Medication and Respect

When Zippy was in kindergarten we made the very difficult decision to medicate for his ADHD.

I strongly believe that the decision to medicate or not is highly personal and should be silently respected by other parents.  That sounds pretty strong, eh?  I feel that way because every child is different, every family is different, and the decision can be a highly emotional one.  It was quite emotional for me.

Before deciding to medicate him, Paul and I had already decided that medication would be a last resort for Zippy.  We would try behavior modification techniques; we would try restrictive diet; we would try supplements; we would try therapy, etc.  We would certainly try lots of love and prayer!

But by the time we were in need of help, I was SO DESPERATE for that help that I would have begged and pleaded for a prescription for Zippy!  You have to realize that by the time we reached this point, I had sat through many, many doctor visits and received more than my share of bad news and heartbreaks sitting in exam rooms with my children.  But the only time I have ever broken down and cried in front of a doctor was the day I asked the pediatrician for ADHD meds.  I was so sad, and I felt like such a failure.  I felt like deciding to medicate Zachary was equal to saying that I did not like the way that God had created him and that I wanted the doctor to help me change who Zachary really was.  It completely broke my heart!  But I was desperate to help him . . . to help me . . . to help our family.

The pediatrician was shocked when I broke down in front of him.  I think he had always felt sorry for me and was more than a little bit amazed at me for my joy and peace through the years.  Bless his heart, he didn’t know what to do when the strong-pillar Mama broke down and cried!  He just patted my knee and placed a hand on my shoulder.  And then he handed me the prescription.  I cried all the way to the pharmacy.  And I cried when I went back the next day and picked up the medicine.  I cried the first couple of days I opened that capsule and poured it in a spoon of applesauce for my baby to swallow.

Then, I started seeing the changes.

His teacher said he was able to sit still and participate during circle time at school.  She said he was completing his color sheets and wasn’t falling out of his chair as often.  He also wasn’t getting in trouble at home as much as before.  He seemed to be able to listen better and to be able to follow some simple directions.

I remember taking him to the eye doctor (the one who prays with us!) soon after starting the medication.  I sat amazed as I watched him sit in that big exam chair and do every little thing the doctor asked him to do.  He never once stood on his head in the big exam chair.  He never once plopped himself in the middle of the floor during the exam.  He never yelled out or grabbed things from the doctor’s hands.  He never once got in trouble during the exam.  And I cried again.  I cried, happy that Zachary was able to control himself.  I cried, rejoicing that Zachary was pleased with his behavior.  I cried, proud that the doctor had noticed and had bragged on Zach.  I cried, relieved that we had made the right decision for our son.

While medication is the right decision for Zachary, it is not the right decision for all children with ADHD.  I think parents have to do the research, pray earnestly, and then do what they think is best for their child.

I chose to medicate my child.  But I also choose to respect the decisions that other parents make for their children.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amy Feinstein on October 15, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    What an encouragement your blog is! I have two ADHD boys, and some days, I wonder if I am going to lose my mind. I, too, felt like a failure when we came to the decision to medicate our oldest son when he was 10 years old. But, by that time, he was old enough to express what it was like to be trapped in his head and his body, unable to focus and pay attention or get anything finished. He begged us for help. He is now thirteen, and some days are better than others. I love the good days when we get a lot done!
    Thank you for reserving judgement. Each child is different and responds differently to every situation and treatment.


    • Amy, thank you for your note! It will be interesting to hear how Zach describes his feelings and and his moods, etc when he gets older like your 13-year-old (assuming he has the ability to understand himself by then!). And amazing that your son begged you for help! Wow! Thanks, too, for letting me know your feelings of failure were much the same as mine! We moms try so hard to be everything we can be to make life good for our kiddos, don’t we?? And I oftentimes say, “I just wish something could be easy for Zach!” And the medication makes life a little easier for him! Thanks for your encouragement today, Amy!


  2. Hi Kelly,

    I just heard about your blog! Looks great! We haven’t talked in awhile. I hope you all are doing good. Sophia had a tumor on her left kidney and in June the tumor and kidney were removed. We’ve been taking it slow, but we’re so thankful to God for his faithfulness and promises! Let me know whats up with you all!



    • Hi, Lesa! Good to “hear” from you! I did not know about Sophia. I’m so sorry y’all are having to deal with that! I will pray for her complete healing! It was good to see you ever so briefly not too long ago at therapy, too! Maybe we’ll run into you there again sometime. . . .


  3. Posted by rashik on October 16, 2009 at 12:30 AM

    I’m glad that you cried. I usually do not enjoy seeing people cry, but it worked in your favor.


  4. “I strongly believe that the decision to medicate or not is highly personal and should be silently respected by other parents.”

    Amen to that!

    I’m ashamed to say that before my explosive child came along, I was pretty judgmental about other parents. I thought I had happy, well-behaved kids because of my superior parenting skills. I have learned so much from my son, and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is not to be judgmental because you just don’t know what other families are experiencing.

    I don’t know if we’ll medicate my son. He doesn’t have a diagnosis yet and we are at the beginning of this journey. I have heard many stories like yours, though, where it sounds like medication made such a huge difference that it almost seems cruel not to do it.


    • Daxie, when I read your “Pediatrician” post the other day, I just cringed. Ugh. And that he was such a loved doctor before that. . . . ugh. I didn’t mention in my post, but Zachary did go through full psych evaluation several months before we medicated him. I highly recommend the full psych eval. It was so thorough and gave answers and connections to issues that we were seeing. It was really helpful. Unfortunately, depending on your insurance it can be quite expensive. Bless you in your journey with your son!


      • Thanks, Kelly! That is good to hear about the eval. We certainly haven’t ruled it out, and if we end up feeling like it’s necessary, we’ll figure out a way to pay for it somehow.

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