Sunday, March 11, 2018

The crime of being a boy

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "The crime of being a boy."

And of course, I got a "snark du jour" from someone calling him or herself "Covariant Derivative": "Sure, go ahead and trust an untrained ignoramus who invests in anecdotal accounts and gender stereotypes to advise you on your medical decisions."

(To which I want to respond with something like, "So you approve of boys being drugged?")

For those unable to access the WND website, this "untrained ignoramus" is posting the column text:

The Crime of Being a Boy

When our daughters were growing up, they were good friends with two boys of about the same age who went to our church. The children often visited each other’s homes for play dates and we got to know them very well. Their parents are solid, respectable, well-liked members of the community. The mother teaches math at the local high school and is one of those rare breed of teachers I wish could be cloned in every public school.

Their younger son (I’ll call him John) was a wild child. He was antsy, restless, full of energy, and had a hard time paying attention in class because he couldn’t sit still. He was impulsive and lacked judgment. He was below grade-level in reading because he preferred to be outside playing. In short, he fit the bill perfectly for the dreaded condition of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Even I had my doubts about John. He was just so – active. Whenever we had John and his brother over to play with our girls, he was always the one impulsively jumping in puddles or swinging from tree branches. My daughters tell a story about visiting John when he was about eight. Sitting on the couch watching a movie with the other children, John had a juice box. Suddenly without any warning, he shouted “Three – two – one – blastoff!” and forcefully flattened his juice box between his hands. The juice spurted through the straw so fast it slammed up to the ceiling and then rained down on the four children sitting on the couch, staining clothes and upholstery.

We still laugh over that incident, but it typified the impulsive nature of John’s personality. He seemed incapable of focusing, of sitting still (even while eating), of using age-appropriate judgment about a situation. I’d never seen anything like it, and I grew up with three brothers.

Over and over again, people urged his parents to give the boy Ritalin to calm him down and help him focus in school. And over and over again his parents refused, absolutely refused. “He’s just a boy,” his mother confidently said. Having spent 20 years teaching high school boys (and girls) in a classroom setting, this woman knew kids. In fact, I think one of the primary reasons John didn’t end up on Ritalin – despite getting into trouble in elementary school – was because his mother was a teacher and the school system couldn’t bully her into drugging her own son.

So are hyperactive boys like John truly afflicted with ADHD? The answer seems to be “no.”

There are some boys – or girls, for that matter – with decided neurological disorders which result in inappropriate behaviors, but an inability to focus in school is not necessarily an indicator. Frankly, it’s just easier to drug kids, especially boys. The Daily Bell notes, “Some schools end up harassing parents who do not comply with their recommendations to drug their kids. Some parents are not well informed and take schools’ advice, wrongly assuming it is scientific.”

This same Daily Bell article states the obvious: “Some children are better at paying attention than others. Some can cope with, or even enjoy, a school classroom setting. Some kids have more energy than others. Some are good at following directions, and some are easily distracted. But just because a classroom is not a good environment for many children does not mean they have a disorder. They may have an Attention Deficit because they are bored. They may he Hyperactive because they are cooped up and forced to sit still at a desk. But this does not constitute a Disorder. What happened to the belief in the uniqueness of a child? Aren’t they told they don’t have to fit in? And then if the factory school system doesn’t work for them, they have a disorder. Instead of treating children like individuals, schools and parents act like they have no other choice but to let drugs make the behavioral adjustments. How sad that there is more willingness to drug kids to make them fit in, instead of changing the system, or being attentive to individual needs.”

So why now, in modern times, are boys suddenly afflicted with this newfangled disorder? Frankly, they’re not. It’s just that boys have less opportunity to vent their excessive energy in societally-approved ways. In generations past, boys would be working active jobs or engaging in active games. Now kids are pacified by electronics and it’s “too dangerous” to let them play outside (besides, they might get their clothes dirty). For hyperactive kids like John, the eternal requirement to “sit still and behave” is simply impossible.

Because active little boys have a hard time going against their own nature, they’re told they’re bad. Frankly I think ADHD is just a backlash against boys.

The very existence of ADHD “as a legitimate illness is questionable, given the fact that diagnosing a person with ADHD does not involve any sort of scientific testing,” notes a Psychiatry News article. “Even those in the medical community who claim it involves abnormal brain activity must admit that brain scans are not used to diagnose a person with ADHD, and this is a very big problem. Nowhere is this issue more pressing than in the public school system, where experts have voiced concerns that students are being diagnosed with ADHD simply as a matter of convenience.”

Correct. Being a boy has become a problem. Public education is now firmly in the hands of feminists, who have decided boys should be like girls. They’ll forcibly make them like girls by drugging them into submission, if they have to. They view the instinctive rough-and-tumble, smash-and-bang physical nature of boys as the ultimate evil.

But boys shouldn’t have to apologize for being boys.

It’s been noted again and again how the one-size-fits-all nature of school classrooms serve girls far better than boys, where of necessity children are processed (taught) in the most efficient manner possible – efficient for the school, that is. But kids learn in different ways. Some learn visually; some learn hands-on; and some learn kinesthetically. John was clearly a kinesthetic learner.

Thanks to the influence of his parents, this boy was never drugged for the crime of being a boy. Today he’s in college studying civil engineering and is a talented trombone player. He has a wide circle of friends and is well-liked.

Parents, please be like John's mother and father. Sometimes it's easier to go with the words of modern “experts” rather than the tools of common sense that are based on thousands of years of family experience. Let your boys be boys and “bring them up in the way they should go.” That's the best way to turn a boy into a man.


  1. Patrice....I may not see eye to eye with you on politics, climate change and the environment...but you are spot on with this one.

    I loathe drugs of any kind...especially for our children. I feel the earth has provided us with everything that we need naturally to help us...even if it is ADHD. J.

  2. I have five sons. The youngest was a lot like your friend's John. You couldn't get him to sit still and complete anything, even a meal of his favorite food. He ate the last half of it on the run.

    The school, of course, had fits with him. Homework was "lost" on the way home and placement and progress tests came in partially finished. On their famous Iowa Basics evaluation test he didn't even finish writing his name at the top. The insisted on drugging. I refused and took him to a high quality children's hospital for evaluation to see if there was something physically or neurologically wrong.

    While waiting for him to come out of one particular test one day an older woman came to me and sat beside me. She took my hands in hers and patted them. Then she introduced herself. "What I do is evaluate the current and potential knowledge level of people. I study just how much can a person know, in a particular subject and generally, and how quickly can they learn it.

    I have studied many the brilliant scientists of the world today (she dropped names, including Carl Sagan of "Cosmos" fame). have studied writers, doctors, economist, politicians." In the mean time my little edition of John was balancing in the sill of the fifth floor window near us.

    "I have worked with your son for the past hour on math comprehension. He's in fifth grade now, and he firmly understands the concept of math at the first year college level. Can we guess at why he won't do his fifth grade math homework? There are steps that haven't been presented to him yet, but he understand the concept of them already on his own. Like a child who can read very young but doesn't know the details of paragraph construction, your son knows math. He has one of the highest math comprehension levels I have ever seen."

    Needless to say I pulled him out of the school who almost rabidly wanted him drugged. I couldn't afford high-end special schools for him but that woman helped me get a scholarship to an institution better suited to his needs. Today he's teaching Applied Physics at a top private university. Some of his projects for students is building medieval catapults, just for those who want a little excitement in their dull academic life.

  3. Excellent article! Thanks.... As a mother to a 6 year old very active boy I enjoyed reading your article.... ~ Amy

  4. in pre-school my son was showing all the signs of ADHD. thanks to a teacher who didn't believe in drugging boys for being boys, we started looking for alternative causes for his behavior. when we got to food, we took away the sweetened chocolate breakfast cereal, and the chocolate milk, and, almost immediately, had a well behaved, normal child who could sit still and pay attention.
    studies in France, where only 2% of the youth are diagnosed as ADHD, show that diet modification and parental dissaplane are the best treatment for over active, and poorly behaved youth.

  5. While I am not an advocate of "drugging children into submission," I do hope more parents would consider home schooling or other arrangements for the special needs children you describe in your article. When you recommend "changing the educational system or being attentive to individual needs," what would you recommend? Who is going to pay for the extra resources, intervention, and/or one-on-one teachers that these children need? I am a middle school teacher who has an average of 150 students per day in 7 (45 minute) classes. I arrive at school at 7 for early bus duty every day & leave school at 5 because I care. I then do 2-4 more hours of school work at home to serve my students the best I can. I teach an elective class, so I have no help with special needs students who disrupt the learning experience for everyone else. Who is going to clean up the mess when a student squirts their juice to the ceiling? This is a very complex issue that needs careful input from all impacted parties. Public schools are not the best choice for everyone. We need to continue to discuss alternatives when one student compromises the learning opportunity of many others because this isn't reasonable either.

    1. As a former middle school teacher, I dealt with "energy consumer" students every day. You find ways to channel their energy: sorting school supplies, emptying wastebaskets, etc. Out them in charge of SOMETHING, and they will be your most dedicated helper. I gave one student a soft rubber ball he could squeeze silently during class; I gave another permission to go to the back of the room and do jumping jacks when he felt he needed to.

      Believe me, I know you have a lot on your plate, but meeting the needs of students - all students - is your job, however impossible the mandate.

      As far as exploding juice boxes...who cares? In my classroom, we would have had a good laugh, after which I would inform the perpetrator that they would be coming in at lunch to clean up the mess.

      Please don't squeeze the life out of your students by forcing conformity. I know you have to operate within the system, but you have more freedom within the walls of your classroom than you think.

  6. This northeast Hillary-voting liberal completely agrees with you. Our culture is currently toxic to little boys, and it's my belief that the current terrible incidence of mass shootings by teenage boys are a result of it.

  7. A lot of folks think they're smarter than they are. I once told the doctor what I thought was ailing me and he asked self-righteously just how I knew. I told him it was because I'd lived in the same body for 50+ years and knew how it reacted, and that I had a computer the same as he did. I don't go to the guy anymore as he can't usually handle anything that the quick med place can't, and they make better diagnoses.

  8. Hi Patrice,
    I just thought I'd offer up my experience just to sort of flesh out the discussion going on here. My older son has ADHD. I certainly never believed this condition actually existed when he was a baby or toddler, or even a preschooler. And I swore I would never "drug" him. I have homeschooled him since the beginning and he has tons and tons of free time to be a boy on our large property in the country. He eats a healthy, low-sugar, non-processed food diet.

    All that to say, my son needed help. We're not talking about flattened juice boxes here. He was so impulsive that he was a danger to himself. He talked literally non-stop and never even realized it even when we tried to help him moderate. He hated himself and believed he was stupid because he couldn't concentrate enough to learn to read or memorize math facts (age appropriate--I didn't start forcing him to learn before the right time). He absolutely dominated our family dynamic in a negative way, despite the fact that I am far from a liberal and raised him with traditional parenting methods. There was never a moment's peace in our family despite our great love for him.

    I'll never forget the day he had his first ADHD pill. About an hour later, he went and took a puzzle off the shelf and did the whole thing. When he was done, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "momma, I never thought I could do that." He's now on grade level with reading, loves woodworking with his grandpa in the shop every day (something too dangerous before because of lack of impulse control), and never says he's stupid anymore. There is not always peace in our home--hello, we're a country family with 2 boys. But our family isn't ruled by severe ADHD any longer and I'm so grateful.

    My point is, probably there are many, many boys who are being medicated simply because they are boys in suburbia. But there are, absolutely, some boys whose lives and sense of self-worth can be hugely and positively impacted with this medicine. If anyone is reading this with a kid like that, don't feel like a failure.

  9. I raised my grandson, and he, too, exhibited severe ADHD symptoms. I refused medication for quite a while. But when it got to the point that his inability to focus long enough for even the simplist of tasks and it was impacting his confidence and self-image, we went to a special diagnostic clinic. I was much impressed, because they detected the nystagmus that he still had to a small degree. (It was not obvious from casual observation). We did the diet modification, we observed strict schedules for sleep, and he got a mild medication (not Ritalin!). He saw almost immediate changes. He stayed on the meds for about 3 years, and he stopped taking the meds when he began to feel he had control without the pills.

    I saw other kids who became zombie-like from taking Ritalin. I'm glad we were not forced into using that particular med! But I'm also glad we found a different med and lifestyle modifications to use that brought him some relief without the horrible side effects.

  10. I will NOT condemn those who have been in a situation where they needed to medicate their child. There are certainly cases where it may be warranted. My personal experience, my former mother in law pushed and pushed for me to medicate my son. I had a great conversation with his preschool teacher. She had experience with special needs kids, and reassured me that I was correct in my estimation that he was just a boy being a boy. BOY this hits a nerve for me. I encourage parents to look at diet and environment before jumping on the medication bandwagon. Again, there are some who do need it and do better on it. But I am going to throw this one out there too...most of the school shooters were medicated...Please research other options first....

  11. My first experience with ADHD was when my daughter was in elementary school. She had a friend who bounced off the walls. Couldn't sit still, didn't listen to what she was told. So every September her parents put her on meds. One summer, her Mom asked me to babysit, I said sure. Now, during the summer she wasn't medicated. The first day was horrible but enlightening. Her behavior was atrocious. I sat her down and explained to her that we had rules in our house and that behavior wouldn't be allowed. Once the rules were explained to her and reinforced, we never had any of the bad behavior. She was a delightful child. She just needed some rules, direction and someone who wouldn't let her get away with everything. My second experience with ADHD was my grandson. He was diagnosed with ADHD even though I kept telling them that wasn't what was wrong. When our trusted doctor said he thought the medication would help, I agreed to a trial period. As I expected, it didn't help. What it did was turn him into a zombie. We kept searching and finally found a doctor who realized that he had high functioning autism. We have custody of him and his parents were stressing him out horribly. We eventually pulled him out of public school because of a bullying situation. The change in him was amazing. Then his parents dropped out of his life and things got even better. Once we took away all the anxiety causing situations he improved almost miraculously. He still has autism but is able to function much better without the stress. My third experience with ADHD was a friends granddaughter. She was going through a lot and it was decided that she had ADHD and was put on medication. The change in her was unbelievable. She was a clam, warm sweet little girl when she was on her meds. So, I definitely agree that too many children are being medicated for a condition they may not have or need meds for, but there are definitely some children who benefit from the diagnosis and medication.

  12. Patrice, you are right on this one! I'm a Vet who just turned 55 years old and when I was in my youth the old timers would say those boys are full of Piss and Vinegar. Now they want us to put them on drugs and name it ADHD. I've been telling those around me for years that there is no such thing. Like wise with PTSD. Now that being said there are special circumstances,but the Gov and Doctors and Pharmaceutical companies are selling the world a bill of goods for their benefit not the Vets or the children..

  13. Surely John’s parents saw first-hand the merits of homeschooling (by Patrice) and realized that would be far better choice for their son. Yet they chose to force him to be literally held hostage in a government indoctrination center for years. They knew damn well that the system is designed to harm boys like their son.

    I'm sorry but unless there was some valid reason (not mentioned) why homeschooling was not an option, is that not child abuse?

    Dock Guy

  14. First off, I am a pediatrician. I treat kids with ADHD, with and without meds. While there are kids who respond very well, in the sense that they are less frustrated by class and better able to attend, there are others who do not. We do extensive testing prior to medication, which results in probably 1/3 of kids who are referred to us getting medication. Needless to say, we deal with frustrated parents who "just want the child to behave" and have been told that Ritalin will make a child obedient, motivated and intelligent. None of that is true. And if you want to see a parent hit the roof, try meeting with them and telling them that the child they think has "severe ADHD" is normal and they need parenting education. I have been cursed at and had folks leave our practice over it, but I have never (so far) been pressured into medicating a child I did not think would benefit from it. I agree with the criticism of "one size fits all" classroom theory, and the same applies to absolutely anything in the medical realm. There is nothing that applies equally to each and every child, and while it is harder and more labor intensive to individualize treatment, that is the only way to effectively practice medicine.

  15. You have to wonder how many of those hyperactive kids are simply reacting to the synthetic fragrances in their clothes from laundry product fragrances or from air fresheners like Fabreeze??? They are well researched to be toxic and negatively affect children and pets. I took in a "monster cat" who did considerable damage and caused problems in an apartment. She absolutely reeked of Purex and was super hyper; the previous owner told me the cat always slept on her laundry fresh out of the dryer. Once the smell went away, so did all her bad behavior, and she returned to being the sweet, mellow little cat who had been originally adopted. To anyone with hyperactive kids or pets, first rid your house of synthetic fragrances for a couple weeks and see what happens.

  16. I might add...some schools use cleaning products which have synthetic fragrances in the ingredients, and some children are very sensitive. Those "fresh" smelling products can be very toxic.

  17. The same big chemical companies who make synthetic fragrances, also have subsidiaries who make pharmaceuticals. Hmmm... just sayin'.

    1. And Bayer is in the process of closing their purchase of Monsanto. Parents, check at your schools to find out what pesticides may be in use in school hallways or on weeds in the playground.

  18. Been there, thankfully didn't do that.

    I'm comfortably certain that ADHD is a real, actual thing. But, if something "afflicts" approximately 10% of the population, one had to wonder if it's really a "disorder" or just a normal part of human biodiversity.

    God knows I wouldn't change my ADHD hubby for the world. OK, I'd like to feel like he's listening to what I say instead of picking up certain keywords, filling in the blanks, and reacting, but-- said every wife, ever LOL!! All joking aside, his way of thinking works well for us. He thinks fast, I think deep, between us, we've pretty much got it covered.

    I'm glad we chose not to medicate our son. We gave him some time to grow, and he's learning to manage the wild horse that is his brain. Like his father and me (HFA), God made us this way for a reason. I'll trust in God long before I trust in pills (I've tried a fair few in a misguided quest to make myself "normal," with ugly results).

    That said, I think there are times when medication has a place. I've seen it work wonders, in a very few cases. It's vastly overpromoted these days, but not everyone who finds it works for them is zombifying their kid or copping out.

  19. Yep, we would have been encouraged to put two of our three boys on ritalin had they gone to pubic school. They were all homeschooled; they are all smart and talented. They are precious to us, and we didn't want them drugged or made to apologize for their gender. Viva la boys!