I’m a grandmother, and a proud one at that. I have 4 grandchildren, but the one I worry about the most is my youngest. My daughter had a beautiful son in 2008 and we couldn’t have been more delighted – we already had 3 granddaughters. He was such a perfect baby…the pregnancy went fine, the birth was a breeze and mum and bub were happy. He was the first child for my daughter (my son had our other three grandkids) so when he would have tantrums, she put it down to him being just a sooky kid. When we would visit, he would be rolling on the floor, screaming at the top of his lungs. My daughter didn’t see fazed, in fact she would let him scream it out til he got tired. How she didn’t get sick of it, I don’t know.
I started to babysit him regularly late last year. I couldn’t believe how young he seemed and that he couldn’t even use his manners let along be bothered to speak to me. He was a brat of a child but being a grandmother, I loved him dearly and tried my best to discipline him in my care. It was only last month when my daughter rang to tell me that James had been diagnosed with ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. He is only 5 but the doctors had figured out that his lack of attention and his constant brattiness was really because he has a medical condition. My brain went into overdrive, thinking of how this could be true and what it meant for my only grandson’s life.
I did some research and found that sometimes the condition can be wrongly diagnosed by a doctor, which led me to think, is this just bad parenting on my daughter’s side? How do I really know if better parenting and stricter rules could help James? I looked further into it and talked to my girlfriends, one of which has a 26-year-old daughter who used to take Ritalin. She is a bit slow in terms of what she’s done in her life. She can’t drive and she can’t hold down a job. I asked her about being given Ritalin many years ago (1996), she said that she remembers it feeling like she had bursts of extremely creativity and she just wanted to draw more. She even said she knew she didn’t need to take it but felt pressured to. After around 3 years of use, they found that she did not need it after all, but she still suffered mentally as a result. And why was she told to take it in the first place? She cried too much. Turned out it wasn’t because she had ADD, but because she missed her mum and craved her attention.
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This seriously has worried me now and as my grandson is due to start medication soon, I worry about the implications of medicating young children, given what happened to my friend’s daughter and plenty of other stories I’ve read. I know as I have taken anti-depressants before that they only mask the problem, and I wonder if this is the same in this case. Will he grow out of it? I don’t trust the medication that can be given but then again, I just want what is best for him. I don’t know what to say to my daughter or to get alternative help or if it’s too late….
What would you do in this situation? What do you think of children using medication for mental issues? Is it a case of overprescribing in our culture? Tell us your thoughts below.