Medicating your kids

Before I had kids I had some pretty crazy ideas.
I would have never admitted it but looking back I was quite judgey.


That’s probably why I don’t judge the judgers too much, I just wait for them to do whatever it is that they are judging other mums for and then I welcome them into the club.
Do you know who gets judged to almost viscous degrees?
Mothers of children with ADHD and their kids.
Because the world still views ADHD kids as “naughty kids” instead of having a spontaneous condition and as any judgemental human will tell you, naughty kids are results of bad mothers.
Then theres people like me, I used to judge the mums of kids who were medicated for ADHD.

Mainly because in my youth I used the ADHD meds recreationally myself, buying dexamphetamines for $2 each was pretty common in my high school, you’d have ADHD kids going crazy off their meds, jingling pockets full of coins and all the bad arse bong smokers who usually didn’t bother going to school (me) now hyper focused on an English assignment, confusing times for a teacher. However I’d never forget how horrible the come down was and I couldn’t understand how someone could condemn their kid to that feeling.

Then I met my friend Freya who is that mum with the ‘badly behaved’ child, who is that mum who medicates him, who is that mum who gets judged as a “bad mum” because people are a lot more comfortable with the theory that only “bad mums” get “bad kids” than the “it could happen to anybody” theory.
Jasper is 11, when not on his medication he is constantly labeled a very naughty boy, he annoys other kids, he can not concentrate on anything he isn’t interested in, he talks while teachers talk, frustrated he can lash out, he takes pushing boundaries to another level.
Freya somehow manages to ignore people saying,
“Is he spending too much time on screens? Maybe he just needs to spend more time out doors? You need to try alternative therapies? Does he exercise enough? Some time in nature could fix that? I would never medicate my child for ADHD, I don’t believe it’s a real ‘condition,’ you call it ADHD- I call it a kid who hasn’t learnt boundaries, how could you give your son drugs to keep him quiet, he’s just spirited”
Or the teacher who asked, “have you considered taking him off sugar?” Or the other one who asked in a condescending voice, “what’s going on at home for him to behave this way?”
And embarrassingly I was the one saying “I would never give my kid amphetamines” before I had even had a kid, thinking that taking dexies at 15 somehow qualified me to advise mothers on their children’s chronic behavioural conditions.

I stay with this family all the time. They’re my sleepover family, when we can’t afford a holiday but really want one, when I need a girls night, when I am fighting with Bill, I go to their house for sleepovers, our children’s lives are intwined more like family then friends.
And because Freya leaves him free of medication on weekends I have seen first hand on many occasions how Jaspers behaviour effects his life and those around him.

The thing is, Freya has tried everything, Freya never assumed that she would be in a position where she had to medicate her son with amphetamines just to give him a normal life. She has tried alternative therapies, she moved to the country, living on 100 acres of bush that Jasper freely roams daily, she has tried radical grain free bone broth diets, he catches yabbies from the dam and eats them for dinner, she is a preservative free caterer, she tried alternative learning schools, home schooling, Freya home birthed her kids in a god dam blow up spa for fuck’s sake…she has changed his schools 3 times looking for a better fit, Jasper barely even watches TV, he plays the piano, does acting classes, Freya moved to Bali for 6 months to see if an international school and daily surfing would help.

And still…. She is judged so heavily…
The decision to medicate her son was not one made out of laziness or an inability to appreciate Jasper’s free spirit. It was made with love, for him and the children around him.

Jasper simply can not control his own behaviour, he doesn’t have the ability to think before he acts. If someone is drinking a glass of milk and he wants it he grabs it, you can yell, punish, discipline him all that you want but that is how his brain works, it doesn’t give him a chance to think before he acts and it frustrates him more than anybody. This type of impulsivity is not conducive with schooling and time and time again, Jasper is labelled naughty.

Jasper the boy who reads my children to sleep when we are there,
Jasper the boy who happily gave up his bedroom for my family over the weekend,
Jasper the boy who kept his knowledge of the Tooth Fairy being bullshit a secret from his little brother for 2 years!!! My little turds blurted to their friends within 2 minutes!!!
Jasper who protects his younger cousins from school bullies.

After years of educating herself Freya’s conclusion was that Jas needs his meds while at school, he gets a break on the weekends when she can monitor him, if he wants an education, if he wants a chance at life, if he wants to lower the possibility of ending up in prison, she believes he needs his medication. The other night over a bottle of wine she said to me,
“Do people think I want to give my son speed in order to help him? I fucking hate it but it’s my only option of keeping him in school”
And what makes this form of judging even more annoying? Freya doesn’t judge any mum. Ever.

ADHD needs awareness, these kids aren’t little arseholes, they are golden hearted kids, fighting a constant battle with themselves, deserving the same bright future that all shiny little warriors deserve only it feels out of reach when constant “naughty kids” labels are thrown around.

Children aren’t born cruel, when Frey enters a class to explain to them what Jas has going on they immediately go from being annoyed by his behaviour to being inclusive and compassionate when he gets in trouble.
Compassion makes the world go round.

I don’t judge anyone who medicates their children anymore, I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t either.
If we are lucky enough to not have to make the decision between drugs and education it’s our job to support and learn from those who do.

Love Con

  1. Profile photo of Joanne
    Joanne 11 months ago

    Thankyou, this has opened my eyes, I have a daughter that can be difficult and people are always telling me that she has adhd( it doesn’t affect her schooling) and I have always been 100% against it and quite judgey of mothers who do, my eyes have been opened.

  2. Profile photo of SairBear
    SairBear 11 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing Con. I too like many other fabulous queens was quite judgemental (though I didn’t know it at the time) & seemed to have an answer for everything children pre actually having a child myself. In a way Im grateful to now have the humility to see this naive but not ill-intentioned thought process pre kidlets as it helps me to better appreciate the queens out there who have not yet started having little warriors of their own giving their heavy handed opinions of something they have no flogging idea about. Despite myself having a rough trott I am presently only blessed with 1 x lil wild at heart free spirited princess warrior & I take my hat off to ALL mumma bears out there how do what they can for their kidlets & extra love & affection to those who are blessed with warriors that have additional xhallenges to face.
    Love & strength to all Queen Mumma Bears out there 👑💖😙

  3. Profile photo of Kate Hart
    Kate Hart 11 months ago

    Beautiful piece.
    After reading your stories, it has brought me so much comfort knowing there are other mothers (in fcking perth?!) that I can totally relate too.
    Thank you!

  4. Profile photo of Bridget
    Bridget 11 months ago

    Great read. I sometimes wonder if my girl is adhd, then I realise she is just high spirited and loves life. Sometimes I curb her enthusiasm but most of the time I just see that that is her and I love her with an obsession. The thought of a child having to deal with a come down is a little to much for me to want to medicate a child, but if these mothers have to, well they have to. Thanks for the article, I will put my judgyness aside 🙂

    • Profile photo of Faeriefyre
      Faeriefyre 11 months ago

      @Bridget – and ALL of the other Queens!

      I am a 41 year old Mum of a little boy with ADHD/Autism and a host of other issues.

      It wasn’t until we were walking the diagnosis path – that I realised that a LOT of what he did – also reflected me.

      So – I got a diagnosis! And I am medicated!

      I take up to 6 Dexies in a day – 2 would send the ADHD person on a little flight – me – it barely touches the sides of my issues.

      Let me tell you ladies – there IS no comedown when your child NEEDS the medication. When it works for them – it really does what it’s meant to do – this is NOT a “party drug” for us sufferers – it doesn’t turn us into zombies – actually it makes the world make sense. It helps us “breathe” – makes the brain slow down to a single thought we can concentrate on and follow rules and procedures like our peers!9

      Yes – sadly one of the worst side effects is that it ups my anxiety – so I have to be on an anti-Anxiety medication as well to combat that little effect – but is it worth it? Oh hells yes!

      Don’t penalise your child by restricting them from what they need to survive – if they were diabetic would you not use insulin? The diabetic body does not create its own – and thus needs chemical intervention – let me assure and promise you that it’s the same for your ADHD child! They don’t have the chemicals in their brain to allow them to do the same as their peers! Help them – stop punishing them

      • Profile photo of Faeriefyre
        Faeriefyre 11 months ago

        Gah – stupid phone

        It should read:

        I am on up to 6 Dexies a day – where 2 would send the _NON_ ADHD person on a joyride!

  5. Profile photo of Jessica Ballinger
    Jessica Ballinger 11 months ago

    Thank you so much for this! My oldest daughter has ADHD, and I struggled with the same feelings of skepticism and outright disbelief that you described above. I remember before the diagnosis- I felt so horrible because we just could not connect. I have this clear memory of telling my friends that I didn’t think I had the tools I needed to connect with her, to deal with her. She was fighting all the time to keep her impulsivity in check, to focus, and her emotions were all SO BIG that she was always unhappy. It’s night and day the difference now- when we have a name for what’s going on, and methods to help her, and yes, medication, but most importantly, as you said above, COMPASSION.

    Thank you. <3

  6. Profile photo of Rodger Owen
    Rodger Owen 11 months ago

    Another great post, Con. It’s always easy to find fault with others. It’s also easy to believe that you know what the right answer is. The difficult thing is to accept that the person who has the problem has already frantically done so much to try to fix the situation. Another difficult thing is to be pragmatic about it – to have the empathy to such a degree to honesty say that you fully understand and appreciate all the things the other person is experiencing. You know, to know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. Some few people do – they’ve been there. They might have the answer – if there is an answer. Usually, the best things to do, the only things to do, are to have a sympathetic ear, be available to provide the desired help, and to not be contemptuous with a holier-than-thou judging attitude. But, it’s hard – practically inhuman!

  7. Profile photo of Kylee
    Kylee 11 months ago

    Well written, I went through all these thoughts and feelings when we decided to medicate my son.

    Best thing we ever did life is so much better that my son has control over his behaviour.

  8. Profile photo of Jenny
    Jenny 11 months ago

    My son was diagnosed ADHD in year 1, I tried everything to keep from medicating him but he was falling further & further behind in class – I could deal with his behaviour at home but he was disruptive and unable to concentrate in class, passing the ADHD test was like a kick in my guts. I told the pediatrician I didn’t want him medicated to such a degree that he was a zombie, I wanted the spark that was my son to still shine through. We’d been doing the readers for months with no improvement, the day he started on 1/2 a ritalin – that night, he read the reader book to me, it was all I could do not to burst into tears. My fighting to keep him off medication, and he had really needed it! We only medicated him on school days too, allowing him a weekend of being himself. He is now a first year plumbers apprentice and was the only boy in his TAFE class to pass all his tests first time round this term (his first term). For high school we chose the local Catholic boys school and while the teacher that interviewed us in year 10 wasn’t keen on allowing him to continue to year 12 somehow he got to continue – he was still on his medication and while he didn’t sit for an ATAR he proved to himself and that teacher that he had what it took to stick it out. He finished his exam and signed out of school on the Friday and started his plumbers apprentice job on the Monday. He hasn’t stayed on the medication although I did try, but he’s now 18 and he is happy and succeeding in his chosen career, what more could a parent want?

  9. Profile photo of Julie
    Julie 11 months ago

    I bloody love you site. I have a friend who is following you and she tagged me in and now I just love it. Medicating your child is me. I do this for my son who has autism/ADHD , duplication syndrome. I never wanted him on Ritalin but it has been everyone’s and his saving grace so to speak. Without it he has told me that his brain goes to fast and doesn’t like it. He is almost 11 but, Over the passed 9years, there have been so many people I could have head bunted and some, I still wish I had of.
    Thanks for your site and big thanks to my beautiful friend for showing me.

  10. Profile photo of CT.Christina
    CT.Christina 11 months ago

    Thank you! I am one of these moms. The judgement is so difficult to deal with. My ten year old boy is mildly autistic to boot, as if the ADHD wasn’t enough. He started with developmental delays and still struggles to connect with people, but without the meds, he’s unruly and loud. I got the question just this last weekend from another mom. “There were kids like that when we were in school. They weren’t medicated and labeled…” And I know that’s technically not a question, but really it was. I don’t know where we’d be without the drugs. It’s nice to read something so nonjudgy.

  11. Profile photo of kelbel
    kelbel 11 months ago

    I am the mum who was completely skeptical of ADHD being real …until my own son came along and turned our world upside-down. Diagnosed at 6 after yrs of OTT impulsive behaviour etc (with me asking myself “is this normal boy behaviour?” after having 2 girls).. He is 11yrs this month and is currently taking only Concerta to manage it but had been taking both Ritalin and Concerta earlier on in his dx. I never thought I would ever need to medicate my children. He is a wonderful loving boy that just needs some understanding and to those who judge, judge away. 🙂

  12. Profile photo of Sheena
    Sheena 11 months ago

    Love this post! My Son is 8 and has Autism/ADHD/ODD. Currently we are not medicating but there is always that chance of having to start. It is great to know I am not the only one who struggles with the decisions and the judgmental people. We have a friend of ours who always comments how he could “fix” him if he had him for a week. Sorry he isn’t broken and cannot be fixed. My son has a bright future and want to be a scientist and I wish everyone could see his potential like his dad and I do.

  13. Profile photo of Tania
    Tania 11 months ago

    Thanks so much for this. I’m a mum of two beautiful unique kids, both on the autism spectrum and both suffering from ADHD. I can’t even begin to tell you how much redicule and criticism I have faced because of the medication issue! Soo nice to have someone in our corner for a change.

  14. Profile photo of Lisa
    Lisa 11 months ago

    At 16 years of age I gave birth to my first child, a boy! I wasn’t at all prepared for the journey ahead – I had no idea whatsoever what having a baby was all about. I hadnt even held a baby before, let alone changed ones nappy etc etc etc. I of course got the help I needed from my mum (although she limited her help intentionally for my own good – which had she not, I probably would have turned out to be a non existent mum). 7 years later, my sons teacher suggested I have him ‘checked’ for ADHD – of course I had no idea what it was – she explained to me that his behaviour in class were, in her opinion, characteristics of an ADD child. To me, being a naive, young, first time mum, I thought my sons behaviour was how all boys were. Back then you usually ended up on a two year waiting list to be seen by a specialist. Luckily I was ‘fast tracked’ through a health service provider, if I recall right the specialist asked me some questions in regards to my son and did a few aptitude type tests on my son then sent me home with a prescription and dose instructions for Ritalin – if it helped him, then it meant he had ADD – in his case, he had ADHD as he was overly ‘hypo’. Ritalin was awesome for my son at school and like others, I also kept him drug free during weekends. He stayed on Ritalin for 2 years, and he knew when he needed it – if he played up, he’d say to me “I haven’t had my pill” or he’d know when he needed a pill – his dr increased his afternoon dosage as it was wearing off too soon. Unfortunately after 2 years he became – what I would call – immune to Ritalin, it no longer seemed to have an effect. So I stopped giving it to him. After another year or so we thought we’d give it another go but by this time Ritalin was no longer being subsidised and a new drug, Rubefin, was what he was prescribed, this stuff gave my son a constant ‘chip on his shoulder’ – we managed to get a slightly subsidised Ritalin script which was now ‘working’ again but once again a year or so later the Ritalin no longer worked. When I used to have to explain to people that my son had ADHD, I was always made to feel like it was just an excuse. My son came under the care of many specialist type organisations (pshycologists,special education etc) who were all trying to ‘fix’ him. One woman came to my house once to discuss ways we could help my son and different things (systems) we could try, like not yelling at him, not doing this, not doing that. So we tried but boy was it hard but it didn’t work anyway, if anything it made him worse. The woman returned a couple of weeks later to see how things were going, she didn’t seem at all impressed when we told her. She said we weren’t trying etc. I asked her if she had any kids, “no” was her response. How dare you sit there with all your textbook knowledge and tell me how to bring up my fuckn kid and tell me how I’m doing it wrong when you don’t have any fuckn kids!!!! Of course that’s what I wanted to say, but I just said ‘so you couldn’t possibly understand then’ she blabbed on about something about her knowledge but I was too angry to listen – never saw her again. Unfortunately my story doesn’t have a great ending. My son was suspended from school numerous times from the age of 11 and eventually expelled at age 14 where he tried an alternative school but was also ‘let go’ from there. Around that time he discovered ‘weed’ which helped him (ADHD wise) in a similar way to Ritalin. Since the age of 17 my son has been in and out of prison too many times to count – he is now 28 and only on weed. One thing I can say about my son is he is very caring and is emotionally very sensitive. What I find interesting is that through my sons diagnosis we discovered that my brother and father were also ADHD. The thing that amuses me is that I brought my son up totally different to how my mum brought my brother up – there were more restrictions, limitations etc with my mum (don’t forget I was 16 and didn’t want to be a bitchy mother, I wanted to be a cool mum – of course I now know my mum did the best that anyone could as a mum and she was an awesome mum) yet my brother and son (13 years age difference) are exactly the same in every single way except physical appearance – right down to the school suspensions, expulsion, prison time and even their crimes. So if I am a ‘bad’ mum and I know personally that my mum was a ‘good’ mum, then how do you explain how two males with different upbringings can turn out exactly alike????

  15. Profile photo of Abram de Bruyn
    Abram de Bruyn 11 months ago

    Totally behind the heartfelt thoughts here on with-holding judgement of mothers based on their children. I don’t have a lot of experience with ADHD kids but I definitely fall on the side of “medication as a last resort” much like the parents filling these comments who’ve struggled with that decision.

    To Freya and Jasper I wonder what types of school alternatives they had access to. I read another commenter who’s decision to medicate relieved the aggressive symptoms (no more bites and scratches from her son), but this doesn’t seem to describe Jasper. My point is that it seems to me that Jasper’s behavior is more about his “order of processing” actions – our society is dominated by a Think-Feel-Act pattern, but there are other ways of being too. Reading his description I thought, I have amazing friends who grew up the same way, whose pattern is Act-Feel-Think, and who weren’t able to be themselves until they were free of school. Now they are thriving in ways that others envy. Put simply: we need people like Jasper and I hope he knows that!

    Full disclosure: I am a Philosophy of Education scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University. I am also deeply involved in the model of education which tries to recognize different archetypes and ways of being. Some of Larry Byram’s ideas are built into our own teacher/facilitator training certification.

    Hope this post doesn’t come off as Judgey. Not saying that Jasper (or others) would not need medication if he were at a ‘better’ school. I am saying that it is a pity that on top of everything else there is the fears of being labelled ‘broken’ etc for ADHD kids with or without medication.


  16. Profile photo of Amy G
    Amy G 11 months ago

    Another awesome post Con!!!
    I went through the medication battle with my kid..he was diagnosed with Autism at 18 months old and then ADHD a year later.. now im all for medicating your child IF they need it… IF u have tried other ways… and im so glad your friend did all she could for her child… when i was told my baby boy who was 3 years old needed to be on Ritalin i cried.. WHAT!!!!! im not giving my baby drugs…NO WAY!!!! what pissed me off is that i had not been offered other ways of helping him.. yes he was violent and the meltdowns were extreme but how could my baby need this stuff. Being a single mum i had to make this decision on my own… and fuck it was hard.. so i got the drug.. painfully gave it to my son and within a few hours of giving it to him yeah he was calm.. really really calm.. and i knew then that it was too early to be giving him the drug.. as a reformed party drug user i could literally feel what he was feeling.. he was so drugged up that yeah he was calm…but he also had lost his “spark” he was just limp and it was like the life was sucked out of him.. that was the first and only time i gave my son Ritalin… after that i did EVERYTHING possible to help him.. now almost 8 he is a different kid.. he has his moments. . But i control his behaviour with gluten free and sugar free (as much as possible) diet.. and thank god its working… so my point here for anyone reading is that yes..yes sometimes your kids do need medicating.. even as adults we do!!!! I don’t think i would survive without my xanax!!! But reading how much effort your dear friend put into helping her child before medicating makes me so happy.. because not all kids need it.. but then again.. maybe they do!! Don’t be afraid to try new approaches.. and don’t let your doctor push u into the meds either!!!! As long as your putting your child first.. and u know in your heart your doing the best u can.. that makes for the best parent a child can have!!!!

  17. Profile photo of jae tame
    jae tame 11 months ago

    wonderful wise words. Compassion is key – for everyone around us, we are all different, we are all here for a really tiny time. Be open, be kind . Thank you for this article.

  18. Profile photo of HandleWithCoffee
    HandleWithCoffee 9 months ago

    Oh, dear, I’ve been judging the judgers hard. I’ll work on that. Tomorrow, maybe.

    All my love to Freya and her spirited boy. Similar story here as many posted above, tons of lifestyle changes, but didn’t move to Bali! Wow!

    Took daughter off dairy and gluten when she was young, trying ANYTHING to help her. Was cutting a pear. “Mommy, does that have milk in it?” No, city girl, it’s a FRUIT. And you can have it.

    I will say that all the interventions, counseling, and yes, dealing with med stigma, has made my daughter a much more self aware and kind person than some of her peers.

  19. Profile photo of Becstar
    Becstar 6 months ago

    I am siting at work tearing up from this article, as a mum of a child with ADHD this has been the hardest journey. I have been judged, blamed, scrutinised and gossiped about. I have had the finger pointed at my parenting, the food I gave my kid, the sport he was in and at the partner I was with (just to name a few) My son is now 13, unmedicated for about 5 years. I got to a point where I was sick and tired of everyones opinions and knew that I knew my son best and did what I thought was right,…..this is just a snippet from my journey. I love the that this article points out the judgment that comes with having a child with ADHD. And also the child is more then the label. I am so proud of the young man my son is turning out to be. Thanks Queens,..and Thankyou Con xx

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