Tag Archives: France

French kids don’t have ADHD? Well, mine does.

22 Jun

An article from Psychology Today was published last year. It was called “Why French kids don’t have ADHD” and it resurfaced a couple of weeks ago on Facebook.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd

Now you might not know me at all or maybe just a little but you should at least know these 2 things about me:

1. I’m french.

2. I have a kid with ADHD.

Obviously, it appears to be a shaky start for the writer of this article because I am the living proof that French kids can have ADHD. Maybe it is because we live in a plagued-by-ADD South Africa, or maybe because we are the exception to the rule – since French love exceptions. 

A few of my friends shared that article with me and wanted to know whether it’s true (Don’t they know the first 2 things about me??) My first two reactions were:

1. Mwahahahahahahahahaha! (after reading the title)

2. Roll of the eyes (after reading the article)

But being french with an ADHD kid, I felt compelled to look deeper into the article.

Marylin Wedge, the writer of the article, starts by comparing how ADHD is labeled differently in the US and in France. On one hand, the US  call it a biological disorder, treated with medication like Ritalin, while in France, it is considered a  psychological disorder, treated with counselling. The difference is ‘treating the symptoms’ vs ‘treating the cause/ root of the problem’, the difference between ‘chemical’and ‘psychological’.

I don’t really want to dissect the article (you’re disappointed, I know!) because the topic of ADHD is so vast and so controversial that even after reading up so much on it, even after living with an ADHD boy for 8 years, I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge to do it justice. However, reading the writer’s observations about the french way of raising children (2nd-hand observations, taken from a french book), it made me think about what I observed; first, as a French person raised the ‘French way’ and second, as a mother of an ADHD precious boy.

The part of her article that makes me uncomfortable is when she states that French kids are better behaved than American ones.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

I would argue that it is debatable. The French society is without a doubt much less permissive than the American one. When I go back to France for holidays, I am always reminded (‘shocked’ is a more accurate word) of all the rules – said or assumed – that my children are expected to follow. Starting with wearing shoes (winter or summer), not walking more than 3 feet away from me, not climbing, jumping, leaning over or reaching for anything higher that their knee-level, sitting quietly at a restaurant, not speaking too loud or making sudden moves… I find that often kids have to live through the old adage of ‘being seen, not heard’. In my observations, the discipline that the writer mentions is not a thought-through decision taken for the sake of the child but rather a discipline enforced when the child’s behaviour becomes inconvenient for the parents.

Every child is off to school from 3 years old until 18, 8.30am to 4.30pm, 4 and a half day a week. If they are not ‘Sage comme une image’ ( literally ‘as well-behaved as a picture’), they’ll quickly learn. The way kids were brought up 50 years ago is the way that they are raised today because, after all, why change something that worked so well at the beginning of last century?

It might seem strange that I would take a stab at the french way of raising children. Being French myself, I’m sure that I have – consciously or not – adopted some of the French behaviour, even when it comes to raising kids. A friend of mine has been incredibly helpful when my kids were younger, reminding me that it should be an age-appropriate discipline. In other words, expect a 2 year old to behave like a 2 year old!

The writer seems to imply that this strict discipline is what saved France from the ADHD that afflicted other countries.

For me personally, I rewind a couple of years: the year my son turned 5, the year we took the decision to try out Ritalin for our ADHD son. A decision not taken lightly, a decision that came after taking him out of his preschool because the teacher asked us to, a decision that came after having him assessed by a paediatric neurologist, a decision taken after realising the impact that his behaviour had on the rest of our family, a decision taken not just for my sake, but also for his.

When parents – and I include myself – find that no strategic parenting style seems to work the way it should, when your child is unable to sit still long enough to learn, when his relationships with friends, siblings and parents suffer because of his lack of impulse control… when these parents turn to the help of Ritalin for the sake of not only the ADHD child but also everyone else in the family, I cannot but roll my eyes at this kind of article.

I do not know whether the french society has less ADHD kids or whether they suppress their symptoms and spirits through rules and punishment. What I know for certain is that there is a place for Ritalin for those overwhelmed children who suffer academically, socially and emotionally. I know for certain that Ritalin brought balance into my son’s life and into our home and I know for certain that he is grateful that there is a medication out there to help him control his emotions.

I know what I aimed to achieve when I put my son on Ritalin. I am confused as to what the writer aimed to achieve with her article.

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France baby!!

3 Mar

Tonight it is from France that I’m writing. I know that you’ve all been dying to hear from me because my life is that interesting. Usually it would be a sarcastic comment (because my real name is Inks Sarcastic VB – I know you’re jealous right now!) but today, it is not. After all, I am in a hotel, in Carcassonne, with my only daughter, and my mum and Claude in the bedroom next door. Not too shabby!!

Rewind a few couple of days and the beginning of the big surprise for my mum’s birthday started. In a plane from Cape Town to Nice. Without a tribe to look after, only my very compliant, easy going little girl. What an easy trip it would be: no running after an hyperactive boy, no troop-motivating-general for my I-prefer-the-sitting-position other boy and no holding the vomit bag for my motion sickness husband. No wonder people think women should rule the universe!!

Anywhoo, I wondered who would be sitting next to me in the plane. My daughter’s only request was the window seat so I feared sitting next to a smelly man or a chatty woman. Don’t you hate people that try to make conversation in a plane? I’m not a fan, trying to hear what they say and smiling and nodding. But luckily, the Lord knew that my biggest need at that point was a quiet trip. The guy that sat next to me was a man (grandpa age, to reassure my jealous husband who thinks that men are just out to get me!) who was neither smelly nor chatty. In fact, I seriously doubted he was alive, were it not for him making a move towards his fork. He didn’t move, he didn’t look at his tv screen, he didn’t go to the toilet nor did he use his blanket. The only proof I had that he was in fact human was that he ate – everything on his tray.

Lea stared at her screen and slept. And I stared at my screen and tried to sleep.  I envy all those people who can sleep seated. Maybe my neck is abnormal but my head falls forward making me look stupid and half dead.

Otherwise apart for the hour late departure from London to Nice, it was a very uneventful trip.

That's us - 20 hours after departure. It's our best side.

That’s us – 20 hours after departure. It’s our best side.

Forum Julii

29 Jun

aka Fréjus – France. Three years later…

A picture descriptive of our holidays!

Sandy and happy

We arrived on Saturday, white and tired. By Sunday, we were less tired, more red and very sandy. As always, our holidays in France are characterized by sun and beach. No time to waste!

Léa and Matt, watching sandcastle disappear to the sea

That is Matty in a nutshell!!

It was Mother’s Day the first day after we arrived: the best gift I could give my mum! We spent the day at the beach Base Nature, all together, Goway (the dog) included!

We managed to get burned on our first day. I (stupidly) thought that the June sun is mild enough to go without any protection… ah ah! It set the tone for the rest of our time there! It also gave plenty of material to tease Phillip and his peeling state 🙂

On Fréjus, St-Raphaël, Ste-Maxime, St-Tropez…

23 May

 

Look at this map. Do you see St-Raphaël? Do you see Fréjus?

It’s not just a map with names. It might mean nothing to you, but to me, it’s my entire childhood, right into adulthood!! This is where we are going in exactly 9 days!!!!

**happy face**

 

And then zoom out…. and you get this:

In the foreground, the harbour, in the background the cathedral and all the intricate pedestrian streets where I have so many fond memories!

Now I thought I was excited at the idea of going!  But what I see in my children’s eyes when we start talking about the imminence of our trip is the delight of their own memories and what France means to them: the walks to the beach, Marineland, Luna Park, Mamie’s apartment and the big garden downstairs, the ice-creams, the evening outings, the plane trip (!!)…

And I’m excited at the idea of building more memories this year, with new places to enjoy. This time we’re even going to camp…

And I look at the countdown roster that they each made,

…and I know that we are ALL ready to go. Countdown 9. 8. 7. 6….

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