Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sometimes We Have To Make Hard Parenting Choices

You know those days when you wake up and you just know exactly what you need to do about something that has been weighing on your mind and you really don't like the answer?  I had one of those days this week.  I kept hoping I'd wake up one morning and the answer would be different, but instead it has just become clearer and clearer.

Anyone who has read any posts about Liam and his antics in the past couple of years knows that he is one rascally kid...and that's putting it lightly.  This kid is in constant motion from the minute his eyes open in the morning until he finally collapses asleep at night.  He is truly a two foot tornado destroying everything in his path and often putting himself in danger in the process.

We have a great pediatrician, and as much as I trust her opinion, I've avoided her suggestion that we consider giving him some medicine to help control his impulses for a long time.  In my heart, I wanted to believe that giving him more language, more attention, more structure, more of...well, something that he would eventually mellow out.  The thought of medicating him so young just felt wrong.

Well, we've given him sound and language and he's still all over the place. We've given him structure and he's still all over the place. We've given him attention and he's still all over the place. Are you seeing a trend here?

It's not so much that we mind him being all over the place. The bigger issue is that of safety.  In the past few weeks alone,he has:

Learned to climb through and over the gate in the backyard to get onto the busy road behind us
Learned to balance on his window sill and rock back and forth running risk of falling through the window and down three stories onto concrete (all upstairs windows now have bars)
Mastered going out of the house through the garage
Escaped the house repeatedly and once gone into strangers' homes, one with a gun and a big scary dog (the owner is a cop)
Tried to "help" us with Mindy by picking her up and then putting her down quickly (luckily on the couch and no harm was done)
Constantly trying to eat his hearing aid batteries/processor/anything a goat would eat
Darted in front of a car in a parking lot when Byron let go of his hand for a split second to open the car door
Has managed to get to the sharp knives no matter how high we lock them
Constantly climbed on top of books or pots on top of counters to get things too high up for his reach
Unbuckles his carseat while driving. We've gotten a new more expensive "stronger" buckle seat and it still took only days to figure that one out, too.

The bottom line is that he's a danger to himself and sometimes to others as well. So, what do we do?  Well, the pediatrician has some ideas.  I got a chance to sit and really talk to her the other day while I was taking Mindy for a visit.  She had some valid points that I hadn't considered before.  She pointed out that others in the family don't always enjoy him, but instead dread him.  No child should be dreaded.  She pointed out how it must feel to be him and feel the constant need to always be moving, touching, , running, etc.  She mentioned CJ and how much better CJ seems to feel now that we've given him medicine.  I waited eight years to allow CJ to have it, and that was hard for me, but the truth is that he is a much happier kid with it than without it.  She asked me why I'd want to make Liam wait to feel better when we could just do it now.  She had a point.

I e-mailed Liam's teachers and team at school and laid it all out for them. They spend as much time with him as I do, if not more and their opinion matters to me.  Betsy, the director of his school, responded and shared how she feels about medications in general. Like me, she avoids medicines as much as possible. She conceded that two of her four children needed medicines and now that they're adults, they can express to her how much better they feel with them than without them.  At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that she agrees it's time to try something new.

So, here I sit as his mom wanting to do anything but medicate him but knowing exactly what I need to do. It's time to try the medicines and see if we can help him with his impulse control and make him more teachable and safe. He's such a smart, happy, beautiful kid and I want for him to feel loved and included and in control of himself.  For as much as I hate the idea, I have a feeling it just might work.

In the back of my mind, I worry that people will look at us and think we're those parents who opted to drug our kid rather than parent him. We know the truth.  We've worked and tried everything under the sun. The opinions of others shouldn't matter, but they somehow sort of do.  Weird, right?  Or maybe I worry that others will view this as me accepting failure on my part to teach him right. Maybe it is a failure, but maybe it's just something Liam has to overcome and we're giving him the tools to help do that. I don't really know the answers to that one.

What I do know is that I'll be talking to the doctor tomorrow and setting up a plan that includes picking up a new prescription for a medicine to help him help himself better.  I know it's the right thing to do and I know I don't like it.  Most of all, I know that I love him more than words can say.  


  1. since he tries to eat the batteries, have you considered putting the ear gears on him? they would seriously help him keep his tiny hands off of them!
    they have one for hearing aids and CIs :)

  2. Thank you for posting this. Your Liam sounds a lot like my son and we have also been playing the waiting game. Waiting for him to be older, waiting to try a new school, waiting to try a different hearing aid setting, waiting for summer vacation.

    I really needed to read your story today.

  3. Joy,
    I'm so glad to hear that this helped someone. It's something I've known for a while, but just couldn't bring myself to do it or even talk about it out loud. I worried that people would see me as a failure or Liam as a bad kid. I don't think it's really either of those things. These are just the cards he's been dealt. Hopefully the medicine will bring the results we're wishing for.

  4. Emma-
    Thanks for the gear for ears tip. I'll look into that asap.

  5. Oh Aimee, the way you're thinking through this sounds so very similar to how I felt about one of my boys. I wasn't going to "drug" my kid! I was going to help him succeed by good parenting, structure, controlling the environment, etc.

    It took our family doctor (who I've known for over 30 years) to finally say something like, "You're doing everything you can. You have everything in place - consistency, family support, structure, etc. - and he's still not succeeding. Maybe it's time to consider trying the meds."


    Well, you've already seen with your other son how it can help.

    If it helps any, my medicated son is now 15 and off the meds. He has matured through most of his issues. Now he still has trouble staying focused on his work sometimes, but he's old enough to tell if the meds are giving him enough benefit that it's worth it to stay on them, and he's chosen to go off. If he starts struggling again, we'll try something different.

    I know sometimes kids don't "grow out of" their issues - not their fault! But some do. And for mine, I think the meds bought him the breathing space to mature and learn to manage himself better.

    You know your kiddo best!

    Wishing you well,

    Julie G

  6. Thanks so much, Julie. Sometimes the right choice is also the hardest one. We've learned that time and time again with our kids. We've also learned that the right choices also yield the most blessings.

  7. Oh, Aimee - I have tears in my eyes thinking about the struggle you must be having in your heart. These decisions are SO hard - but you have tried everything else and sometimes the medication is needed to balance things out for the little guys- You have a great, structured family and it isn't your fault or his fault - the only people who judge are people who have never been in this type of a situation.

    Sending you hugs and prayers - you have a lot of wisdom, you love your little boy, and you have a wonderful family. Don't let anyone's judgment or negative thoughts affect you - your little boy was given to you, because you were the best parent for him.