Tedious Motherhood Now, or Medication Later?

The longer I’m a mother, the more I can see the tedious work involved in raising healthy, competent, stable children.

Is anyone appalled at statistics floating around out there about the number of adults and children alike on anti-depressants? Is anyone appalled by the increasing number of stories in the news of outrageous behavior? Teen addictions? Teen depression and suicide? Children murdering each other?

Sin exists. Evil exists. But I don’t think we’ve ever known a day where it is so rampant…especially among children. Something is so amiss, so completely wrong that we should be willing to accept whatever conclusions we find to fix it.

Here is one report from a site called “Fight for Kids“:


“Today, children 5 years old and younger are the fastest-growing segment of the non-adult population prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. Children as young as 4 have attempted suicide while influenced by such drugs and 5 year olds have committed suicide. Between 1995 and 1999, antidepressant use increased 580% in the under 6 population and 151% in the 7-12 age group.” 


I don’t mean to try to oversimplify things…admittedly, there is a plethora of problems our society faces, stemming from a vast number of underlying causes. And this post offers some broad generalizations; still, a noteworthy look is in order.

On a simple level, as a mother, I can see in my own children’s lives how crucial the day-in, day-out shaping of the person is. Training them to deal with life. It is tedious! Time-consuming. Hard. And who is willing but a parent? Could this be one of the biggest “missing links” among families?

My 1 1/2 year old has a new “reaction”. It’s as normal and natural for her as breathing. Whenever a sibling touches her or does something in the least that she doesn’t like, she furrows her brow and says (not kindly) “No!”

She’s expressing herself…yeah I know. But as a baby, she doesn’t have any self-control or “tools” with which to handle her “expressions”.

It’s our job to give that to her. I don’t know how many times a day I have to stop her, tell her “you may not scream“, or “No ma’am, you don’t speak like that”, and then replace it with a better response. And often, it’s inconvenient, or tiring–easy to ignore. But ignoring isn’t part of my job.

She hasn’t gotten it yet, but she will. And that’s a tiny little example of what will blossom into an ongoing method of teaching her self-control, kindness and yielding of her will to others.

It’s those very things that we’re missing as a whole in our day. And I think the reason is rather simple:

We’re so focused on the wrong things, we don’t even have the understanding of how important this character-building is. As parents, we’ve been told “athletics is important”. “Academics is important”. “Success/making money is important.”

Little is spoken of the importance of “wisdom, self-control, responsibility and integrity”.

And the pursuit of those things sucks up all our time and energy until we are hardly providing beyond the basics–food, shelter and clothing–for our children. And if we’re not in pursuit of those “important” things, we spend our time in amusement, trying to drown out the cares of life. (I still love the quote…”A soldier has no time for amusement“). Don’t get me wrong, we love our movie night…I’m addressing an amusement-addicted culture.

We have raised a generation of unyielding, out-of-control, angry or depressed adults, who can barely function without medication. (I know there are rare cases where sickness is truly present and needs medicated, but it can’t be that we’ve suddenly had such a sharp increase in “mental sickness” in the last decade–there has to be another answer.)

We’re dropping the ball, and we’re paying for it.

It’s why my heart breaks when motherhood is so undervalued; it’s not about “my need for recognition as a mother”…it’s about what is happening to a whole generation of children , left without the supernatural concern and intutition of parents in their most formative years, unequipped to deal with life on the simplest level, and then turning into adults who still bear the intense suffering of that unbringing.

Mothers, take the time. Weed those little gardens…tedious as it is, as many times as those weeds sprout up again…keep at it. It’s bigger than today.

Devotions, Advice & Renewal for When Motherhood Feels Too Hard

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20 Responses to “Tedious Motherhood Now, or Medication Later?”

  1. Kim M. says:

    The Lord helped me with this very issue before I ever put my son on meds. I know I have mentioned it before, but he was in Christian school and we were STRUGGLING with what they said was ADD tendencies.(daydreaming in class and being the last to get anything done, etc).
    I honestly believe it was **the Lord** that led me to read an article by a mother who refused to put her son on meds because it would impair his character training.
    It clicked with me and we chose to home-school so that we could actually train his character. I am so thankful that the Lord led me to that article. Perhaps some mom out there needs to read this just like I needed the article that I read.

  2. Kim M. says:

    P.S. It’s only been 7 months and he is a different boy.

  3. Word Warrior says:

    Wow, Kim, it’s encouraging to hear that.

    Again, I hope someone out there with a child on meds who may very well need them doesn’t think I’m being harsh…there will be a few who don’t fit into a “generalization” like this one…but I think FAR far too many problems–meds, behavioral, etc. are simply a lack of devoted, early training.

  4. Mrs. Taft says:

    I think that kids who actually need medication are an exception, but they are quickly becoming the rule, and yes, it’s often due to lazy parenting. My cousin manages a few day care centers, and she sees this all the time. I have several teacher friends who find this to be true as well in their experiences. It’s amazing how much of a difference involved, balanced, active parenting makes in the life of a child.

  5. Bethany Hudson says:

    Kelly, to me it seems to be just one more of the ways that we Americans (and especially parents) can “pass the buck.” We don’t want to deal with troublesome behavior in our children, so we take them to a doctor who labels them with some disorder and prescribes medication. *Whew* we sigh. I guess it wasn’t my fault after all it’s such-and-such syndrome, and I don’t have to do anything because this pill will take care of it. (I’m being extremely fascetious, here, and yes I realize that there are some actual problems out there that require medication and that not every parent wants to dope their kids up on ritilin; I’m referring to a trend.) My mother is a public middle-and-high school librarian, and she has said that watching the trends in medicalization of children over the past three decades has been extremely disturbing to her–particularly as she was one of the rare teachers to tried to comabt the trend and still does. But, even more astonishing is what she’s shared with me about how parents simply refuse to be involved in their children’s lives. Just two stories from this past month:

    One of her students who is a very depressed young man and probably does suffer from several mental disorders told his father he was suicidal. His dad drove him to the hospital and dropped him off where the seventeen-year-old checked himself into the psych ward. Since he wasn’t with a parent, the staff at the hospital assumed he was an adult and the poor thing was terrified for hours, alone in the adult psych ward, until the staff realized they’d made a mistake. Meanwhile, Dad was at work and didn’t check up for hours and the kid’s mom didn’t even know that he was in the hospital!

    Another student of my mother’s was up on her roof, threatening to jump and kill herself. Her mom talked her down and eventually the girl came back inside… and her mom promptly went back to watching American Idol. I kid you not!

    What is wrong with parents? What is wrong with doctors? What is going on with our kids? I cannot tell you how much my mother’s stories make me want to be a homeschooler. Fortunately, she agrees and is eager to help me in anyway she can so that I can keep my kids out of this disturbing cycle.

    ~Bethany

  6. Word Warrior says:

    Bethany,

    Oh my…and to think, those are just two cases your mother happens to know about…you’re right, parents love the “syndrome” epidemic that relieves them of guilt.

    And then we must ask…”Why all the depression and phych. trouble?” It’s a tangled ball of thread with many connecting causes.

    There’s a new trend among teens called “sexting” where they send nude pictures of themselves through their phones…and so on, the unbelievable character-less society that is growing up to be our “leaders”…frightening.

  7. Bethany Hudson says:

    Oh yes, sexting is another ordeal at my mom’s school right now. The latest story is that one of her girls sexted her bare chest to her boyfriend, and he showed it to a couple of other boys. Now the girls’ mother is trying to sue the boyfriend and the school. When the counselor talked to the girl about it, she discovered that the mother had never even once brooched the topic with her!
    ~Bethany

  8. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post! I need suggestions though on how you discipline when a medication is causing behavioral problems : / Case in point. We’re pretty sure our middle kid has asthma. Until we can see an allergist and get his meds regulated/changed or pinpoint what he’s allergic to and eliminate it so he won’t have to be on meds consistently, he’s on at least 2 albuterol nebulizer treatments a day on top of an oral steroid.
    Albuterol has nasty nasty behavioral side-effects. He’s generally crazy, wild, spastic, strung out, and if that weren’t enough, he doesn’t listen well and is disobedient when he’s on it.

    When I try to discipline him, of course he cries and it sends him into an asthmatic coughing fit. So I’m stuck between trying not to tick him off and minimizing the effects of the meds. Grrrr. Any thoughts?

  9. the cottage child says:

    I so appreciate this post. I wonder when we decided as a society that medicating small children for behaving like small children was normal. It says more about our behavior than theirs, I’m sad to admit.

    I have many family members who are public school educators and adminstrators. My stepmother, who is an artist, as well as a public school system principal, for many years in an “alternative” setting”, gave me some incredible insight when I was pregnant with our first child….her advice was never let your child be medicated unless it is life or death, unless the inconvenience is for the child – as in discomfort from common illness,ear infections, and the like, depression, and serious psychiatric ailments. She shared her observation that the drugs of choice in a childs early life were usually television and sugar. No wonder they needed help paying attention and sitting still, even to the extent they should be expected to do so.

    Thanks for such a great reminder of the sway we hold over the shaping of our little ones. Peace.

  10. rylie's mom says:

    My daughter has behavior problems. I always describe it as being stuck in the terrible twos, but she is six yrs old. She has Down syndrome, so her receptive language skills are lacking. She does not understand discipline or consequences. At one point I was taking her to psychologists and doctors and I WANTED them to give her medication. I was at my wits end! And you know what? Not one of those doctors perscribe medication for her. Just the help of a behaviorist to work with her and our family. Now I’m glad that we didn’t go the medication route, because even though she has behavioral issues, she also has the sweetest and funniest personality. I would not have wanted any meds to alter her personality. I just thought I would share that there are good doctors out there that don’t think children automatically need meds!

    My daughters behavior problems haven’t improved much, but I lean on the support of other parents in my situation and pray, pray, pray!

    I am also looking for ways to change her diet(something I should have tried in the first place)

  11. Missi says:

    This was really interesting to read today. Brent and I sat bewildered at nap time, looking around our crazy house, and just said, “How come nobody ever taught us how to LIVE?” We were both raised to be pleasured, entertained, and generally spoiled. Never prepared for real life, and now trying to play catch up while at the same time trying to train our kids to be…what?
    Different than we are. That’s all we know!

    We are the product of this sort of society you are writing about. By God’s grace, we are being transformed and learning a better way, but it sure is a painful journey sometimes!

    Thank you for your encouragement today, Kelly! =)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Last night our family was watching the Celebrity Apprentice and the task was to create a viral video for All laundry detergent's new concentrated product, Small & Mighty. When asked about their target audience, the female executive said (something to the effect of) "Not moms, they are women first, women with children." Now women aren't even calling themselves moms? They are women with children?

    Tina

  13. authenticallyme says:

    On one hand I do agree. It is difficult to imagine a small 5 year old child needing medication. However, I certainly do not know everything, and would not make a 100% judgmental call; each case needs to be dealt with individually. I do agree that many issues children have trouble with can often be traced to lack of intimacy….my own kids act up when I have had time to spend with them. Heck, *I* act up sometimes when no one has time to spend with ME. lol.

    However, I am on medication. I do not numb myself with it, I took it because I had bene under a lot of stress for a very long time. Perhpas some of the stress was my not dealing with things in a healthy way, but I did thre best I could at the time, and learned later how to operate in a more way that was constructive to everyone around me. BUT….that stress and longevity of it, had already taken its toll. I recall running the second red light in a week, and saying to myself, “Girl, you NEED to get yourself to a doctor”. And I did. I was scared, but in the end was pleasantly surprised that I dont feel ‘doped up’, tired, and have had literally no side effects from the medication. I do not plan on being on it forever, and yes I agree often it is the conseuqences of the way the world operates than rains consequences on us….some are direct, but many are indirect, too. I viewed going on medication as a sign of weakness, and ‘trusted’ God to get me out of it. Alas, my way isnt always the way that works, and I am on an anti-depressant.

    Just last week, my mother was sharing similar things in her life. I was VERY concerned for her. She actually had a breakdown in the middle of the day and called the doctor, who pulled her in the next dya and began anti-depressants. I am not saying my mother does not need spiritual guidance, she does (we all do!) but what I am saying is often people need to be stabilized in order to do the emotional and spiritual work to get to the place where the consequences arent perpetually weighing down on them. My poor mother and father were conned by a relative, and now own a house they never signed a mortagage for, and that house is going for sheriffs sale because the mortgage was never paid( by her own relatives…forged my dads signature…its awful) She also learned in the last months she not only has a tumor in her head, but has thyroid isssues, and needs a colonoscopy. Plus diabetes in the last 3 months. I believe everything in this world belongs to God, and even depressants can be used for good. It is the discerning when one needs it that is the hard call. I feel I was loving my mother by making her see her doctor and explaining the extreme stress at 61 that she is under, and I only shared half of it. I know for me antidepressants calmed me down and helped me stay focused-took the edge off of rolling emotions-so I could work on myself and get some self-control in my life. Had I not gone on them, I wonder how many more red lights I could have run. It was not fair to society that I left myself unchecked.

    I know this is not the point of this article. I agree we are over medicating today. Im just not sure that the rate consequences are raining down, will change that fact. I know many parents struggle to do well by their children. Sadly, they themselves probably only had half a foot in the door during their formative years. I can tell you first hand, as Missy stated, it is so difficult when you yourself are stuill crawling out from under a dysfunctional family system, to have the energy or even the know-how with raising children. Espeically when in many ways, you are still a child, in a woman’s body. I know I have grown a lot….but it does remain a challenge, as I know it does for every parent out there.

    I think it is good to have a *desire* to want goodness and to make things better or right, one child at a time….but at the same time I know for the end to arrive, the wolrd must go further downhill. So I accept the world how it is today, while stuill clinging to hope that someone will be healed and revealed to, tomorrow. If that makes sense. I really do not think every mess will be cleaned up, even if it *can* be cleaned up. yanno?

    Thanks for listening to my share.

  14. Ivy in the Kitchen says:

    I knew they were pushing anti-depressants on college-age students and teens, but I hadn’t heard about the younger children being given anti-depressants; it’s truly sickening.

    I’ve been forced to take one of those “depression tests” and pretty much any young person or child would probably answer enough of those vague, misleading questions to supposedly warrant medication – just by the fact that yes, younger people haven’t yet reached full mental maturity. What a shocker, right?

    Just so you know, there does seem to be hope. As a college student a lot of down time is spent in random conversation about ‘what’s wrong with the world’ – and let me tell you, even at my sadly extreme liberal university, I’m meeting a larger and larger number of peers that don’t think the current status-quo is perfectly okay. I’m actually meeting like-minded people who are getting wary about the amounts of medication pumped into children, the lack of parental guidance, the flippant-entertainment driven-now culture, the lack of real meaning in life, and yes, even feminism (mostly from guys – go figure!).

    Granted people like them (and me) still seem to be in the minority, but not all of us have been brainwashed.

    As a final note, my mother is a special education teacher, and there is huge discrepancy between the sexes regarding medication – and our future men are the ones being over-medicated into calm little zombies. Some people think I’m crazy, but I can’t help thinking that this is some sort of mass effort to curtail boys acting like, well, boys. I suppose it’s easier to indoctrinate someone who’s pumped full of chemical suppressants and can’t be bothered to rise up in query or anger.

    -Miss H.

  15. Word Warrior says:

    Mrs. H,

    What a very thought-provoking theory you have that I am prone to accept as viable. I know for its immediate results, it’s a lot easier to medicate boys so they will “behave” (i.e. sit at a desk for abnormal periods of time doing what is completely unnatural for a boy to do all day), but it is quite interesting that we seem to be overrun with a culture of men who are apathetic, frustrated and defeated…we truly do not allow and teach boys to grow into men.

    One of our biggest problems, I think.

  16. Kimberly says:

    I have seen a lot of behaviour problems start out with parents unwilling to say no and mean no. The little things they ignored or bought their way out of have developed into full blown out of control teenagers. No amount of junk is going to fix the basic neglect these permissive parents haeped on their children.

    I warned my sister when her baby was a toddler she needed to correct her behaviour, now at almost 16 she has no concept of no and is completely out of control.
    Please pray for her… it is a heart breaking situation..

    As a parent you have to be in the trenches, and correct the same thing over, and over again…thats how children learn…My youngest daughter at 15 months is in the over and over stage…with mine being her word of choice for everything. Time and patience make a difference.

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  17. 7 and counting! says:

    I worked in mental health before staying home with our kids. I was the only voice of dissent when a child was brought in at the age of three (!) to be assessed for depression. This was 10 years ago. At that time we were well into the rush to medicate with mood altering drugs anything with two legs. I reviewed case notes after case notes, where the obvious problems stemmed from breakdowns in the family dynamic. This was the rule and there were few exceptions. When I would sit in on treatment meetings for clients the general plan was to medicate first. Then we might pursue counseling (of course secular in nature). When God blessed me with my first born, I was out of there faster than the meds they were prescribing. Sadly, the children are on the losing end of this battle.

  18. Heatherlady says:

    I’ve often thought that so many of the problems that we face as a society would be solved if woman (and men) just invested more time and love into their roles as parents and didn’t get distracted by the wordly things that don’t really matter in the long run. It seems silly to me sometimes that we spend SO much money to pay people to do jobs that wouldn’t be needed if mothers were home and with their children.

  19. Ace says:

    AMEN Sister, a Mother at home guided by the Mighty and Holy Father and dedicated to raising Godly Children and developing their character is NO MATCH for drugs.

    Many Blessings 🙂
    Ace

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