A.D.D., Codependency, and a Parent’s Responsibility
I have noticed a trend lately, more so a trend than the growing epidemic it is painted to be. This trend I’m referring to is the ever-growing A.D.D. hysteria. I don’t say this lightly either as I’ve obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Nor am I suggesting that it is not a true disorder, it most certainly is. And as with all disorders, there is certainly no doubt in my mind that this one in particular impairs functioning. However, what intrigues me most about Attention Deficit Disorder is how many people are convinced they have it and, more importantly, how the disorder has come about. Unfortunately, our society has relied so much upon modern technology and modern medicine that these things are not often critically evaluated. The first thing I ask people who tell me they have A.D.D. (or it’s hyperactive variant A.D.H.D.) is whether or not they have been professionally diagnosed with the disorder or if they are just using it as a psychological crutch. I realize now that even a professional diagnosis isn’t always the determining factor, especially when Telepsychiatry and incentivized prescriptions are gaining traction.
So what on earth does any of this have to do with entertainment? Well, a lot actually. You see, as with any growing technological advances, there are certain social drawbacks or disadvantages that come with them. Innovations in the field of electronics for instance have skyrocketed, touchscreens are one of the most popular items on the market. Endless hours of passive entertainment are at your fingertips with tablets, i-pads, touch-phones, kindles, and a variety of other media players. What’s the drawback? For starters, there is lack of social involvement. It is easy to isolate yourself with games, movies and applications on a handheld device which separate you from cooperative physical activities. Kids today are so focused on electronics that the only outdoor activities they concern themselves with is school sports. Secondly, the drive to produce one’s own entertainment through imagination and creativity is stiffened. The Importance of critical thought and self-evaluation is replaced with a passive mind-numbing fixation for codependency. Darlene Lancer in her article entitled Symptoms of Codependency defines it this way:
“Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.”
Instead of another person being the object of codependency, the tablet, i-phone, or other electronic gizmo takes that place. The mother of all ironies is that though we exist in an age of phenomenal, exponential technological advances, which have converted the sum total of human knowledge into a single handheld device — yet we have never been farther from a well-educated and well-informed populace.
The Global movement called DoSomething.org estimates that “Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. About 25% of high school freshmen fail to graduate from high school on time.”
Lastly, codependency upon electronic devices develop an intolerance for the inactive or mundane. Increasingly, I am noticing that more and more parents are using television, movies, and multimedia devices as a substitute for quality one-on-one time they should be investing in their child. It has been proven that children whose parents are actively involved in their lives, fair better in regards to education, esteem and overall life skills.
When parents are absent in the lives of their children and utilize multimedia devices to pacify or subdue their children, they are encouraging both an unhealthy relationship of codependency and are inadvertently fostering an attention deficit disorder. A child who has been conditioned to rely upon the rapid movement of a small portable screen to meet “their emotional and self-esteem needs” can hardly be expected to suddenly switch to focusing on a math paper or school assignment which requires a degree of focus, critical thinking, and independence.
As Christians we are given a charge to be responsible for the upbringing of our children. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the famous Shema passage, we are instructed to point our children to God and His ordinances. The Apostle Paul tells us to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. Instead of putting off the responsibility of our child’s upbringing on schools, teachers and entertainment devices because they are convenient to our busy lifestyle, we should instead readily heed Paul’s charge and make time for quality and constructive developmental practices.
Maybe also instead of labeling these children according to their developed psychological disorders and placing them on powerful psychotropic medications, we can instead recondition discipline, independence, and critical thinking into their lives while fostering back the importance of creativity and exploration.
This can only be effectively implemented if we first remove the unhealthy object of codependency and replace it with quality social interaction so that the subject is forced to develop healthier habits of focus and critical thinking.
Here are some practical suggestions parents can utilize to diminish the chances of their children developing or being diagnosed with A.D.D.:
- Removal of electronic devices from everyday life.
- Limiting the usage of electronics devices.
- Setting age requirements.
- Earning electronic device through work.
- Enforcing and encouraging good old fashioned reading.
- Newspapers, magazines, paperback/hardcover books.
- Age-level research and writing assignments.
- Providing opportunities for creativity.
- Making crayons, pencils and paper always accessible.
- Organizing craft times.
- Encouraging hobbies like painting, drawing or music.
- Encourage outdoor exploration.
- Hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, etc.
- Family field trips
- Fair, zoo, water park, memorial, museum, etc.
- Encourage daily exercise.
- Jogging, biking, skating, etc.
- Committing to social activities
- Church functions
- Boy/Girl scouts
- 4H or other agricultural events
- Choir or band
- Encouraging activities that help develop focus and creativity
- Word games like crossword puzzles, scrabble, etc.
- Puzzles, legos, models
- Strategic board games and card games
- Trivia games like Jeopardy, Pictionary, etc.
 Ephesians 6:4