Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shriver Report answers why so many kids are on meds

This report is getting a lot of press coverage.

"When we look back over the 20th century and try to understand what has happened to workers and their families, the movement of women out of the home and into paid employment stands out as one of the most important transformations. Workplaces are no longer the domain of men: Women now make up half (49.8 percent) of employer's payrolls. Quite simply, women employed outside the home changes everything. We need to ensure that everyone—men and women, parents and non-parents alike—is able to meet the challenges of the workplace, while being able to provide care for their family. We need new ground rules that recognize this transformation."

Sure. That's all fine and good. Our society should not be organized to prevent anyone from exercising their full choice and opportunity in life. Somehow the government will raise our children.

Each of us has a limit. There is only so much we can do.

If a couple has a couple children, they have obligated themselves to role of parenting. That will, one way or another, require time and effort.

That means each parent will have to give up on some potential futures in order to decently follow the future to which they have committed: to raise their children.

If, and when, they don't parent in the right way, the children will inevitably end up suffering.
This may be in the form of some behaviors or moods. It may be in the form of children who are not able to have good connections with others, or who feel like they cannot ultimately trust others. Or who become over-responsible, and miss out on the fun and learning that is supposed to happen in childhood and adolescence: the adult role fast-forwards them too quickly into the adult role, versus the more normal, optimal pace.

Mom and Dad get home from their self-actualizing, fulfilling, rewarding, humanitarian jobs, and get the kids from daycare, or out to tsoccer practice or whatever, and wrestle with time to deal with meals, and homework, and household tasks, and the time to just enjoy the family is not there.

Unless we all buy into the idea that it is some strident political demand that all parents work, and that somehow the government, or somebody else- not us- is responsbile for what I am declaring is the inevitable.

So, when a child is "raised" without much order in the home, without much face-time, without much loving discipline, with the reality that they are a hassle to their parents' lives, and they later start acting out, or acting-in, we have our easy answer:

Enter the head shrinker.

Judging by the numbers, things are working out really well for the head-shrinkers. Society has asked them to provide an answer in lieu of decent parenting, and they have obliged.
They have given us answers that all sound very profesisonal, and have three-dot-two digit codes, and are paid by the health insurance we have at our awesome, self-actualizing career jobs, and come with a remedy: pills.

How's that working out for you, mom?

Even worse: the insistence on self-fulfillment, equality, etc., as a political dogma has led to the many single-parent homes - if two adults have a challenge raising two kids, how is one gonna do it even better?

Again, the head-shrinker steps in and picks up the burden.

We don't have to face the truth, never questions until [google "cultural hegemony"], that parent-child time matters. That we are pursuing our self-actualization, and whatever else it is we get from our job, at the price of our children's well-being.

So we medicate the child, and take some of that precious money received from our self-actualizing job, and buy the kid off. Give them toys, phones, computers, whatever. To show them we love them.

If love of money is the root of all evil, think of how bad it is to take your money and use that to show your love.

To some of us, the relation between decreases in quality parent-child time, and the rising rates of "child psychopathology," is a no-brainer.

This is really clear to those of us who remembe what society was like befoer every women had to work -- not just chose towork, or took a great opportunity to work -- but HAD to work in order to be a full human, not that 3/5 of a human designated for slave-census count.

Get out of th house or you are oppressed. Or you are supporting the oppression of women. Sure, you get a choice. Choose to get out of the house, or esociety will label you as the oppressed supporting the oppressor. Never mind the children's welfare - we have oppression to deal with here. You choose to stay at home? Sorry, wrong answer. You must be [fill-in-the-blank].

So, plot this victorious, self-actualizing, liberating trend of no one being at home, and our rising incomes, our rising average size of the family car, the average size of the family home, etc., and map it out with the level of children who have "child psychopathology."

Is it glaringly obvious to you now?

No. Because they keep telling us: "these are biologically based brain disorders."

And they tell us the pills work.

And when the pills eventually FAIL to work, to make things right, they have an answer: lets' up the dose; or augment; or change meds; or do combo therapy; or prescribe off-label; or jump on the next bandwagon for the next diagnosis with [fill-in-the-blank-with-diagnoses-du-jour: "child bipolar," child schizophrenia;" "sensory integration disorder," "ADHD," "hyperactivity," "ADD," "zinc definciency," "fatty acid deficiency," "food allergy," etc.].

What works? What really works? Sure, some kids get better on the meds. But MOST DON'T.

Go ask the front-line staff who really know. Go ask the "psych techs" that work at child treatment centers what will make your child improve.

They will tell you: attention, special time, and loving discipline. That's it.

Sorry, you can't do that and spend 60 hours per week self-actualizing through your career job.

Sorry. This is not some civil rights battle. You won't win it with Maria Shriver's calls for equal-pay laws, or paternity leave.

If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you are a civil rights activist, everything looks like a civil rights case. If you are a politician, everything looks like it needs a law to set it right. The govt will not come up with anything that will parent better than a parent.

Well, kids are neither a civil rights cause nor a policy recommendation. They are kids. Devote special time to them regularly. At least a couple times a week, if not daily.

Arrange your budget and your lifestyle. Get out of your car loans. Get out of the marble-counter-top house. Move to a less-expensive part of the country, where you can still find your self-actualizing career job, but have a modest portion of your income go to house payment. Quit eating out - cook WITH your kids. Turn off the TV. turn everything off.

How do I know? I have worked with a lot of kids and families. All the "diagnoses." All the pills. Until you see it, you will not believe it. The look of pleasant surprise when I have strongly recommended that parents follow Forehand, or Barkley, or any of the other evidence-based child interventions, and start spending quality time with their child.

In the therapy office, I bring this up, and the child's face lights up. In two weeks, thing are getting much better.

Unless the parent does not agree to follow. And the child looks crest-fallen. Betrayed. "Dad said he would [fill-in-the-blank], and he didn't. And the counselor has made him admit it. He can't hide, and ignore, like he does to me. And now the counselor is sending me out of the room - because the counselor is about to get Daddy in trouble."

And finally: how self-actualizing is that job? Do you really reap that much dignity, compared to making peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and an endless cycle of cleaning up messes? How much have you contributed to humanity with your 60-hour work weeks, at the sacrifice of your child's well-being? The truth is you are working partly to pay for a decent car, so you can ride to work, and away from your child, in style.

So, as they release this Maria Shriver report about how horrible it is that not all women are working at self-actualizing jobs, let's put in our minds these sky-rocketing rates of child "psychopathology," and the skyrocketing delivery of psych meds to our kids, and let's try to figure out what battle we really want to fight.


herb said...

Hi doc (Medsvstherapy),

I first shall apologize for my off topic remark as I recently read your comment to Dawdy’s posting of “By Popular Demand”.

“Arguing with someone who hass a bipolar dx: not the best idea.” --- Medsvstherapy

By Popular Demand

I should be surprised by such a comment but then again the older I get I’ve learned I’m surprised by very little these days. Of interest to me were several factors in your comment one of which was you’re being a mental health professional and the nature of your response to the issue. I often state there are doctors, good doctors and better doctors. And better doctors, in my opinion, not necessarily meaning one with all the pedigrees and peer accolades but one who is truly caring, attentive to the patient seated before him/her and able to have achieved some degree of wellness for the patient as well as what appeared to me to be a casual and brief remark which did not sit well with me.

The other point being Dawdy and what I consider his herd of worshippers so venomously intent and with tunnel vision constantly intent upon protecting their belief systems and dogma that not one person expressed an affront to that which you stated. Quite frankly there are many who regularly participate in his forum who have expressed serious mood disorders with or without dx; are they too not to be reasoned with as “the best idea” which now brings me back to your comment.

I don’t believe that “arguing” is a proper approach but attempting to reason and/or sharing one’s differences of opinion for purposes of enlightenment would be more reasonable. Having a dx of bipolar or other serious mood disorder rule out discussing issues with an individual? Am I also to presume your arms length remark included a personal consultation and evaluation and established the other individual incapable of rational thought?

Sometimes even reasoning with someone without a dx or mood disorder is “not the best idea” but then again one would truly have to know the individual or were you at arms length making some kind of dx of one of the individuals?

Sorry, but while Dawdy and his herd totally overlooked your remark in their rabid fervor I didn’t and I thought it certainly improper without further qualifications on your part.


MedsVsTherapy said...

i pretty much agree -- my posts are usually long because it is so easy to have things come across the wrong way; insensitive, uninformed, etc. my idea was that as you start entering into some heated debate with someone, and you find out there is a decent chance they might be in a manic mood, or at least hypomanic -- well, just let it go - you probably won't get very far in helping someone see your point, or learning something new.

a friend comes to mind. as soon as discussions turn a bit irrational, i back off of any discussion. usually i learn that yes, he was getting hypomanic.

so, to me, it seems kind of foolish to get very far in an email exchange with someone who declares they have bipolar disorder. my comment did not come across well.

now, upon being called-out, i think i may just let sleeping dogs lie, rather than make an apology on that comment to the FS audience in general, and maybe stir things up worse.

In the meantime, if you want, check out the Shriver report and post comments if you have them. It covers a lot of ground, and acknowledges a range of views.

herb said...

Dear Doc,

Thanks for your heads up on A Woman’s Nation. I just read briefly into Maria Shriver’s introduction but more importantly I sent the information on to a close friend who is a retired educational PhD currently active as President of a local chapter of AAUW (American Association of University Women) and International Women’s Day. I guess I’m a little ahead of this report as I’m regularly invited to their activities to do their photography and I get a chance to listen to many educated and accomplished women presenters and their take, encouragement and inspiration on achieving their goals and aspirations as well as the challenges they faced also parenting their children.

I’m sure my friend will find this piece exceptionally interesting and when time allows I’ll get into reading the 454 pages. One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t effectively be all over the place at once and I’d rather concentrate on my niches although there is no doubt in my mind if one cares to raise reasonably healthy children both mentally and physically important decisions have to made especially as to devoting reasonable amounts of time to nurturing one’s offspring and this is not to mean schtupping one’s children with money and material things in lieu of important together time for such things as hugging, kissing, reading, discussions, homework, bedtime and the like.

Women want equality and are slowly achieving their goals and as you are apparently intimating at what cost to the next generation of Americans?

You’ve more than reasonably and satisfactorily answered my original communication and yes letting sleeping dogs lie in this situation is appropriate. I indicated previously they are rabidly possessed of their belief systems and dogma and their tunnel vision obviates their disabilities to see beyond themselves as they were totally blinded and missed your remark.