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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Medication VS Parenting: Who is right?

I heard a story this evening that made me literally ill. It was so upsetting and so stupid that it enraged me. I'm going to repeat it here, leaving out any identifying information.

Billy (not real name) is a 5.5 year old boy. He has some extreme behaviors, and has been asked to leave two schools. He has been violent, angry, and experiences both low and intense moods. He has been hospitalized three times. THREE times before first grade.

He lives with 1 parent who is the decision maker. The other parent is uninvolved. He is a single child. His mother is an earthy crunchy type, and refuses to allow her child to be medicated. She is unable to handle him, she's had him in the hospital 3 times voluntarily, she knows there is something seriously amiss, and yet she will not allow the doctors to either test him nor medicate him. She feels that testing is irrelevant, and medication is the work of the devil. (Think Tom Cruise here.)

She keeps trying crackpot 'cures' for this boy. The ones I heard about were colonics (remember, he's 5), an elimination diet that took all gluten products away because she decided he had Crohns Disease (no doctor involvement), all sugars and dyes because she decided he had yeast problems, biofeedback, meditation, and some kind of psychic healing.

Of course nothing worked because the child is mentally ill. Every time he has been hospitalized, the doctors try to work with the parent, but evidentally she is unmovable. This last hospitalization, he drove all the other kids so crazy on the unit and was so disruptive to staff that they called in the state social services, and filed a 51A, saying the parent was neglectful, which is a form of child abuse.

The state took custody of the child after a court hearing, and put him on medication. He responded well, and was released from the hospital into his grandmother's custody. Grandma was told by the court that Mom was only allowed supervised visits. But she allowed Mom to come for days at a time, and Mom took the medication away, lying to Grandma about it. Billy deteriorated, and when it was time for the FST worker to visit (home visits by a Family Stabalization Worker/Therapist), it was noted that Billy's behavior was back to horrendous. They called DSS, DSS came and took the child, and placed him in a special needs residential care in another part of the state, far enough away so the mother cannot get involved on a daily basis. She has supervised visitation weekly, I believe. This child is stable and happy in his foster care situation, but the mother has petitioned the court to get her kid back. They're going to court soon.

OY. So much to comment about. So little time. First, what the fuck is WRONG with a parent who will allow her child to suffer for her own political agenda. How fricking stupid must this woman be to KNOW that medication works for her child, but she thinks it is so bad that she would rather see him fail in academic and social environments for her own ideology? This makes me SO ANGRY.

What makes me equally angry is that the state had to get involved to get this kid help. The hospital couldn't do it because the mother is a nutcase. They had to get the state involved in order to practice medicine. How annoying is that? And the state.. WHY would they place this kid with the Grandmother when the Mom was obviously very involved in Grandma's life? If they're trying to keep the child healthy, and Mom won't cooperate, then WHY not put him in a secure facility or a foster care situation until he was stable and improving enough for the Mom to wrap her dull little brain around the fact that meds work. Why did it take Mom pulling him off meds and forcing him back to enemas and a stupid diet that doesn't EVER work for any neurological or mental issues in order for the state to place him in a residential setting?

And what about the school's liability. They never filed a 51A on this Mom for abuse, but they knew what she was doing to him was abusive. They talked to her and she told them what she was doing, and they just sat on their hands. How fucked is THAT?

Obviously, these kids of stories burn my butt because my own child has struggled for so long with his own set of mental issues. I've worked so hard to make things right for him. If you had any idea of the planning and the care that goes into keeping a child like mine safe and happy you'd bow down with respect. The daily phone calls, the doctor appointments, the therapy appointments, the testing, more phone calls. Parenting him is a full time job. When I used to work, I spent so much time dealing with his issues that my former boss ORDERED me to take one day a week off just to deal with my son. That's how time consuming it is.

I do it because it's the right thing to do. I'm not selfless. I'm not a hero. I'm not special in any way. I AM a ferocious mother and I protect my kids from harm. I do not allow anyone to shit on them, or me for that matter. I call it as I see it. When I see a bad parent, like this Mom, I tell them that they're fucking up their kid. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and I'm happy to be the village bitch if I have to. When I see parents who don't take an active interest in their children's welfare, or who refuse to get help because they're too busy or overwhelmed or in denial or whatever the excuse is, I get angry.

To me, parenting is my JOB. It's not just about sitting and reading Parents Magazine and talking about how my boobs have dropped. It's not about lamenting my stretch marks and pouchy tummy. It's not about drinking at playdates and what kind of Mom jeans you wear. It's not about what playgroup you're in, or what afternoon activities you drive your kids to. It's not about what kind of stroller you own, or what kind of cool t-shirts you dress the little buggers in.

It's about advocating for your child. It's about teaching your child how to advocate for themselves. It's about teaching morals and about ensuring that your child has EVERY advantage for success. It's about looking at your child first, and your own needs second. It's about changing your life for your kids. If you aren't willing to drop everything to care for your child, then parenting may not be the right choice for you. If you're unwilling to look objectively at your child and make sure that s/he gets the help he needs for any illness or abnormality, then perhaps you need to find a parenting advocate for help. Because that's your JOB.

If you have a special kid (yes, all kids are special, but go with me here, please!), a kid that needs extra, then it is your RESPONSIBILITY to get it for him. It is not the school's job. It is YOUR JOB. If your child has a hearing problem, don't rely on the school for testing. They have their own agenda, which is saving money by denying services. They will LIE to you. Take your child and pay for testing. If the tests come back saying that your child needs S&L therapy, DO NOT rely on the school. They will do the bare minimum at best. Pay for your child to get the best. Use your insurance. Fight for help. Use early intervention. Get the state to help.

If your child has a behavior problem, don't pretend that you know more than qualified professionals. YOU DO NOT. You might read quackery on the internet and decide that it's all the fault of vaccinations or gluten or sugar or dyes or whatever. But NONE of those studies have ever been supported by the medical community. Doctor's aren't your enemy. They don't do research for fun and profit. They are altruistic folks and they honestly want to find cures for problems. They don't just make up studies because they're evil bastards. And you are NEVER going to find one study that says no-gluten cures autism or that sugar causes AHDH. Sorry, but you're not. Maybe crackpot studies, but nothing by anyone respected in the medical community.

And if you DO decide that you know more than the doctors, and that all medication is evil, be prepared to lose your child. Because, at least in my state, that's considered abuse, evidentally. Perhaps this one case is the extreme, but it's a precedent now. Which bears deep consideration.
All I can say is, do your job and do it with diligence. You chose to be a parent. You took on this responsibility. Now you need to be selfless and do for your child regardless of your own agenda. If you want to kill yourself with homeopathic remedies for cancer, then go ahead. But you have no right to do such a dumb thing to your child.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Her Majesty said...

Oh, you're fired up! And I'm with ya.

Responsibility is the end-all word in my book. By the time an individual grows to an adult, responsibility should be so ingrained that there are zero doubts about choice-making. Choosing to be a parent is the ultimate responsibility, beyond marriage, beyond college, beyond the career. Taking on the responsibilities of raising a child are number one because of the fact that the child is just that - a child. Being responsible for that life is nothing to take lightly.

Remaining objective is something that I think is crucial to that end. However, objectivity comes easily for some, very difficultly for others. (I think that's why we have friends, btw, to shed some various views, hopefully objective ones, once in a while.)

Sounds like this woman didn't know how to be objective regarding her kid. It sucks rocks that she had no one in her life to really push and be an advocate for this kid.

As for the grandmother...if this was her mother, then I think the state screwed up severely. (the woman didn't raise her own daughter to be objectively responsible.) How could the state expect any better for this kid?

Great post and well said, Margalit. I'm still working on that promised piece, bound to fire you up. (It gets me going - that's much of why it's taking so long.)

21/4/07 4:33 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

What a thought provoking post!
Thank you so much for sharing.

Here via Michele today.

21/4/07 5:54 PM  
Blogger panthergirl said...

I am EQUALLY fired up over this issue, because if you had told me fifteen years ago that I would have a child that is heavily medicated for AHDH I would have told you that you had rocks in your head. I thought ADHD was a made up "illness" and that people who medicated their kids were off their rockers.

Well, I am here to tell you that I have a child who literally CAN. NOT. FUNCTION. without medication. He can't dress himself, he can't carry on a coherent conversation, he cannot make friends or keep friends. His dad was completely opposed to putting him on meds, but when I threw a birthday party for him at age five and not ONE person agreed to send their child, I said fuck this. We are getting help for this kid.

On meds, he is completely "normal". Off meds, you'd think he were drunk or on drugs. It's a simple case of chemical imbalance, and the meds balance him.

So.... this is a hot button issue for me, too, when people look at my sideways regarding my child's medical regimen. Walk in my mocassins, man.

Here via michele!

22/4/07 4:29 PM  
Blogger Sassy said...

It appears that the mother is mentally ill herself.

23/4/07 7:35 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

Sassy: I don't know if that's fair to say. She's a mother who believes that she's doing the right thing. THere are plenty of parents who refuse to vaccinate or who refuse to admit that their child has a disability. They might be misinformed or in denial, but that doesn't make them mentally ill. I'm certainly not sticking up for this mom (I don't know who she is, anyhow) but I'm not about to call someone crazy because they have a different belief system than I do. For all I know, she could be a Christian Scientist (we have a lot of them around here) or a Scientologist, or a believer that all Western medicine is bad juju. I don't know what the deal is.

What I do know is that everyone dropped the ball on this poor kid. And that the mother didn't take responsibility for getting him help and listening to the experts. That wasn't the brightest move on her part.

23/4/07 7:45 AM  

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