ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
When our 7 year-old son gets together with his 8 year-old cousin, they wrestle, get into snowball fights, and show other signs of aggressive behavior. We didn't have to go through this with our two older daughters. Should we send him to a psychiatrist? Should he be on medication?
Your seven year-old son wrestles and gets into snowball fights. Since that appears to be more than you can handle, you might as well dope up the kid. Everyone else is.
You know, Dear Jon was seven years old once. That was way back when Jimmy Carter was the governor of Georgia. Dear Jon is not what anyone today would consider “aggressive.” I do remember having snowball fights and tussling with other boys, including my baby brother.
I probably could have used medication, for all kinds of ailments. I had a constant nasal drip, with two or three sneezing fits a day. I got winded early in any physical test of endurance, like a long race. To my classmates I was weak and slow. My parents did not put me on medications for allergies or athsma, nor did they medicate me to blunt the emotional trauma for being called “weak” and “slow” by my classmates.
Around fifth grade I lost focus in school. I began to develop some skills, such as reading at several years beyond grade level, but other skills lagged. I began to despise math. Back then we had not heard of Attention Deficit Disorder, so there was nothing to medicate me or to give me excuses for being lazy about math homework. No one would have accused me of being hyperactive.
I could be awfully ornery sometimes. At home I would be stubborn and sarcastic and given to flares of temper. No diagnosis there, no syndrome with an attendant medication. What I received at home was the exercise of parental discipline, which more often came through expressions of disappointment rather than any particular punishment.
How did Dear Jon turn out? I am a mildly asthmatic, graduate-degreed professional, and married, with a slight disposition to caffeine, although I can honestly say that I am not addicted.
I have to hand it to kids today, though. They sure know how to get the junk.
What I am trying to tell you, is that your boy is NORMAL. Medications are a great short-cut for parents. What kind of message does it send kids that drugs can solve their social and behavioral problems? Flush the pills down the toilet and do the real work.
I know that mental illness is very real in many kids, and that drugs can be an important corrective to chemical imbalance. Do what you need to do. I doubt very much that as many kids as are on prescription medications, really should be. The point is, as every parent knows who has a truly high-needs child, excellent parenting is not about the latest designer drug for kids.
If you REALLY want to look at early warning signs for your boy, here are some tips:
5 Signs Your Kid is Going to Grow into a Sociopath:
1. Packs snowballs with rocks.
2. Has friends who choose to cheer for professional sports teams on the basis of the colors of the coats they sell, rather than any local loyalty.
3. Seems to keep a lot of glue around.
4. List of internet sites from his account include “White Might.Com,” “Race-baiting.Org” and “Fertilizer Bombs.Edu.”
5. Your pets growl and hiss at him, and flee at his approach.
There are other signs, but these should be enough to make you wonder if some intervention is required.