Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a nephew whom I dearly love and see maybe once a month for
a play date, and at family events. He’s bright, inquisitive, and yes a
little hyper-active, though I tend to attribute that to the types of
activities he and I enjoy together: sports, activity parks, exercising the
dog, etc. For the record I do not have children of my own, though I
have been an elementary school teacher for fifteen years and see lots
of kids his age. I have also seen a national epidemic of drugging our
children as a behavioral management technique. I do not approve of
this and was horrified when my sister told me that they had decided to
put David on meds. I’ll spare you all the research but it boils down to
this: it’s not good for children to be medicated so young, causes
developmental issues, rebound actions when the meds are withdrawn
or changed, and starts a whole cycle of intractable problems. My first
response to my sister was “Wow. That’s a lot to take in.” Should I tell
her what I really think or not.


Dear Horrified:

When I was young, so many decades ago, school days had morning
and afternoon recess, art classes, music classes, and physical
education as part of the school day. We spent our non-school, non-
homework time, playing with neighborhood children in large groups:
riding bikes, playing hide and seek, dodge ball, hopscotch, marbles,
etc We played a lot and burned of lots of energy, which it sounds like
your nephew needs to do.

Ultimately parents have the right to decide what medications their
child takes. I’ll give your sister the benefit of the doubt and assume
that she has consulted with her pediatrician. You risk a major family
rupture by flat-out disagreeing with her or telling her she is doing
something harmful to her son. I’d start with, Are you open to a
discussion or more information? Assuming you can get a yes , tell her
you’d like some time to google with her, and also to discuss exploring
some options like counseling or behavioral interventions as a first step,
because the side-effects are hard to reverse. Hope she says yes and
observe how things go. Speak up again if you see anything troubling.