A distressed dad sat in my office, tears in his eyes, describing the last two years of his life. His 15-year-old son, Joey, started having problems at 13 years of age—poor school performance, lying, hanging out with troubled friends, anger, and breaking house rules. This semester was going a little better, but he was worried. After the turmoil of the last two years, he was waiting for the other shoe to drop—a telephone call from the school, Joey not coming home on time, or a screaming, yelling episode. He felt bad. He had lost whatever parental confidence he had gained during Joe’s... Read More
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Based on a survey conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), a recent article in the New York Times (March 31) reported that according to this study 11% of school children have received a diagnosis of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).They also found that nearly 20% of high school age boys were diagnosed with ADHD.
This dramatic increase in this diagnosis has resulted in the doubling of prescriptions for ADHD medications from 2007 to 2012. Last year, $9 billion was spent on stimulant medications!
This striking growth in the diagnosis of ADHD has... Read More
When I was a child, I enjoyed our family meals. In my family, everyone was a big talker. It was hard to get a word in edgewise! Everyone had something to say about just about everything! My mom was a great cook, so we all enjoyed her home cooked meals. In the 1950’s when I was growing up, fast food hadn’t been served yet. We had many sit down meals every week. Believe it or not, a big treat was something brand new-- TV dinners! Frozen in aluminum trays, and heated in the oven, we did something revolutionary at the time. We watched our small black and white television while eating our... Read More
Recently I was talking to a parent, Joe, who was concerned about his spirited 9 year old, Sarah. She loves to debate with her parents—“Why should I put away my toys? No, I don’t want to stop playing with the phone!” She doesn’t usually respond to his first request. Her parents have to repeat themselves several times, and even then they get an argument! Sarah and her parents get into frequent power struggles. Guess who usually wins?
I was reminded about my youngest daughter, Naomi, who was a spirited child. Mary Lou Kurcinka wrote two great books about kids like her—“Kids, Parents... Read More
I read a recent essay titled, “Sliver of Sky: Confronting the trauma of sexual abuse” by Barry Lopez, a well-known author, published in the January 2013 issue of Harpers. It is well worth reading, but I must warn you, it is painful.
Mr. Lopez chronicles his childhood, as a young boy growing up in California. His parents divorced, his mother was befriended by a psychopath, masquerading as a physician in a hospital for substance abusers. The author describes the years of sexual abuse he endured by this authority figure. It is an extraordinarily honest and frank description of his... Read More
Ask any adult—they remember every detail about being picked on, called names, or bullied as a youngster. My middle brother was overweight as a child—he recalled kids who would mock him—“Joseph, Joseph two by four, can’t fit through the bathroom door!” I remember children who would make fun of my last name and add a four-letter expletive to the end of it. I still remember being pushed down when I was 13 years old by a bigger kid. All of his friends snickered and laughed at my humiliation. I don’t think anyone ever forgets these encounters.
These experiences are painful as a child—but... Read More
Self-doubt is a regular visitor in adult life—most often an unwelcome guest at our emotional table.
As a parent, self-doubt is our constant companion! It starts when they are infants. What does it mean when Sarah cries? Is she hungry? Wet? Uncomfortable? Fortunately, there are only a few choices at 1 month old! So, our best friend is trial and error. Eventually, we get it right.
When my oldest was born, she decided to stay up all night and sleep during the day. Our young pediatrician told us not to let her cry— instead feed her, pick her up, soothe her, or change her. This... Read More
A recent article in the New York Times (1/13/13) reviewed the literature on the value of bribery in child rearing. You know the drill—if you stay in your seat for 5 more minutes, stop fighting with your little sister, or stop crying you can have an ice cream sundae for dessert—or some variation on that theme.
All parents resort to bribery in moments of crisis. I remember when my 3-year-old spirited child needed a monthly blood test. I quickly determined that a chocolate bar administered orally during the blood test would result in a better outcome. It worked like a charm!
But... Read More
Every generation is unlike the one before it. We were raised in a different time than our children, by different people with different cultural imperatives. Thirty five years ago, life was nothing like today. It was the late 1970’s—no cell phones, no email, no smartphones, and we were coming out of a deep recession (actually pretty close to today!). There were fewer two working families, fewer single parent families, and life was simpler and slower.
Now the blended family, of mine, yours, and ours is commonplace. But how to manage these changes is not. Our understanding of child... Read More
Recently, I have been hearing from many parents concerned about their 17-21 year old sons.
“Joe doesn’t seem to be motivated to complete his college applications!” his mom complained. Bill, in this second year of college, has no clue what to major in. Tom, finished up community college last summer. He has no idea what he wants to do. Max finished college last summer—living at home, his idea of job hunting is 180 degrees different than his parents. He stays up late playing video games and surfing the net and gets up late. His parents don’t know what to do.
On the other hand,... Read More