I felt strongly that this post needed to be written. I fully expect adverse reactions, guilt, rudeness, and insensitivity to transpire, but my prayer is that all would take a step back and understand what state our country is in right now. My intention isn’t to start an uproar, but to cause a fire to stir in your heart.
We don’t talk about this topic often enough, and I was terrified to publish it. I had at least 6 colleagues and friends look over it before even considering to share it.
Please know that my heart on this subject is not to talk about medicating ourselves and our children, but making our society realize that there is something very wrong in our country right now, and I truly believe it starts at home.
With that said….let’s begin….
I recently read a report that alerted the reader to the declining fertility rate in the United States. I don’t like that term, “fertility rate”. It makes it sound as though some of us are choosing not to have children. I think I’d be more concerned with the infertility rate, meaning, how many women can’t have children because they are infertile due to genetics, chemicals, free radicals, toxins, and more.
According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.
A country’s birthrate is among the most important measures of demographic health. The number needs to be within a certain range, called the “replacement level,” to keep a population stable so that it neither grows nor shrinks. If too low, there’s a danger that we wouldn’t be able to replace the aging workforce and have enough tax revenue to keep the economy stable. Countries such as France and Japan that have low birthrates have put pro-family policies into place to try to encourage couples to have babies. The flip side can also be a problem. Birthrates that are too high can strain resources such as clean water, food, shelter and social services, problems faced by India, where the fertility rate has fallen over the past few decades but still remains high. — The Washington Post
And yet, I still think there’s something more….
Our school systems are riddled with children who have been diagnosed time and time again with behavioral issues. Certainly, some of them have a rightful cause and diagnosis. I know plenty of children, first hand, who very seriously have conditions that need to be addressed. They can’t help it. Truly, they can’t. They have doctors that work endlessly to help them and their families, and for that I am truly grateful. These families don’t apply in the situations I’m about to share with you.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, consider this….
In 2011, 6.4 million children (1 in 10) received a diagnosis of ADHD, and were treated with therapy and/or medication. In just 10 years we saw a 42 percent rise in this diagnosis, and in that same year, 1 in every 25 children were prescribed an anti-depressant.
Read that again…
1 in every 25 elementary school students is on an anti-depressant.
Before we go any further, let me once again reiterate that there are certainly people who need medication, therapy, and treatment for these conditions. These are very real conditions. You wouldn’t decline treatment for your child who has diabetes or a chronic illness, right? It’s the same exact thing. However, in many cases, we’ve become a generation who depends on modern medicine more often than not. We depend on a diagnosis when what we should really be thinking about is the crisis our children are currently in.
Why are 6 year old children taking anti-depressants? Why are children lashing out and acting out?
And then I stop and wonder, what is their home life like?
We haven’t excelled in science….we’ve failed at parenting. We’ve failed at raising the “village”.
The thing that struck me the most in this report, however, wasn’t just the rise in numbers or the amount of children on anti-depressants. What struck me most was this…
Others noted Dr. Visser’s observation that “one out of five children had a diagnosing provider who relied only on information collected from family members.” This goes against American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines that information should be collected from multiple sources, such as teachers, coaches, and other adults involved in the child’s care. It indicates that one-in-five ADHD diagnoses in school-age children are heavily reliant on the way family members interpret that behavior. —psychologytoday.com
I know this isn’t something we want to hear, but I believe it’s something that we need to hear.
I believe that we need to get real with ourselves, because that’s the only way a society grows.
I believe it’s something that not enough people are saying, and so, well, I’m going to say it.
We’ve forgotten how to parent.
We’ve forgotten how to raise children.
We’ve forgotten how to have a family.
We’ve reached an era where we are relying on doctors to hand us reports that tell us how to be good parents.
In many reports and suggestions that parents receive from therapists and doctors for their children, they are often told to do these things:
- Remain calm when your child has an outburst, your reaction will be the deciding factor on how well your child responds to correction.
- Decide which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not. Setting a standard will help your child.
- Define household rules but allow for flexibility. Sometimes your child will just have a bad day.
- Manage your child’s aggression by using time out. If they have a public outburst, remove them from the area and correct them away from the public eye as not to embarrass them.
- Create structure and stick to a routine. Routines and schedules help your child know what’s planned for each day and causes less stress.
- Limit distractions. Television, video games, and the computer encourage impulsive behavior and should be regulated.
- Simplify your child’s life. Over-socialization can be hard. Encourage quiet time and reading. Mind stimulation will do wonders, imaginations are amazing.
- Believe in your child and encourage them. Praising your child for all of the good things they do, instead of constantly focusing on the bad, will create good moral and encourage a sense of appreciation and need.
- Don’t be negative or derogatory. You are your child’s rock. When you’re negative towards them simply because you are annoyed or rushed, it can cause hard feelings and a sense of being unwanted.
Could it be that if we parented differently and involved our kids more, that we’d see a decline in such need of these medications?
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. —Psalm 127:3-5
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” —Mark 9:36-37
I don’t know what the future holds for our country, or our world.
I don’t know what people’s situations are and I won’t even pretend to know.
But I do know this—we’ve lost the skill of parenting. Something is wrong. We’ve lost the ability, the want, the need, to raise a family efficiently. We’ve lost the desire to raise them properly and in the ways of the Lord.
And more than anything, we’re losing our children that are already here.
WE, the American family, need to start raising our children differently.
We need to get our hands dirty.
We need to plant gardens.
We need to eat better and exercise.
We need to teach our kids the meaning of hard work.
We need to put them to work!
We need to teach responsibility…actions and reactions.
We need to be more kind and gentle, and less harsh and demanding.
We need to sit down at the family dinner table again.
We need to guide our children, not just expect them to know how to live.
We need to be less social and more intent on raising mini-adults.
We need to keep ourselves in check before we can ever expect our kids to be kept in check.
We need to respect our kids so that they respect us.
We need to stop losing our cool. We’re parents! Stop arguing with your kids and trying to reason with them and start being the adult!
We need to stop having pity parties and temper tantrums if we ever expect our children to act appropriately.
We have to stop this…or else we’ll die from it…we will surely devour ourselves if we don’t start stepping up to the plate.
So wherever you are in life, and whatever you do, consider these things…
Am I kind?
Am I raising my family in the image of Christ?
Are my children acting out because I’m acting out?
Could I show myself and my child a little more grace that I normally do?
Could parenthood not be as scary as everyone says it is?
Have we lost the joy of parenting and raising a family?
Could it be that our children are suffering because our society ignores them?
I think as an American, and certainly as a Christian, these are very real question that we have to ask ourselves. At some point we have to stop it with all the rainbows and butterflies and really get real with ourselves.
I fail as a parent each and everyday. I don’t have it altogether. But each and everyday I learn more and more that our actions and reactions as parents cause our child to be better or worse. Each and everyday I hope my growth blocks out my failures.
We forget that children need to be trained. They aren’t born knowing how to act. They aren’t born knowing how to deal with their emotions. And when we are a society that is an emotional train wreck….can we really expect more from our children?
Today I encourage you to take some quiet time and ask God to search your heart as a parent, as a spouse, as a future parent, or as a single person who just has an interest in the American family.
And as He works in you, be open to the dark spots in your life that He wants to reveal.
I haven’t given up hope on the American family…the Christian family…and neither should you. But in order to bring it back, we must spend more time on our knees, and less times with rectangles in our hands.
And instead of a doctors note and pills, maybe the ultimate Doctor just calls for laying in the grass and looking at the clouds with your kids more often….and opening the Bible after a family dinner.
Don’t forget your children….