We were constantly in fear of her hitting or pushing a friend, destroying a friend’s toy, or throwing a block at someone’s head. We started to isolate ourselves because we were embarrassed of how our child acted around others.

We suspected that Andrea had ADHD when she was about 18 months old. Her temper tantrums were more intense than most typical 18 mo – 2 year olds, and they literally came out of nowhere. With Katie, my wife, being a therapist for children with autism/behavioral issues, we tried every therapy technique in the book. We knew Andrea’s outbursts and behaviors were not “typical”.

Starting at about 2 years old, we really started to notice the minor things – It took forever to get her out the door; putting on clothes was a 1/2 hour task; and she couldn’t sit still, play nicely, or control herself. We were constantly in fear of her hitting or pushing a friend, destroying a friend’s toy, or throwing a block at someone’s head. We started to isolate ourselves because we were embarrassed of how our child acted around others.

What we heard consistently was, “Even if it’s ADHD, there’s nothing to do for ADHD this young.” That’s like saying, “Your kid has an illness, but we can’t treat it till they are older.” To us, this was NOT acceptable.

Luckily, my wife and I are blessed with one of the best-known child and adolescent psychiatrist fathers(-in law) in the world. A thorough evaluation of Andrea with input from Andrea’s teachers, led to a diagnosis of ADHD. Soon afterward, she was put on medication, which has helped her focus and improve impulse control. I myself have ADHD and struggled my whole life without medication; I was not to the extreme that Andrea is, however this helped in our decision to put her on medication. We did struggle with her age and putting her on them this young, however, with Katie and her Dad’s professional backgrounds in child behavior we knew the decision was in the best interest for Andrea.

Luckily, we are two STRONG Mamas who have learned to drown out the noise now.

For the first few months, we truly tried to hide the fact that our child was on medication. We didn’t want the judgment and opinions of others to affect our life and our decision that we had finally made. Luckily, we are two STRONG Mamas who have learned to drown out the noise now.

But life is still hard — we are constantly judged about our decision to put our 3 year old on medication and it is not a “fix-all”. Family, friends, strangers always have an opinion about our decision to medicate so early. We get input often to change her diet, use behavior charts, punish differently, reduce clutter etc. These are all things that we have tried, but everyone still has their input on what we could do differently. 

All in all, even with medications, it is not a fix-all. Andrea still has her moments – we still have extreme tantrums, aggression, and meltdowns. So, one way or another we are being judged from someone. Either that someone is watching a huge meltdown in the middle of the Park, or someone is judging that our 3 year old is on medication.

What I most want to tell people is this: The next time you judge a parent please remember that you have absolutely no clue what that family is going through. None. On the surface, you may see a happy smiling family with a nice house and car who take regular vacations, but people may be going through more than you think. We have an absolutely brilliant 3 year old that cannot control herself. It truly is not only the child that is affected by the ADHD; it is the whole family. It is constant tears, screaming, fighting. We truly live and breathe by Andrea’s mood. If she is in a good mood, everyone is in a good mood.


When I saw this post on Facebook with its over 100 likes and comments I realized that Gianina was expressing an important message about parental decision-making and social judgement. I invited her to submit her post as an example of Flash Nonfiction, or short form, truth-based storytelling. What strikes me as important about Gianina’s cultural reflection is how often non-researchers effectively perform autoethnography. The fact that Gianina did so in a public space (Facebook) speaks to the autoethnographic nature of many of our social media communications. Whether we agree or disagree with her message, we can appreciate what this entire decision-making process was like for Gianina and her family thanks to her evocative expression. Marlen Elliot Harrison, Editor-in-Chief

Featured Photo by Marco Albuquerque on Unsplash

  1. Gianina and Katie, two moms, have a difficult decision to make, whether or not to put their daughter, Andrea, on ADHD medication so early on. Both are worried about the backlash from others on their decision but share their thoughts on caring about external judgment. I find that when Gianina says, “These are all things that we have tried, but everyone still has their input on what we could do differently.” Many families, including my own, may connect with this statement. It’s common for other moms to be quick to judge other moms. For example, my mom sometimes didn’t attend school events because of work. To other moms, it may come off as not caring for her children, but she was doing it so we could continue to live the lifestyle we’ve been living. The article spotlights the social issue of strangers not fully understanding what’s behind the scenes and sharing their opinions, offering their “help.” She explains how strangers don’t know their daughter, how Andrea may react to certain situations, or the reasoning behind a major tantrum, saying, “The next time you judge a parent, please remember that you have absolutely no clue what the family is going through.” She later says, “All in all, even with medications, it is not a fix-all.” To showcase her understanding that medications will not make Andrea’s ADHD disappear but help it and create peace within the household. It highlights how judgment comes with any decision, and the best thing to do is ignore and continue to do what you feel is best.

  2. This article is about the difficult decision a family had to make to put their 2-year-old daughter on ADHD medication despite the scrutiny they received from others. I agree with everything about Gianina’s stance on deciding to medicate her toddler. I believe, that although medicating a child at an early age can have negative effects it can also have very positive ones. As long as the child’s doctor is aware of the medication being used and helps to monitor their symptoms then it shouldn’t be frowned upon. Although medication might have adverse effects on some individuals (especially adolescents) it is important to remember that every individual is different. What might work for one child, might not work for the other and vice versa. In conclusion, I feel like most parents want the best for their children. If they feel like whatever method they are taking is working to stop some behavioural issues that affect the family dynamic, they should continue with that method. At the end of the day, if medication is necessary to not only improve the behavioural concerns with the child but also improve the overall family dynamic, then they should take those necessary steps to improve everyone in the family’s quality of life.

  3. This post resonated with me because I have a little brother with sensory issues and a speech delay and I worry all the time about if he’s going to be ok being alone or with kids his own age. A really strong phrase you made was that a child’s illness does not just affect the child it affects the whole family. I’ve seen my parents try multiple ways of discipling, changing diets, completing behavioral charts, and everything in between with very little effect. I find your resilience and strength one of the most beautiful forms of love. It can be very hard to approach a problem with someone you love and genuinely not fully know what the best plan of action is for them. Another great point made in this post was to not judge families because no one really knows what’s going on and how it affects people in that family. Specifically, with families of POC’s, it is extremely looked down upon if a child seems like they are undisciplined. Family members have judged my brother and not known what he has and don’t understand what he’s going through. They assume that he’s abnormal and judge him for it. He’s a really smart kid and really nice, and shouldn’t be treated that way.

    Ultimately, your strength and confidence in your decision with your child is inspiring, and people should follow your example.

  4. Although I believe the intentions of this article was for educational purposes and a reflection upon personal experiences I think that it still gives a bad connotation to being medicated for ADHD, at any age for that matter. I think that coming forward and saying that you are “lucky” because you learned how to drown out the noise is insensitive to the issues that individuals with ADHD deal with. It gives the presumption that it can be drowned out or that an individual with ADHD is a burden not only to themselves but also to the people around them. I mean just imagine if the child was to grow up and see this article would it bring conflict in the household? Was her behavior an anchor to the lifestyle that her parents wanted for her? Did she not meet the parent’s expectations put into place for the child? I think this article is helpful to people who want to know how medicating can be helpful but detrimental and belittling to individuals who have ADHD or attention deficiencies. As an individual diagnosed with ADHD this article was more of a slap in the face than a loving and compassionate perspective from parents who decided to medicate their child at a young age, and maybe it could have been worded differently.

  5. The author vents about their struggles raising a small child with ADHD and the struggle with how their decision was perceived by others. The struggle is something interesting as it has a multipart problem. On the one hand, they must struggle with the issue of medicating their child at such a young age as well as dealing with the social judgment they face from friends and family. The internal and social struggle is something that many of us can relate to. No one wants to admit that something is wrong with their child and especially not put them on medicine at such a young age. The author was fortunate to have specialists around them but many families don’t have this. They are forced to adjust in whatever way they deem necessary, and this isn’t always positive. Such ways can be detrimental to a child’s growth. But perhaps the most important part of this situation is the social judgment this family faced. It is horrible to think that family has to deal with resistance from strangers who know nothing of internal problems and struggles. As someone with ADHD myself I find it interesting how there was such a stigma, I didn’t deal with this when I started taking medicine, of course, I was older so there’s a real possibility the stigma is higher with younger individuals.

  6. The author discusses their struggles with figuring out how best to help their child through mental health struggles despite the amount of people who try to tell them the “better options” they should have gone with instead. The author also admits that likely the main reason they were even able to achieve what she believes is currently their best solution was through family expertise within the field of child behavior and psychiatry. This article largely resonates with me as somebody with a very young diagnosis of ADHD that has had to test with my psychiatrist to find what medication works best. My family and I have both commonly had to stand up for our choice to put me on medication from a young age, an age similar to the age of Andrea, and to learn to deal with set-backs and also acknowledge the lack of a perfect solution. Often it can be quite challenging to be able to make the right decision while dealing with pressure from others who know nothing about your situation trying to tell you that you are not making the right decision. It is quite important to be able to learn to tune out bad advice being given to you by people who do not have enough information to be giving you good advice, especially when said advice is to stop doing what is currently working just fine for you.

  7. “The Decision to Medicate” covers the topic of medicating for mental conditions, which is a decision with no definitive “correct” option. Though not a parent, I connected with this piece through my own experiences with medication. It was a difficult decision for my mother to allow me to start medication at a young age, though admittedly not nearly as young as three, and I have to admit that it was a trial and error process. I liked that you mentioned that medication is “not a ‘fix-all’” because that is a very common misconception. This very misconception is why many look down on the decision to medicate as they expect the medication to be a “fix-all” and when it isn’t they assume that the medication simply doesn’t work.

    It is important to be confident in your parenting decisions and not let yourself be swayed by those who don’t know the whole story. You were very correct in mentioning that these other parents do not see what is going on behind the scenes. Their surface level understanding will never include the whole picture. Overall, this short work explores the difficult and personal topic of medicating a young child in an approachable way.

  8. Two moms in the suburbs face the difficult decision that has been debated for decades. Should you medicate young children? Ultimately they decided, for their family, the answer was yes. It is a hard decision on whether you should put your child on behavior altering drugs. There is a lot of judgment from other people because most feel this is just to make things easier for the parent instead of helping the child. Although the three year old is a bit too young to express how she feels about the situation, there was a lot of consideration and research gone into the decision that was ultimately made. However, there is a lot of other risk and issue that might come up later in life. A lot of people on medication because addicted to them and if they decide to go off it later in life they might spiral, there is also the issue of suppressing the personality of the child. One of the moms and the grandfather are also too close to the child to make diagnosis on their own, and although it does not mention it I would hope they went to an outside source who is not connected in any way to the family to make the official diagnosis. These women are both also business professionals, and when they said their lives revolve almost completely around the mood of their child a lot of people would say that’s how it is for most parents. A lot of factors go into place with how they might be looking at this, but ultimately it is their child. They might remove her from the medication when she gets into grade school, or just over time as she manages her emotions better. I relate to this because I’ve seen how addictive the drugs can be and how people in my family and friend groups react when they’re off the drugs. If there were ever a time where those drugs were simply not available they will sometimes become worse than before they were on them. This is why I think we need to be careful about how we medicate people, mainly children, but to respect the parents choice in the end.

  9. The article explores the struggles of being parents and raising a child, and having to make bitter choices for the betterment of the child. the article really raises the question, is it okay for kids to be on medications so early on knowing the risk? Both moms are express their concerns and safety of their child and her extreme outburst they had to come to hard decision in which had a lot to consider. They made the effort to research and think through their thoughts and in the end realized it was best to put their child on medications. What’s more they had a professional and family member that being the father in-law diagnose, thought there are other methods to helping their child, its more apparent that this method works better for them. They put their child in their life and its all for the well being of their kid due to them being a major part of their life. I can relate to this because as the eldest of 5 siblings its not always a peace and quiet and my younger sister who is diagnosed with autism tends to throw a tantrum smashing her head on anything near by even though she’s aware of what she’s doing her other sense drive her and leads to her having trouble communication to us with the issues she’s having over the years we’ve found systems to help control her sudden out burst. This article gives us a trailer of the harsh decisions parents have to make for the safety and security of their children .

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