What would Jesus do with a child with ADHD? This has been my question for the last seven years. I honestly thought of ADHD as a made up diagnosis for parents of boys who didn’t know how to discipline. As an RN I am more comfortable with medical diagnoses that can be tested and treated in a more concrete way. Then God blessed me with CT. He has brought so much energy, fun, and heartache all at once. He has humbled me and opened my eyes to this real struggle.
I actually said when he was an infant that “God knew I needed a calm child” because he was my fourth. Little did I know that just 6 months later his true personality would begin to emerge (and that we would add a fifth…but that’s another story). CT has been such a challenge and an eye opener as we began to enter the world of ADHD. If there really is a way to rate ADHD he would be severe, I have no doubt. As CT matured we kept thinking he would outgrow traits including no impulse control, no attention, and unending energy. Let’s just list the items he has broken in the last 7 years:
garage door, glass front door with a sippy cup!, 2 wooden cabinet doors, 3 ipads, eyeglasses, countless holes in the walls and actual walls, blinds, drums, chairs, vacuum, endless amounts of headphones, and overflowed an upstairs toilet to name only a few.
Long story short, when this didn’t happen I began to panic. I researched to deal with the loss of control ….and I locked in on ADHD. This was my child! It was like finding a tribe of people related to CT. They gave me a glimpse into how my son’s brain worked and how he felt. CT has been very delayed in speech and I wanted desperately to understand how he felt and what he needed. But then I flashed back to all the children I had dispensed ADHD medication to as a school nurse. Is this his life? Going to the school nurse every lunch to swallow a pill just to function?
So I read everything I could get my hands on about alternative treatments for ADHD. I did not want to make my child a zombie and remove that incredible personality. Because let’s face it, CT’s personality is incredible! I wanted my CT to still be CT, crazy and all. I stressed so much about making the right decision for my son. We tried diet changes and oils first, but they didn’t make a dent. So reluctantly we decided to try Focalin. I was really worried about it, but when a friend said, “you can always stop giving it to him if you don’t like what it does to him”, I calmed down.
This was not a permanent decision and I could change my mind. How freeing is that? I kept viewing my role as a parent as finding the right path for my child and sending them down it. This is true, but there is so much pressure in that if you consider the path to include what to eat, what activities to do, what books to read, and so on. That isn’t what God commanded. These are not the path, they just happen on the path. We should ponder these things, but if they are just steps on the path, they don’t have as much significance. If my child is on the path of life, he can change his choice about ADHD medication without leaving the path.
I should agonize more about leading him to the path and loving the Lord. That is where he finds fulfillment and joy.
In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
So we tried medication, and after some dose adjusting, we found a happy place. CT is still himself, but he finally has enough focus to sit and learn at school. I am happy with our decision. But I also have friends that have made major lifestyle changes in diet for their ADHD child and are happy with their decision. This is a decision that needs to made with prayer and knowledge about your own child but don’t agonize about it. There is no right answer. And the decision can be amended.
This is an open handed thing (closed handed being Jesus is Lord) that should not be used to criticize and guilt others. We should be encouraging one another, because we should know more than anyone that parenting an ADHD child is hard! We should care about leading people to the path of life in His presence rather than nitpick their steps on the path once they get there.
So What Would Jesus DO with an ADHD child? He would lead them to the path of life.