Dear Dr. Archer,
I hope I can count on you for advice and help. I am so distraught at this most recent set of events with my grandson, "G", and I am so helpless. This is my fourth rewrite!
I can't possibly detail the intricacy of our history with this little boy. He is now six and a half, and we love each other astoundingly! My husband and I are very close by and we are very good for him.
My husband and I are his second ~and better~ set of parents. I say better because we have raised three boys already and discovered our mistakes. We treat him with the very best of everything we have learned. G is the product of a very short lustful affair between my teenage son and his 17 year old girlfriend.
They have no relationship other than she hates him because she wants more money, and he hates her because she is a lousy mother. They share custody 50/50.
She comes from a single mother household that has always been dependent on short lived husbands and boyfriends to pay the bills. Suffice it to say mom and her two sisters have a very low opinion of the roll a father has in a child's life.
G's mom has always had a hard time mothering him. However, she doesn't think so. She has often called us to take him because he was driving her nuts.
There have been times when we called and he was with someone else because mom couldn't handle him. I don't think she has ever been with him more than two days at a time before "visiting" someone.
She has had many boyfriends, both live-ins and others, and she is presently living with a drug dealer that was her boyfriend before, but isn't this week.
Streams of people come and go through their house, and there are fights, screaming and yelling; maybe more. It's just awful. Mom is significantly irresponsible, and she's been homeless twice, and both times G has stayed with us for months.
She works "under the table" at a pizza place, so there is no record of her income so she receives more state benefits. This year G started having trouble in school the first week. He tells us his teacher doesn't like him. He has had bad report after bad report and isn't doing well.
Mom spoke to dad about taking him to a doctor to put him on medications. We thought it might be a good idea because a professional should easily spot that counseling is needed and she might get some long past due parental skill training.
Instead, she came out of the doctor's office with a prescription for Focalin. We are besides ourselves that this could happen! Now this boy, who suffers only because of poor parenting, is being poisoned by chemicals.
You have to trust me on this call, Dr. Archer, since I need a mini novel to retell all the instances. I know child development, I know a true ADHD child, and this boy is NOT ADHD.
Dad is shocked that no one consulted him, as he has equal parenting authority. He specified that he is opposed to any medication when they talked about taking him for an evaluation.
Mom gave G the pill and expects that it will be a magic solution and her troubles will be over. I will add here that mom used to give him allergy medication when he was a toddler so that he would go to sleep when she wanted him to.
Dr. Archer, this is so tragic! I am unable to even put into words my feelings. I want to steal him away to somewhere so we'll never be found! How can a doctor not investigate before handing out medication with horrible side effects? I know my husband and I have no rights. Dad is married with two kids and they only have one income.
I know they don't have money to bring lawyers to court. This news is only a few hours old, so we are still dealing with the unbelievable factor. Advice? Please! How can we help him?
Grandmother In Love
This is nothing short of tragic, and I understand how devastating this is to all of you. This girl was not ready for the responsibility that parenthood brings, and she's obviously still not ready.
A doctor goes by what the patient, and in this particular case, what the parent tells him. Since your son was not in the room with the doctor to hear what was going on it’s hard to know why Focalin was prescribed. However, my personal opinion is that ADHD is vastly over-diagnosed and over-medicated as well.
IF, and that's a big if, he is found to be ADHD, he has a world of opportunity in front of him with the right guidance. Famous people who are suspected of having ADHD include Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison and Agatha Christie.
Would they have garnered their fame had they been on medication? I doubt it! Today's celebrities with ADHD include Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake, Whoopi Goldbert and Michael Jordan.
What I'm getting at, Grandmother, is that being ADHD is not a bad thing unless it creates total havoc. Before I would rely on one doctor's recommendation, I would seek the advice of another.
You are wrong about one thing -- grandparents have rights, and they are gaining more rights as stories like this become more prevalent. However, your son, whether he has two more children are not, helped bring this child into the world and should be a stronger presence in his life.
My suggestion is that when your son has the boy, take him for a second opinion. Feel free to go as well, and that way you can hear firsthand what the doctor has to say about G.
Too many times children are put on medications unnecessarily, and while they become more manageable, they lose part of their uniqueness which is the foundation for their greatness.
Other ideas: If she has asked G to say with you for months at a stretch, ask her if you can keep him indefinitely. Let her know that you love the child, and that you would take care of him and pay for all of his expenses.
Also let her know she would be welcome into your home any time she wanted to come see G. Assure her you're not trying to become the mom, you simply want him to have a stable home.
If she refuses, Grandmother, then your son has no alternative but to take legal action. A call to Child Protective Services is in order, because the men that mom is seeing will have a very negative impact on G's life. There is no way CPS would allow a child to live with a drug dealer when a perfectly stable home with the other parent was available.
It is nonsense to blame lack of funds as the reason for G to remain in an unsafe environment. Sorry, Grandmother, but it's called personal responsibility. If he could not give this son everything he needed, he had no business having two more. He has to own up to his responsibility here and find a way to take action.
Use CPS or free legal aid, but do whatever it takes to make sure this child is not hurt further. As grandparents, if mom does not voluntarily do what's in G's best interest, then you, too, can seek help from the court, even if your son refuses.
In the meantime, document, document, document. An innocent six year old boy's future is at stake. I wish you all well, and please give us an update on G. I truly care.