Medicating instead of Disciplining?

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Medicating instead of Disciplining?

From the book "Why Gender Matters"

"In a bizzare turn of events it has become politically incorrct to spank your child, but ok to drug him.

Something fundamental has changed. There has been a transformation in the way we think about children throughout most of history in western civilization, parents have assumed that children are inclined to misbehavior. This assumption is manifest in the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity, in the Catholic church doctrine of original sin, and the Jewish belief of yetzer hara, the evil impulse. The role of parents it was thought- was to guide kids along the straight and narrow. Without strict parenting, children were innately inclined to misbehave. Or such was the common belief.

Today the dominant ethos reflects the 1960's flower child belief in the innate goodness of children. Children are born good, according to this world view. If kids behave badly it much be because of: bad parenting, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, environmental toxins, ADD, violent entertainment and media.

Take your pick. Even the language used be parents and professional to describe the disobedient child has changed. Fifty years ago a boy who stole from other kids was a "thief" Today he's a boy exhibiting : adolescent conduct disorder with maladaptive social functioning." The change in language results from a change in the way people thing about juvenile misbehavior. Fifty years ago, bad behavior was considered a disciplinary problem. If you misbehaved, you needed to be punished. Today bad behavior is more often considered a psychiatric problem. Kid's who misbehave are referred to a specialist for a diagnosis- and for treatment often with medication.

And psychiatrists have plenty of diagnoses at their disposal. The most recent addition of the DSM-IV, lists half a dozen "diagnoses" that could be applied to plain old disobedience. Consider the official description of "Oppositional Defiant Disorder," DSM-IV 313.81:

The essential feature of ODD is the recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior towards authority figures that persists for at least 6 months and is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least 4 of the following behaviors: Losing temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules of adults, deliberately doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her own mistakes and misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry or resentful, or being spiteful and vindictive. .......

Parents who would balk at drugging their children for misbehavior would be much more comfortable doing it as a method of treatment. I call this process the "Medicalization of misbehavior."

Do you agree with the bolded statement?

Also, do you agree with the concept that children are "born good" and misbehavior results from some sort of parental or societal failure? Do you think that a lack of parental willingness to discipline children has resulted in the overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of psychiatric problems in children?

Anything else you find debate worthy in this piece?

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Interesting debate.

I'm not sure that children are "born good." I think they're born with unique personalities for sure. Personalities that are shaped by their genetics and experiences. Their misbehavior can be the result of many things, and for most kids I don't think we'll ever know why they do the bad things they do. Are some people just terrible parents that lack the skills to raise a child? Sure. Are others just looking to blame someone or something else for their child's unruly ways? Of course. But there are also kids with genuine disorders (ODD, ADHD, Autism, etc.) and the cause of their disorder and subsequent behaviors will always be a mystery.

Can't wait to see what everyone else has to say!

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I think children are over medicated and over perscribed. Are there kids who need it?Absolutely. But I do think that many parents are willing to medicate before anything else and are quick to label their kid in order to medicate them.

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ITA with that bolded statement. Most kids I know IRL whose parents say are OCD or ADD or whatever are ineffective, neglectful and/or lazy parents, and IMHO that's the #1 reason why their kids aren't good. They don't discipline their children very well (and I'm using this in the "teach" way not the "punish" way) and they let them have too much uncontrolled screen time rather than engage with them and they feed them a bunch of crap because it's fast & easy, and then they wonder why Johnny can't behave at school. So they dump drugs down him instead of cleaning up their kid's body & environment, or actually being a parent & making him do a few things he doesn't like, oh boohoo. Are there kids who truly need medication? Yes, but I'd guess it's easily the minority of those who are actually getting medication because it's an easier fix than being a good parent.

And I do believe that children are born good. I can't believe that a child could be born bad, and the argument that they are neutral & must be influenced one way or the other doesn't ring true to me; the unconditional love I felt from my minutes-old newborn wasn't neutral in any way. :love10:

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"Spacers" wrote:

ITA with that bolded statement. Most kids I know IRL whose parents say are OCD or ADD or whatever are ineffective, neglectful and/or lazy parents, and IMHO that's the #1 reason why their kids aren't good. They don't discipline their children very well (and I'm using this in the "teach" way not the "punish" way) and they let them have too much uncontrolled screen time rather than engage with them and they feed them a bunch of crap because it's fast & easy, and then they wonder why Johnny can't behave at school. So they dump drugs down him instead of cleaning up their kid's body & environment, or actually being a parent & making him do a few things he doesn't like, oh boohoo. Are there kids who truly need medication? Yes, but I'd guess it's easily the minority of those who are actually getting medication because it's an easier fix than being a good parent.

I think this is pretty harsh. It is often hard to tell if the parenting is a result of the childs behavior or if the behavior is the result of the parenting style. For example, if you have a very difficult child who fights you on everything you would probably be more likely to let them get their way and watch TV more because you need to pick your battles. Likewise if you have a child who doesnt talk, you may get in the habit of letting him eat whatever he wants as long as he says the words and asks for it.

I am actually pretty appalled that you would judge another parent on the way they choose to parent IF you are not intimately knowledgeable with how their parenting 'style' evolved. (I say if, because you could be referring to a family that you know very well, but it sounds like you are speaking in generalities)

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"Spacers" wrote:

ITA with that bolded statement. Most kids I know IRL whose parents say are OCD or ADD or whatever are ineffective, neglectful and/or lazy parents, and IMHO that's the #1 reason why their kids aren't good.

Wow. Medical experts agree that ADD is a neurological condition that has heavy genetic predisposition. ADD often runs in families, and studies have shown that even wonderful parenting won't stop the child from having the disorder. Poor parenting can make behavior worse, but it's not going to cause a child to have the problem from the get go.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd/experts-bad-parenting-and-adhd.aspx
http://health.more4kids.info/2008/01/adhd-and-genetics/

On another note: One of my employees has an autistic son, and ignorant idiots have told HER that it's all because of her bad parenting and lack of discipline, too.

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Nature vs. nurture debate?

I am of the opinion that we are all a result of a combination of the two. I do believe there are children with diagnosable problems that need medical intervention. I think we all have a natural disposition. But I also think that our natural disposition can be altered, augmented, shaped given our nurturing environment.

In other words I think we are all born with tendencies but what we do with those tendencies has a large interdependency on how we are raised.

As a mom of 2 step sons (and 3 biological children) I have some first hand experience with what both nature and nurture have to offer. There is a noticable behavior pattern my DSS's fall into after they've been with their mother who does not know how to discipline effectively. After they have had time with us their behavior improves. We work very hard at consistency and positive attention.

I have also seen my DSS#1 be so negative it's, well, a little scary. Frankly, he is just that way. A born pessimist I guess (his mother also exhibits this trait). But with our coaching and encouraging he works to turn that negativity into a more positive response. And from that his negativity doesn't go away but does move in a more positive direction.

So I don't think there's a "one size fits all" answer to this. As each human and human experience is different so could each human's behavioral answer be different.

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I agree with Christina. I think that every person is a combo of the interplay of nature and nurture. I also think it's really harsh to presume that most kids who have ADD or OCD or other problems just have lame parents. Until you've walked a mile in those shoes, you know? From what I remember from my psych classes, most problems (depression, OCD, ADD, et cetera) have some physical basis. That's not to say that environment, diet, parenting styles, et cetera have no bearing on the situation, but again, it's an interplay.

Having said that, I will say that ideally I think that long term medical interventions should be fairly far down on the list of options. I do say "long term" because I know that in the case of depression particularly sometimes a short term run of anti-depressants is very effective in dealing with the chemical aspects of depression while giving the patient room to work on the environmental/lifestyle issues, so I suspect that the same could hold true for other issues (ADD, OCD). A short term run of meds might be helpful while the child adjusts to more the more environmental changes. But overall, I would like to see diet/environment/parenting type changes implemented BEFORE the decision to put a child on long term meds.

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I agree that most of these things are a combo of nature and nurture. The problem as I see it for many of these kids is that once they reach school age their parents are no longer their primary caregivers/teachers. So while a parent may have been able to adapt the environment to the child and help them learn effectively as a preschooler, that same child is expected to fit into a one size fits all school system. That is often the point where medication etc starts getting recommended, because it is not always possible to adapt the classroom to the child. I actually see that as more of the problem then anything else. In the past there were more options in terms of trades etc that were recommended for kids who didnt learn well in the classroom, and as much as Im not sure that streaming children at a young age was a good idea, I think it did help alot of these kids find there place.

I think that in our industrialized society most people see school smart as the only kind of smart and so we force a level of education on kids that we didnt in the past. They probably need it in our society too.

I hope that made sence. Kinda thinking as I go. Oh, and not knocking teachers. I am one:)

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"ftmom" wrote:

I think this is pretty harsh. It is often hard to tell if the parenting is a result of the childs behavior or if the behavior is the result of the parenting style. For example, if you have a very difficult child who fights you on everything you would probably be more likely to let them get their way and watch TV more because you need to pick your battles. Likewise if you have a child who doesnt talk, you may get in the habit of letting him eat whatever he wants as long as he says the words and asks for it.

I am actually pretty appalled that you would judge another parent on the way they choose to parent IF you are not intimately knowledgeable with how their parenting 'style' evolved. (I say if, because you could be referring to a family that you know very well, but it sounds like you are speaking in generalities)

Like I said, I know several families in real life, and that I've known long enough to feel confident in saying this, whose lack of parenting is either the reason for their child's troubled behavior, or the reason why it's become a problem. I'm not disputing that there are kids out there with real diagnoses, but I suspect that many of those diagnoses wouldn't be there if those parents were more effective.

For example, there's a boy at school who has had a few run-ins with my daughter; his mom says he's seeing a therapist for "attachment issues" and is on anxiety medication. His mom travels on business a lot even though she admits she doesn't always *have* to, she likes flying & staying in nice hotels on someone else's dime. She recently left him (age 6) alone at home with a series of babysitters for 16 days; granted, some of that time was a business trip, but she added personal travel at the beginning & end. I told her that, if it were me with a child who has attachment issues and anxiety, I would keep my trip as short as possible and the number of babysitters as few as possible. The mom says it's OK because kids are adaptable; most kids are, some aren't, and the fact that hers has attachment problems and anxiety indicates that her parenting style isn't really working for him, don't you think?

Here's another: My SIL (the one who openly states that she hates being a parent) wonders why her DD was recently diagnosed as OCD; maybe it's because she pretty much raises her DD like someone might raise a cat -- she provides food & shelter, but otherwise pretty much ignores her DD. She never held her as a baby (poor kid literally spent her infancy in a carseat or swing) she never plays with her, the only stimulation the kid gets is videos, she never takes her DD to a park to learn how to interact with other kids, her DD is four & still not potty-trained & refuses to talk to anyone except SIL & MIL. I could rattle off at least half a dozen examples of families I know IRL who aren't this extreme, but whose children have a diagnosis of something and whose parenting makes you go hmmmmm.... In fact, I can't think of one single child I know who has what could be called problem behavior who does have parents who do set limits, enforce rules, set good examples, etc.

And then there are the parents who don't have a diagnosis but want one. :rolleyes: My sister has for the past three years tried to get her son on ADD medication, she's even switched peds a few times trying to find someone to do it, but she hasn't cut out the junk food, she hasn't cut out the violent video games, she hasn't enrolled him in any kind of activity to channel his excess energy, the only thing she wants to have to do is give him a pill. And again, I can think of about half a dozen families where the parents go on & on about their kids' poor behavior, and wonder what is wrong with them that the doctor has missed, and I have to wonder how their kids would behave if maybe they didn't drink a liter of soda or have their face in a screen all day or were just told no once in a while. Yeah, it's judging. I'm pretty appalled that people do this to their kids.

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Spacers, that's cool that you know people in those specific situations. But to make such a blanket statement about parents with children that have these issues is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The fact that you know a few people with kids that have these issues does NOT give you a warrant to make such a harsh judgement. I could never, mostly because I don't have a child with a diagnosis. I can't imagine how hard, emotional, disappointing, confusing, and a host of other emotions it must be to deal with this as a parent. And to have people like you making such unfair judgements would make it that much harder.

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Does anyone care to debate the subject at hand instead of making snide remarks about me? The question isn't whether Stacey is being judgmental or harsh in her evaluation of some of the kids she knows, but whether a lack of parental willingness to discipline children has resulted in the overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of psychiatric problems in children. I think it has because I seem to see it happening an awful lot.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Does anyone care to debate the subject at hand instead of making snide remarks about me? The question isn't whether Stacey is being judgmental or harsh in her evaluation of some of the kids she knows, but whether a lack of parental willingness to discipline children has resulted in the overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of psychiatric problems in children. I think it has because I seem to see it happening an awful lot.

You are the one who offered specific examples of "some of the kids you know". If you don't want it debated, don't put it out there. My intention wasn't to be "snide", I was giving my opinion on your POV.

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I've seen both. There has always been neglectful parents.. they just now have another option to cover up their neglect.. that of medication. On the flipside.. There has always been great parents, that now can help their child even more thanks to medication.

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"daniellevmt" wrote:

Spacers, that's cool that you know people in those specific situations. But to make such a blanket statement about parents with children that have these issues is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The fact that you know a few people with kids that have these issues does NOT give you a warrant to make such a harsh judgement. I could never, mostly because I don't have a child with a diagnosis. I can't imagine how hard, emotional, disappointing, confusing, and a host of other emotions it must be to deal with this as a parent. And to have people like you making such unfair judgements would make it that much harder.

From personal experience I can say that yes it does suck being labeled. With in the last 9 months I have one child that has been in 4 different behavioral hospitals, 2 of which were after 2 very serious suicide attempts.

She has a whole slew of "labels" placed on her including MDD, ODD, BPD, ADHD, just to name a few. As of now she is only being medicated for the MDD because that is the one that poses the greatest risk to her life.

People around here specifically parents from my children's school were VERY quick to label us as horrible parents and refuse to allow their children to even interact with any of our kids even during school. They can't look past the fact that we have one child currently having psychological issues and see that through it all we are still managing to raise 6 other kids who don't have any sort of psychological issues.

When people have no real personal understanding of mental illness it's easier to just pass judgement on the parents and the rest of the family instead of taking the opportunity to learn exactly what mental illness is. :confused:

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"Dewey" wrote:

People around here specifically parents from my children's school were VERY quick to label us as horrible parents and refuse to allow their children to even interact with any of our kids even during school. They can't look past the fact that we have one child currently having psychological issues and see that through it all we are still managing to raise 6 other kids who don't have any sort of psychological issues.

When people have no real personal understanding of mental illness it's easier to just pass judgement on the parents and the rest of the family instead of taking the opportunity to learn exactly what mental illness is. :confused:

This is horrible, how old is this child? Was she dangerous to others? I try to really involve my children with a wide variety of children, especially those with different ways of thinking and acting. It is a great learning and growth experience for my children to form friendships with them, and other people.. not just children.. as well. I think many parents are scared of people/children that are different.. not sure why.. it isn't contagious. It is usually just ignorance IMO, they think they are being protective but they are creating intolerance.

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My heart goes out to you Dewey (sorry I dont know your real name)! That must be so hard to go through, for you and all your children.

On another note, I have been thinking about this, and not only do I think that the shape our society has taken is partly to blame (children with ADD for example, probably would have excelled in a hunter/gatherer society) but in terms of parenting, psychological problems have a tendency to run in families. And I was just thinking that it is probably harder for a parent with ADD tendencies to deal with a child with ADD, or a depressed parent to deal with a depressed child, etc.

I really just think that there are so many factors that feed into these issues and the decision to medicate etc. Personally I would be really hesitant to medicate my child, however, as a stay at home parent without problems of my own I have the luxury of trying different things. However, if necessary I would do whatever my child needed including medicating.

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"Rivergallery" wrote:

This is horrible, how old is this child? Was she dangerous to others? I try to really involve my children with a wide variety of children, especially those with different ways of thinking and acting. It is a great learning and growth experience for my children to form friendships with them, and other people.. not just children.. as well. I think many parents are scared of people/children that are different.. not sure why.. it isn't contagious. It is usually just ignorance IMO, they think they are being protective but they are creating intolerance.

She is 15, and no has never posed a danger to others, she is only a danger to herself. She is far more compassionate and caring for others then she is for herself.

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I agree with those who say that there is a combination of nature and nurture at work. Some kids are born with conditions that lead to behaviour issues and there isn't a lot a parent can do to change that. In some cases it is a parenting or environment issue. I think that in all cases though there are things that can be done at home that can help the child to learn to control their own behaviour, whether medication is needed or not. Even if a child is medicated there needs to be work done to help that child - be it counselling, environment or food changes or changes to the parenting strategy. I think it all works hand in hand.

I do see a lot of issues with the school system and societies need to have kids conform. Some kids do not learn well within that system or have issues that are not neurological but they get lumped in with the ADD categories. And it is often done in a desire to have the child conform to the school needs. For example, DSD is a very active person who loves to talk. As a child (she is 14 now) a teacher tried insist that she have the ADD testing done because she wouldn't sit still and be quiet. The teacher suggested she needed to be medicated. Her parents disagreed as did her doctor. In fact her parents fought pretty hard to keep that diagnosis off her because it wasn't true. Is she an energetic kid? You bet! Did she have problems staying still? Yes. But it turned out that she was bored! She would finish her work early and then want to roam and talk. She needed more challenging work. She also needs a good nights sleep and limited sugar. Since then we have worked with her and her teacher to come up with behavioural plans that help her to be the person the school needs her to be (such as desk placement away from friends, extra work, discussions at home about when it is ok to talk, etc). And this year (I admit it is the first year) we have had no complaints whatsoever about her talking in school (yay!!!). She now has the maturity to understand what is needed and the skills to do it. It has taken a lot of years and work on all parts to achieve this. Now, had they listened to that teacher and medicated she wouldn't be have these skills as she wouldn't have had the opportunity to develop these behaviour plans and skills. I think that her difficulties in school have helped her to develop the skills that she will need without changing who she is. It was well worth it! I feel sorry for the kids whose parents, teachers and doctors are not willing to put in the work needed to try to resolve some of these things first and just turn to the drugs. I don't think drugs alone can truly help a child. (Of course in true neurological conditions medication is often an essential part of that behaviour plan.)

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"Dewey" wrote:

From personal experience I can say that yes it does suck being labeled. With in the last 9 months I have one child that has been in 4 different behavioral hospitals, 2 of which were after 2 very serious suicide attempts.

She has a whole slew of "labels" placed on her including MDD, ODD, BPD, ADHD, just to name a few. As of now she is only being medicated for the MDD because that is the one that poses the greatest risk to her life.

People around here specifically parents from my children's school were VERY quick to label us as horrible parents and refuse to allow their children to even interact with any of our kids even during school. They can't look past the fact that we have one child currently having psychological issues and see that through it all we are still managing to raise 6 other kids who don't have any sort of psychological issues.

When people have no real personal understanding of mental illness it's easier to just pass judgement on the parents and the rest of the family instead of taking the opportunity to learn exactly what mental illness is. :confused:

:bigarmhug:

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"Dewey" wrote:

She is 15, and no has never posed a danger to others, she is only a danger to herself. She is far more compassionate and caring for others then she is for herself.

This breaks my heart! I will be praying for her.. hope you don't mind.

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Dewey - how heartbreaking. I am so sorry that your dd is going through this, and so sorry for your family too. Many, many, MANY hugs your way, Mama.

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Thanks y'all, to say it hasn't consumed my entire last 9 months would be putting it lightly, there are times we go day to day and others we go moment by moment. We truly thought we had lost her back at the beginning of December, She was in liver and kidney failure and was status one on the national liver transplant list. It's only through the grace of God and the amazing doctors at Mayo PICU that we still have her here with us.

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I'm coming from the opposite side of the tracks here (probably) - I have a kid diagnosed with behavioral disorders, and said child is on medication, so I constantly get the barrage of "Your child/brat/heathen/darling just needs more attention/spankings/punishments/love and understanding." Thing 2 has been on various ADHD medications since she was 3 years old - we got PLENTY of crap from parents who didn't know us, but the people who we got the most applause from were her preschool teachers and daycare providers who knew personally where she started and how the medication helped her. Thing 2 is almost 6 years old and is now on an ADHD medication, an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant, and a sleeping aid, and with a few modifications to her school routine, she is now performing as a star student who can pay attention in class, contribute positively to the classroom structure, and no longer hits, kicks, punches, or bites her teachers. Before her meds, I was going to bed crying almost every night because of how terrible her behavior was and how absolutely nothing that we did had any impact on her. This was causing terrible tension between Thing 2 and everyone in the family - Thing 1 was anxious and scared all the time of how her sister would behave (and this was the worst, as Thing 1 is diagnosed as high-functioning autistic and needs to have consistency), and Mr. Berry and I were arguing constantly because we both knew that nothing was working - we seriously considered divorce at one point due to the amount of stress the entire family was under.

But as someone upthread mentioned - don't judge until you've walked a mile in that parent's shoes. It's one thing to look at my child (or any child) and make snap judgements based on the screaming, thrashing temper tantrum. It's another thing to have seen the same child 20 seconds earlier acting completely "normally" until something completely innocuous sets her off into a fit.

To some extent, it IS poor coping skills when faced with something outside the expected. This is why parents work with doctors and therapists and (OMGGASP) psychiatrists who prescribe medications. Sometimes, good parenting just isn't enough when the problem is rooted in a physiological issue. Without the external help of Thing 2's therapy team, she would have been expelled from school by now for violence and unruliness. We would never have been able to help teach her to deal with her emotions when things don't go her way because her brain would not allow her to make these connections without her medication.

Overall, I know medicating kids is a very controversial subject. And yes, there are definitely parents out there who are abusing the system because they are too lazy to put in the effort of teaching their kids proper behavior, manners, and methods of coping. Those parents give the parents who legitimately need the outside assistance a bad name. And parents need to realize that while the medication may fix the problem short-term, it's not meant as a cure-all - without therapy (behavioral and/or psychological), it's a Band-Aid fix to a problem that needs surgery to repair.

My kid is NOT a zombie - even with the medicine she's on, she's awake at 7am every morning and doesn't go to bed until almost 10pm or 11pm every night, and is awake and alert and running like a V8 engine the entire time (and this is with her sleep aid - beforehand, she would be up until 1am routinely). She hasn't napped since she was about 15 months old. However, at least she can focus on her classwork and responsibilities at home (for the most part) without a meltdown when someone so much as breathes funny. But in the end, I think that justifying our choices shouldn't even need to be necessary - if it works for our family and for our child when nothing else would, then I call it a success.

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"brawlberry" wrote:

But in the end, I think that justifying our choices shouldn't even need to be necessary - if it works for our family and for our child when nothing else would, then I call it a success.

Amen to that.