Don't assume that because you don't SEE me smack my kid, that I don't discipline him. I do not feel that making a child the spectacle in the grocery store by beating his ass is going to help him learn anything other than Mommy is mean. I prefer to handle our discipline in privacy, that way I can make sure he's getting what I'm teaching him.
I'm not saying that every time I hear these things that they are meant in a condescending way. But I take them that way simply because of how many times I hear them.
I am NOT a perfect parent, just as you probably aren't either. I haven't met a perfect parent yet. We all screw up. We all get irritated and send our kids upstairs with a snack just to get 5 minutes of quiet time to start dinner. We all turn on stupid cartoons to distract our kid so we can shower in peace and quiet. We all buy them that toy they don't need because we love them. I'm just tired of being judged more harshly because my kid has a "diagnosis". It's not fair to define my child by what he has, and it's equally unfair to judge my parenting based on the same thing.
So stop saying these kinds of things to any parent. Stop bullying each other. Parenting is the hardest thing in the world to do. It's the shittiest job I've ever had. Stop making it worse.