Friday, September 30, 2011

Waffle House to Tel Aviv

I have four children. I am proud of all four of them. They are all sensitive, kind and productive adults.

I wasn't always sure how my children would turn out as they came up through childhood and teen years. We certainly had our lumps and bumps along the way. Each of them chose a different path, and sometimes hit a dead end and had to go another way. Two served time in the military. Three of my four children are now married and raising their own families. The time has gone quickly. They have all had their own personal challenges to overcome, but they have all done a good job of doing so.

My youngest seemed to have the most setbacks. He was such a cute little fellow, but he had real problems with ADHD. It wasn't quite as obvious when he was in grade school, but when he hit middle school, the problems escalated. We finally saw a specialist and he was diagnosed with ADHD. Ritalin was recommended. I fought it at first, as I am a Registered Nurse, and I have seen a lot of medication abuse. I didn't like the possible side effects involved with Ritalin especially. In fact, if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't have allowed him to be put on Ritalin.
I have talked with many healthcare professionals and counselors over the years, and many seem to feel that Ritalin sometimes serves as a "gateway" drug to other drug use.

It my youngest son's life, I feel this turned out to be true. Ritalin did NOT keep him in school. Thank goodness he is a very intelligent person, because he decided to drop out of school after ninth grade. He held various small jobs, KFC and Waffle House, and others. He was kind of lost as to what he wanted to pursue. He did get a GED. But, because of his lack of direction he made some really bad choices in friends and pursuits and paid dearly for them.

I am happy to report though, that after a few really difficult years and some time in a correctional facility, my son has rapidly moved up in the world and is a very successful businessman who travels all over the world. His life is nearly perfect now. In fact, this week he has been in Paris and Tel Aviv on business. We talk frequently and I am very proud of how far he has come in the past ten years.

Raising children is always a challenge. Sometimes it is just those difficult teen angst years, and sometimes it becomes something much more serious. Take is from me, you need to know who your childrens friends are and what they are up to. You need to know where your children are and what they are doing. They aren't going to want to share this information freely, but it is incredibly shocking how rapidly things can spiral out of control if you don't keep a handle on things.

I can look back now and see when the problems began for my youngest. I was so busy working and he was never an "in your face" kind of teen, that I just didn't notice some of the signs of trouble.

In Georgia, and many other states, your child can be charged with "conspiracy" to distribute drugs if they are caught even in the same car with someone who is transporting drugs. The sentences for conspiracy are ridiculous and can ruin a young person's life. In this hostile environment, it is imperative that you make
your child understand the dire consequences of being friends or acquaintances with people who might be involved in drugs and drug trafficking.

You can read about some of those horror stories if you go online to FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) and follow some of the stories there. It is absolutely heart wrenching.

This isn't my usual "light hearted" conversation, but I really felt moved today to share this information. I am so blessed, and all of my children and grandchildren are out of danger right now, but I know so many who are not. Take time to talk with your kids and their friends, and spend time carefully observing their behavior.
Children who have ADHD seem more prone to get involved with drugs, because they are trying to "fit in" and to overcome some of the distressing symptoms of ADHD that make them feel "different." If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, make sure you get sound counseling regarding treatment. Drugs may not be the answer for your child. I hope this discussion will touch someone out there and help them avoid some of the problems we encountered.

But, remember above all else, love your child with all your heart. Support them and don't judge them too harshly for their mistakes. Let them know you will ALWAYS be there for them. And, you know what? They may too go from Waffle House to Tel Aviv!

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