Are parents responsible for their kids' ADHD?

I don't like taking medicine nor do I like giving it to my children unless absolutely necessary. I've always thought that way too many doctors in this country are too quick to prescribe medication as the first solution to any ailment. It should come as no surprise, then, that three million children in the U.S. use prescription drugs to help them focus. While I'm sure many of them have legitimate needs, I think a whole bunch of them would be better off with some other form of treatment. But many parents--and doctors--don't want to hear that.

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A recent Op-Ed piece on The New York Times titled "Ritalin Gone Wrong" has dared to go there, ensuing a fierce debate. Psychologist Dr. L Alan Sroufe, who's done extensive ADHD research, asks whether these drugs really work and what parents' roles are in the diagnosis of ADHD--infuriating many doctors and parents in the process. You see, many believe Dr. Sroufe is blaming parents for their children's ADHD and they're not happy.

A lot of parents have taken what Dr. Sroufe has said as a personal attack on their parenting practices. Others, including the president of the Child Mind Institute, say that making parents responsible perpetuates the notion of "blame and shame" for which this country is so well-known. 

But Dr. Sroufe presents a lot of great arguments and data that prove--at least to me--that the drugs prescribed for this disorder don't really work. Furthermore, he spends a lot of time debunking the idea that ADHD is "inborn" and suggests instead that a child's early experiences and his environment might have a lot more to do with this disorder.

I don't have a child with ADHD, so I'm not going to pretend I know what that's like. But if I did, I know I'd want to make sure he wasn't just getting drugged into oblivion or being transformed into an unrecognizable person in an attempt to achieve "normalcy."

I believe wholeheartedly that we're an "instant gratification" kind of society. We always wants the easy way out, instead of being really honest with ourselves--something extremely difficut to do--and tackling our issues head-on. Maybe that's why so many parents feel insulted by Dr. Sroufe's opinion piece.

Do you think medications are prescribed too easily in this country? Do you have a child with ADHD? Tell us if his medication has helped him/her or not.

 Image via Lawrence Braun/flickr