I’m not putting my child on medicine.”

“They’re always trying to diagnose our kids with something.”

“That child don’t need nothing but a butt whooping. Here, send them to my house.”

“Don’t invite her, she’ll bring those kids. They need to learn how to sit down.”

One of our favorite topics as black people is how to raise children, and much like how to clean a house, cook, or dressing stylishly, we think nobody else can do it like us. Oh, we see other people’s children acting terribly and we murmur under our breath about how that could never be us. Even if we have no children of our own, we just know that we can do better.  

It reminds me of my cousin, we’ll call her Appalonia to protect her name,  who does not like collard greens. For those of you who aren’t familiar, collard greens are a staple of “soul food”, which many African-Americans are fond of. Appalonia invariably at every holiday has to hear “Oh, well you just haven’t tried my collards.” Then she has to endure a litany of how the self-proclaimed chef prepares theirs, etc. etc. The fact of the matter is, Appalonia doesn’t like greens because of the texture. She also doesn’t like spinach, and several other similar greens. No chef can change the texture, but they keep trying to press these greens upon her. Unsolicited and unwanted greens are almost literally shoved down her throat constantly, with no attempt to see where she is coming from or what her experience is. 

This is a problem I see often in the black community when it comes to children with ADHD. We have a prescribed set of rules for how people should be living according to our opinions and desires. This is alienating those of us who have the disorder, folks. You see, a person with a hyperactive or inattentive ADHD child has done something to get that child diagnosed. They took them to a professional. I know you have watched Dr. Oz seen it on Dr. Phil and you feel like you heard about an herb somewhere that can cure it. Your attempts at armchair psychology cannot trump the years of learning that the professional has. 

Your declarations of how awful someone’s child is and how you can do better with them show nothing but how you are judging them. Little do you know the struggle that those parents go through. Imagine the failure that person feels as a parent and then having to deal with your unsolicited arrogant opinion. Not only is it offensive, but it is highly unlikely that you have the patience it requires to handle a child with unique needs without messing them up with your inflexibility and intolerance. After all, what are one person’s needs in the face of how something “should” be done?

I have a suggestion for you folks: hold your opinions. Reserve your judgements. Keep your collard greens too.  Next time you see someone struggling with an unruly child, offer to help them. Ask them what their struggle is. Listen to them. Try to understand. You never know, you might learn something. After all, Dr. Oz can’t cover it all in one episode. 

Until next time,

René

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