Monday, January 26, 2009

Help Please! Husband in Denial!

Recently I received an email from Liz, a mother of two from New York who has been very concerned about her first grader whom she is currently having evaluated for ADHD. Things could be moving more smoothly but she just can't get on the same page as her husband. Here is an excerpt of her email to me. Many of us have been in her shoes.

“ ... In my heart of hearts, I feel that it is a neurological issue that we will need to address at some point with medication. We aren't there quite there yet, but it's coming. My husband and I disagree on putting him on medication and it has caused many recent late night arguments. While I understand some of his points, what frustrates me the most, is that my husband is complete denial. He tries to make it seem that our son is perfectly fine and that everyone else is the problem! It has put a tremendous strain on our marriage recently.....”

There are few things more frustrating than a spouse's denial. What do you do? Do you wait until he comes around? Do you go behind his back and see a specialist anyway and spend the family money doing it? Do you make him his favorite dinner and then try to soften him up to agree with you? And how do you keep yourself from throwing things at him while he lets your child continue to suffer by doing nothing?

I admit, I had my own period of denial but I got over it fast enough. However, my husband's denial lasted longer than mine and it frustrated me to no end. Nevertheless, I refused to move forward until we were on the same page and it did cost Logan some lost time in special ed school and gave me huge stress because I had to advocate and try to expedite his evaluation and placement process. I can't say I did the right thing by waiting for a consensus between us. I'm just glad he finally came around.

Do you have any advice for Liz? We really need your thoughtful suggestions to help get Liz's husband out of denial and on the same page. Whether you've been in this situation or not, I'm sure you can send her some words of encouragement and advice.

(Pictured above: Hang on Liz. Things will get better. My husband, the man you see above used to think that psychologists were only out to take your money and now here he is chatting with Spencer's ABA therapist, Natalia Cardenas, after watching an ABA session for the first time. I think he was really blown away by what she was able to make Spencer do.)

Hope you can send some wisdom and encouragement for Liz. Your kindness would be greatly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain Liz. At times these same issues separate my husband and I, we never see eye to eye but it has gotten better. Neither of us believe in meds, he doesn't think it's ADHD, I'm on the fence. I researched, spent hours on the computer, I changed diet and there are tremendous improvements. We argue less but he doesn't agree that diet changed the behaviors when it's obvious. I stand by feeding the kids clean foods and he gives them M&M's at Christmas. We have 2 children that have been helped by diet and yes a year of growing up but it's still a very sore subject here. You are not alone in a one sided battle no matter what side you are on. I've found picking my battles, my words and how much of a story to tell are key. As things got better we as a family got better, but it's never easy. Take a look at and you can see my blog, you can see some of my before and after issues; however I don't keep up with it nearly as good as Jenn does. Way to go on the blog Jenn.

Anonymous said...

Hey Liz,

My husband and I went through the same thing. I didn't realize he didn't approve of the Meds until we went to a therapist to have our son evaluated. We were at such a loss because in the first 5 weeks of Kindergarden he was suspended 3 time and pretty much in school suspension the rest of the time. He even got to the point where his self esteeme was so bad he was wetting himself during the day. Hubbys solution is that he has to suck it up and learn to deal with the real world.

Luckily our Therapist made it clear he was against meds also and only thought of it as a last resort. Unfortunatley our Therapist came out with his eyes popping out and made the comment some times it is a dis-service to NOT medicate them. So we started the meds and changed schools to a Christian school where they prayed with him versus suspending.

Things have gotten so much better and when I later asked the hubby about it, if he still felt that way, he said to just leave things the way they were with meds and the school. Occasionally he doesn't give him the meds on weekends and then is totally frustrated with him and yelling at him.

We had issues with him not eating and growing. We now have another medication we take at night and it is making a world of difference. Helps him to sleep and eat. I didn't know that he wasn't sleeping either. Make sure you little one is getting a goods night sleep. They think that may have something to do with ADHD also.

I really do suggest you join the yahoo group ADHD-ODD. The people on there are wonderful and you have a wide range of opinions from no meds, to med. They also explore different options. Good luck and if you every want to chat more, please email me.


Jenn said...

I totally agree that the ADD-ODD yahoogroup is so wonderful. You also offered to talk to Liz via email but left your post anonymous. If you still want to, why don't you email me (go to my profile page) and send me your email address and I'll forward it to Liz. Thanks to all who are helping. I love it when we help each other! Also Liz, I belong to the and These are all great groups.

Break-A-LegNMD said...

Wow, i have been there and done that. I was cionfused at first then I wantd to try meds. My sons dad did not want to try meds. He didn't come around until he had trouble in several schools and he started to think maybe it's time to consider meds. Before medicating, see a good psychiatrist. Get more than one opinion if possible. Some kids may ave ADHD but others (like my son) could have something else and ADHD medication might not even work. I would tr to convince your husband to go with you to see a doctor. I don't know where you live, but here in MD, they have something called "mobile crisis" where if there is trouble int he home, the resource people will come out to your home/school to try to diffuse he situation and give you resources. If your child is acting out in schooland it becomes worse, they coul refer him to a school for children with emotional problems (which may not be an appropriate environment) and it may not be beneficial to your childs learning. If possible, try family counseling. You may be able to come to a compromise with a neutral third party. It is a hard road, but be persistent. If your son's behavior gets worse, do not hesitate toseek professional help. He may hurt someone or himself, and you want him to be safe.

Liz said...

Wow! Thanks for all of the comments/suggestions. It really does help to know that I am not the only one that has dealt with this issue.

I did make some major changes to my son’s diet about 2 weeks ago – basically cut out the sugar and quick micro waved meals and starting cooking every night.

Sometimes, it’s overwhelming – I work full time, need to devote an hour to homework every night, get dinner on the table, etc… I try and do the best I can! I think I see some improvements with his focusing issues, but the true test will be when meet with his teacher next week.

I will definitely join the user groups you mentioned. Jenn - thanks for posting the topic, I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz

I think of ADHD this way

If your child had to wear glasses would you deprive them of it because someone else didnt believe he needed them cause he can see sometimes?

If your child was a diabetic which is a chemical imbalance would you say NO he cant have insulin..

Adhd is also a chemical imbalance where the brain doesnt produce enough Dompamine to keep them balanced.

So how do we teach our children the basics of society when they cannot retain the information for 30 seconds?

Its hard, its time consuming, meds like above dont always work, but if you have trialed diet, exercise and natural remedies all to little avail the next unavoidable step is medication.

Let me state here and now my son is almost 13 and has been on meds since he was 7( i fought fought them since he was 5). I DONOT like doing it but there came a time where an education and learning was more important than the stigma attached to medicating a child.

I hate going back to the various Dr;s and saying he has outgrown the meds AGAIN..

But it helps him learn, it helps him be able to particpate in school and scouts activities and do simple things like the rubbish and cleaning his room... without me telling him 60 times first!

Long term i hope he will have learnt all the skills necessary not to take medication in adulthood, but only maturity (which can be upto 4 years behind in these kids) will we be able to tell whether he can ever go off meds.

For his sake i sure hope he can, but when we get to that stage we will see how we go,.

Your husband is possible against it because the characteristics he sees in his son are possibly the same issues he had as a child, he got by so why shouldnt his son ... :o(

Member ADD-ADHD Parents Support Group

Jenn said...

Jewelly made a really great point. My husband had sensory issues and learning problems (he doesn't remember what kind) as a child and you would think he'd be first in line to get him some extra help but he was really my first roadblock into getting Logan evaluated. It doesn't make sense but I think I was opening up a part of him he had buried a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

ADHD isn't like diabetes and it isn't like being blind. I have it, my mom had it, my kids have it. I managed to get 2 bachelor's degrees and half a masters. If you give them chemical crutches, they will never learn the coping skills they need. That being said, I have chosen to medicate 2 out of my 5 sons, only for school days to keep them from getting so far behind. Medication should be a last resort, after behavior mod, diet mods, restoring normal sleep and neurofeedback training.

I agree with your husband that many things that used to be associated with being young or being a boy are now treated like pathology. Creating "diseases" to sell more drugs is pretty sick.

Muriel aka, Dr. Mom Owner of ADHD-ODD group at Yahoo.

Anonymous said...

Ahh....the every ending dilemma of spouses in denial. I have a 3 1/2 year old with autism, and my husband spent the first year in denial. He thought I was crazy for doing the whole early intervention thing. He was ANGRY when I took him to a developmental pediatrician, and disagreed with everything she had to say. The point is, it seems that every parent goes through this. I just didn't allow it to hinder my son's therapy and care. I let me husband disagree, and we agreed to disagree (okay I blew up at him a few times and told him to pull his head out of his butt, but who cares). I basically told him okay, what if I am wrong? What if there is nothing wrong with him. Then we've wasted time giving him therapy and treatment. But what if you are wrong? What if he does have autism? Are you willing to suffer the repercutions of NOT doing anything early on, when everyone agrees the most help can be made for kids with autism? That at least got my husband to shut up and a year later he finally is no longer in denial. Good luck to you, and stay strong for your child's sake.

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