Medicate Our ADHD Child?

What to do when you say yes and your spouse says no.

ADHD relationships advice: What to do when you say yes and your spouse says no about medicating your child. ADDitude Magazine

Family conflict can mean a major crisis for you and your child.

Larry Silver, M.D.

You and your son's doctor believe that he should be on medication, but your spouse refuses: "There's nothing wrong with my son. I won't let you put him on medication."

Your parents or in-laws insist that there is nothing wrong with their granddaughter: "You just need to be more firm with her."

You are divorced and have shared custody. Your ex refuses permission for you to administer medication, or even threatens to go to court to stop you from giving it to your child.

Raising a child or adolescent with ADHD is not an easy task. Ideally, both parents participate in the evaluation process. The physician explains to them in person what ADHD is, how the diagnostic process works, and why medication may be necessary.

Thus, both are committed to the line of recommended treatment, and they can rely on each other for support. But too often, the reality looks more like one of the scenarios above.

Family conflict can mean a major crisis for you and your child. Parents often try to dodge the problem. "Don't tell dad that you're taking these pills" or "When you visit grandma, don't let her know about your medicine." But such approaches place your child in a difficult position. She might begin to think that there is something wrong about the fact that she takes medication. Or she might feel that she is being asked to lie to her father. And in the case of divorce, not only does the child feel caught in the middle, but she'll be off her medication when visiting your ex on weekends or vacations. Is there a solution?

Try talking first

I have faced these problems many times in my practice. If both parents weren't involved in the diagnosis or if the ex refused to participate, you must try to educate the person who wasn't there.

In person: I'll invite this person to come in to discuss any concerns or fears. On occasion, I have met with grandparents, along with both parents (or parent and ex), to explain what ADHD is and why there is a need for medication.

On the phone: If a parent refuses to meet with me, I might call and say, "I understand that you are uneasy with the idea of Billy taking medication. May I try to answer your questions or address your concerns?" It's hard for the parent to run away once you have him on the line.

Reading material: Another option: Find a book that clearly explains ADHD and its treatments. You might highlight key chapters or sections before giving the book to this person to read. Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on ADHD is a good place to start.

Next: Healthy ADDitude, Part 2

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