Parenting

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Parenting.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

― Margaret Mead

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

― Albert Einstein

“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”

― Jane Goodall

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Side effects by being impregnated by a Methcathinone user? – Morning Question #20

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Counseling questions

Counseling questions.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Should you worry if you get pregnant by a Methcathinone user?

Anything that damages an egg or the sperm could result in birth defects, age, the physical health of either party and so on. There is always a risk of spontaneous mutations and genetic damage. I have not seen much good research that indicates that one drug is better or worse than another when used by the father.

ANY drug use by the mother during pregnancy is risky. Sorry ladies. Doctors even take pregnant women off some prescribed medications. Alcohol is the biggest risk factor for preventable birth defects we know of. The only fully safe amount of alcohol a woman should consume during pregnancy is NONE!

If you are worried about the drug use of the father of your child you have more to worry about than possible birth defects. YOUR BABY’S DADDY MIGHT BE A DRUG ADDICT.

Pick your babies daddies and mamma’s wisely, you can break up with your partner but your child’s other parent is forever.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

ADHD epidemic rages out of control – News Update

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

ADHD?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Almost all U. S. children infected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In my morning news was the startling report that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is spreading among America’s children (AHRQ, September 2012.) It now appears likely that all U. S. Children will not be able to pay attention sufficiently to grow into mature adults.

In a short ten-year period (2000 to 2010) the number of ADHD-related visits to doctors’ offices increased by a whopping 68%. During the much longer decade of the 1960’s, most doctors office visits centered on getting children off drugs.

If I read those news statistics right, in just four of those recent years (2003-2007) 5.4 million children caught a case of ADHD.

So far this epidemic has been confined to the United States. The United Kingdom and northern Europe have not yet seen a flood of ADHD cases, but given the prevalence of internet viruses, the impact of this epidemic may soon be felt worldwide.

This problem has become so severe that two and three-year-old’s are now being brought in for diagnosis and medication to improve their attention. The fear has become that some children may forget how to grow older if they do not get medications.

The magnitude of this crisis has required that an army of child psychiatrist be redeployed from less serious issues like schizophrenia and suicidal depression to facing the onslaught of pediatric ADHD.

The news release on this topic reports that the huge increase in public education of ADHD may have led parents, children and providers to identify conditions that previously would have been dismissed as behavioral and conduct disorders to now be attributed to ADHD.

Over this time period while we have been spending an increasing share of our resources on fighting a war on stimulant abuse in adults, from 87% to 98% children identified with ADHD have been prescribed amphetamine-like stimulant ADHD medication. If amphetamines have been so effective in improving attention and behavior in children it is hard to understand why the widespread use of Methamphetamines has not eliminated the occurrence of adult crime.

In fairness to the manufacturers of stimulant ADHD medications, the evidence does not indicate that childhood use of stimulant ADHD medications increases adult drug abuse.

This huge rise in the number of American Children leads me to several possible Hypotheses.

1. All children have ADHD and should receive a prescription for medication at the time of birth.

OR

2. Children are inherently young and immature and no amount of effort on our part will get children to act like responsible adults until they have in fact grown old enough to legally be adults.

In support of hypothesis two I note that in countries where children start school at older ages, they have significantly less ADHD. Also, children, who receive more exercise and are allowed to waste time at recess on physical activity, are better able to sit quietly in class. Classrooms which eliminate recess to increases classroom time and test scores are those that have higher rates of ADHD.

All that said, with tongue protruding from my cheek, I do believe there legitimately are cases of ADHD and those with ADHD are vastly helped by medication. My concern continues to be that we are trying to medicate our way out of family, societal, and economic problems, lack of quality education and efforts to raise test schools by excessive expectations of very young children rather than more educational opportunity as the school experience progresses.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Mania in children?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Person with masks

Bipolar.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do children really have mania?

Parents bring children into the emergency rooms and the psychiatric facilities because their child “flips out” and begins damaging property. Say the child begins breaking out all the windows in a row of buildings. They are angry and out of control. Efforts to get them to stop are unsuccessful and they may continue even when threatened with violence. Is this an early sign that the child has Bipolar disorder?

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in children is highly controversial. To make that diagnosis we need to know if children really have episodes of mania or hypomania. No mania and there should be no Bipolar Diagnosis. Anger and mania are related; they may overlap but are they part of the same thing? The researchers in this area are clearly not in agreement. I will save my opinion for the end.

Children have temper outbursts. If we reduce the level of symptoms needed to include those outbursts as a mental illness all children would get the label and the diagnoses would become meaningless.

To be considered Mania it should last 7 days, for Hypomania an episode needs to last for at least four days. This rules out all those brief temper outbursts from consideration.  It also excludes those times when any and all of us might have a time period of excitement when we sleep less or are excited to pursue a new activity, like a new love interest.

Recently there has been an increase in the use of the Bipolar NOS diagnoses in children because this allows for some judgment calls as to the length of episode needed to make the diagnosis. One study (Stringaris et al. 2010) looked at children who had been diagnosed with Bipolar and concluded there was no evidence of mania in children under the age of thirteen, meaning no child that young should be getting the diagnosis of Bipolar. Other researchers disagree.

Stringaris did find that of those children who had brief episodes, too brief to meet criteria for a hypomanic episode, fully 25% did go on to develop all the symptoms needed to diagnose Bipolar Disorder within two years. His conclusion is that we should wait until the teen years and the full criterion is met before diagnosing Bipolar Disorder.

This is a problem for me. Why would we begin treating a child if they do not have an illness? No diagnosis no treatment. So to get the family the help they need, we need the diagnosis. If not Bipolar Disorder then what would we call this child’s problem? Also, the study tells us that 25% of these brief episodes will develop symptoms in 2 years. What about 10 years or 20?  I have not yet found research that answers those questions.

Early onset researchers come up with a different answer. Telling us that – Mania, Bipolar one, mostly starts in the adolescent period (McNamara, 2010.) This study goes on to cite 6 factors that may constitute risk factors for the early development of Bipolar Disorder.

One significant risk factor is a history of being the victim of abuse and neglect. We know that early childhood experiences can induce changes in the wiring of the brain. So can later life traumas. Psycho-social stressors are also listed as risk factors. These are also risk factors for personality disorders and other mental illnesses.

This tells us that experience and learning can be risk factors for developing Bipolar Disorder.

A family history of Bipolar is also a risk factor. Not just family members living in the home, but first-degree family members who have any mood disorder, whether in the home or not, appear to increase the risk of developing Bipolar.

That says that heredity is a risk factor for Bipolar Disorder.

A history of substance abuse, prescribed antidepressants and stimulants and dietary deficiencies all have been implicated as having a connection to Bipolar disorder.

See: Do medications and drugs cause Mania or Bipolar Disorder and other Co-occurring blog posts

Lastly, McNamara sums up the argument for diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in children by saying that most people who go on to get the diagnosis had “prodromal” or early symptoms 10 full years before they were diagnosed.

We know from other mental health research that the sooner an illness is recognized and treated the better the chance of a full recovery.

My opinion

Children who have a brief – one day temper or behavioral outburst are unlikely to be having Bipolar disorder. This is anger or bad behavior and you should try treating them for anger and behavior first. But the pattern needs monitoring.

There are dangers from over treating psychiatric illnesses in children and there are dangers of under-treating. Pick a provider you trust and listen to their advice and judgment. I especially recommend a consultation with a child psychiatrist whenever possible.

Don’t adopt a wait and attitude, even if you decide to skip the medication for now, if your child has these kinds of symptoms get the child counseling or therapy.

Care to share or comment?

Has your child had outbursts that looked like mania or hypomania and have you considered the possibility they may have Bipolar disorder?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Have you lost your child forever? Parenting after being away.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Children working

Parentified child.
Photo courtesy of pixabay

How do you reconnect with your children if you have been away a long time?

Recovering people have often been away from their children for extended periods of time, in jail and prison, in rehab programs or just gone doing their drug of choice. When you have been away from your children for a while, parenting can be especially difficult. Over time they change, you change and the situation changes also. Here are some thoughts on making the transition back home.

The reunification challenges are greatly increased if your child has been in foster care or their other parent has started a new relationship. You may be the biological parent but someone else has been there raising this child while you were gone.

You need their permission to reconnect.

Just being the biological parent does not give you the right to force your way back into their life. Time changes people. Painful as it may be for you, the process needs to move at the child’s pace, not the pace you would want.

The longer you have been away the more your children will have changed. You can’t expect to pick up where you left off. We tend to remember things the way they were and forget how much they will have changed.

Short separations don’t pose the problems that longer separations do. Several clients, I have worked with were away from a decade or more. That cute five-year-old who was starting kindergarten when you went away, would be a teenager now. Your “little girl” may have a boyfriend, piercings and a whole lot of habits you wish she hadn’t picked up. She won’t take kindly to you coming back after all this time wanting to change her life.

You need to figure out how you fit into the child’s life, not the other way around.

What they went through left wounds.

You may have changed but the only memory they have of you is the way things were. Drug addicts with three days clean wonder why the family can’t forgive them, after all, they quit right? One way people protect themselves is to hold on to that anger or resentment. For some kid,s that has turned to indifference. You left them, whether you chose to or not. Seeing you again can be like being grabbed where the broken bone still hasn’t healed.

They have had to adjust.

Adjusting for the child means developing new relationships. Someone has cared for them, seen that they were fed, taken care of them when they were sick. They got close to that person. They have come to love that person and trust them. They owe that person some loyalty. Reconnecting with you can make them feel like they are betraying the one who cared for them while you were away.

Now suddenly you want them to forget the person who raised them and follow you blindly?  Why should they trust you? You weren’t there?

This is a huge problem if their other parent has started a new relationship. Papernow has written about step-families and tells us that with blended families the new spouse is always an outsider. The parent and the children had a relationship first and the new spouse came second.

If you have been away for a long time you may be in the position of the new stepparent with your own biological children. The child has developed a relationship with their other parent’s new partner. The one who was there all those years has been the one that went to their school activities and played with them.

Biological parent or not you are the new person in the child’s life, and to make it more difficult you are not even living in the house now.

To rebuild this relationship will take time, lots of time and that time will have to fit into your child’s life and their family’s life, not yours.

Reconnecting needs to be a priority.  Lots of people in early recovery fantasize about having those great relationships with their children, the reality is that it takes lots of work and it will probably not live up to your expectations. Lots of people give up. I commend those who are so determined that they stick with the process even when it is less fulfilling than they had hoped.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Turning into our parents

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Family

Family.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why do we become our parents?

Heard the story about the person who yells at their kid only to hear their parent’s voice coming from their mouth? As we age we tend to imitate the behavior of those we saw and learned from back in our younger days. For some people, this brings a chuckle, a realization that we have moved from being kids who can’t understand why our parents did something to adults who do the same things for the same reasons.

For some people turning into your parent brings terror.

There was a time when we thought all parents were great role models. At least that was what “Leave it to Beaver” portrayed. If parents were less than perfect we didn’t talk about that. Things were great in the country and then the suburbs. Those bad things only happen to others, the ones who lived in big cities.

Today the majority of us live in big cities and now we know that for all our efforts to pretend those things didn’t happen they did and still do. More people are telling me these days that their parents did drugs, molested them and deserted them. Today we know that in the rural towns young people are dying from overdoses of pills and parents abuse and neglect their children when they do drugs. Today we don’t hide the abuse and pain, and more of us are mandated reporters.

People will accuse me of being jaundiced when I say these things. They tell me there are still people who want to be just like mom or dad. It helps to hear those stories. It makes me hope. Maybe we can teach people to be better parents. Maybe we can treat addiction and mental illness. Maybe we can have a future that is brighter than the present.

Then I talk with another person who was abused or molested or neglected as a child. They tell me that their parent was too into drugs or alcohol or some other thing to care about them. I see lots of grandparents raising their children’s children. I ask how this happened.

Grandma or grandpa or both, they used to do drugs. They got clean and sober just in time to raise the grandkids. It pains them to see their children repeating the same mistakes.

A client tells me they remember how it affected them when their parents did these things. Then they cry and tell me they are doing those same things, they are becoming just like their parents, and not in a good way.

People work hard sometimes, they deny themselves and they buy their kids everything, toys, gadgets, clothing. Then the child does drugs or falls into gangs. That child might tell us that they had things but they never felt loved. They got into relationships, sick abusive drug involved relationships. They still don’t feel loved.

They have children. Sometimes they straighten up for the kids. Sometimes society takes the kids away. The girl whose mother drank during pregnancy, the girl with permanent disabilities as a result of her mother’s drinking. She tells me she doesn’t know why she started drinking. Why couldn’t she stop drinking for her child?

For better or worse sometimes we turn into our parents. What kind of parent do you want your children to become?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How safe if your young child from drugs?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Drugs

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you keeping your child away from drugs?

We would like to think that we can keep our children safe. We expect drug use to be something teens or young adults might do. Not young children. The truth is that younger and younger children are trying drugs. Most kids have been exposed to drugs and alcohol by the end of the third grade. Even kids from drug and alcohol-free homes are at risk. If you are thinking “my kids would never do drugs” you may be fooling yourself.

If you are thinking alcohol, that’s not a drug, think again. Any alcohol use by an eight-year-old is a problem. The younger they begin to use drugs, the more likely there will be problems. Not just the problem of addiction but also changes in emotions and learning. The more a student drinks the lower the GPA they will have. One study said “F” students drink on average twice what “A” student’s drink.

Very young kids get their first drugs at home.

First experiences with drugs frequently happen at home. Sneaking some of their parent’s cigarettes or alcohol is many a child first experience with drugs. That half-consumed beer or the carelessly left pack of cigarettes is an easy way to get started. But there are bigger dangers lurking even if the parents don’t smoke or drink.

Early grade kids get their drugs under the kitchen sink or in the garage.

Those cleaning solvents, the gasoline, the spray paint, all these things can be used to inhale or huff. Spray cans are an easy way to alter consciousness. A lot of inhalant abuse goes unnoticed by parents who think “no not my child” until it has caused permanent health problems.

It is not the “pusher” that gets your kid on drugs.

We used to think that there were unscrupulous people out there trying to get our kids hooked on drugs. Truth is most people are introduced to drugs by a close friend or family member. Boys are often started off by an older male cousin or uncle; girls learn drug use from an old sister, aunt or their first boyfriend.

Most kids who use drugs on a daily basis tell me that at first, they didn’t have to pay for it. Friends gave it to them for free. Later on, the circle of friends began to pool their money to buy it. It is not until the drug habit gets regular and expensive that the kid has to come up with the money to pay.

Street drugs are not the biggest part of the problem

Abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise. In a previous post “Grandma is the drug connect”  I wrote about how unknowing family members, grandma, in particular, are becoming the drug supplier of choice for today’s teen.

When it comes to drug overdoses street drugs are way behind prescription drugs as a cause of death.

So have you really thought about this problem of young kids doing drugs? Just how sure are you that your child is safe from drugs?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Caustic Bath Salts Kill

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

New drugs

Bath salts.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Calling these things bath salts is fiction if I ever heard a fanciful tale.

There are also called plant foods. No one I know of is putting this stuff in water and plants that get this stuff aren’t long for this world. What these so-called “bath salts” do is put people in the hospital emergency room. Sometimes they are fatal.

By calling them bath salts or plant food and putting a notice on the label that says “not intended for human consumption” the manufacturers and sellers of these products are getting around the Controlled Substances Act. These products are often found in head shops and boutiques along with glass pipes and “body detox” products. That the sellers know what people will do with these products is clear.

There are no specific ingredients for these products and manufacturers keep changing their formula to keep ahead of the laws. In the process, one key ingredient is becoming the dominant one. Most of the bath salts contain Methcathinone in one form or another.

Don’t confuse Methcathinone with Methamphetamine or Methadone. Pseudoephedrine is a precursor for both Methcathinone and Methamphetamine but the similarities don’t go much farther than that.

Dr. Smith of the Cookeville (Tennessee) Regional Medical Center wrote a two-part series on bath salts recently which appeared in the drugfree.org newsletter. He reports that the effects of Methcathinone are like those of Ecstasy (MDMA) in the early stages but as time goes on the effects become more like Methamphetamine. While Methcathinone was a rare event in the past Dr. Smith reports that he regularly sees people in the emergency room as a result of bath salts.

Methcathinone is a synthetic version of Khat which I mentioned in my recent post 7 New drugs Parents should be aware of.

The effects Dr. Smith reported seeing in the ER from bath salt users included sweating, high body temperature, high blood pressure, low thirst, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, violence and self-injurious behavior, including suicidal thoughts and actions.

Deaths have been reported as a result of smoking bath salts, but how common this is, remains unknown. Most toxicology screens are not intended to pick up these rapidly changing synthetic chemicals and they are probably being under-reported.

A further concern is that people who buy their drugs in head shops are consuming an ever-increasing number of synthetic chemicals. The belief here, especially among teens is that since they are being sold legally they are safe or relatively safe. Most young people have no sense of the amount of risk they are taking by using these products.

Adding to their popularity is the belief, not always correctly, that these products will not show on a drug test and therefore are not going to cause any problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a report to physicians on spotting the side effects from smoking synthetic drugs. These drugs, particularly “synthetic marijuana” or synthetic cannabinoids resulted in over 4,500 calls to poison control centers in the United States in a one year period.

Among the reported symptoms of high levels of synthetic cannabinoids are agitation, excess sweating and inability to speak.

The sale and use of synthetic recreational drugs, both bath salts, and synthetic marijuana, is an evolving problem which is currently poorly recognized or treated.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Blaming obese older parents.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Older people

Elderly couple.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do overweight older parents produce kids with birth defects?

There have been a lot of articles recently telling us that older parents are more likely to have children with autism, schizophrenia and birth defects. Is this true? And if it is true how do we explain what is going on here. Clearly, not every older parent has a child with a mental illness or birth defects. Nor do all offspring from obese parents develop autism or schizophrenia, not by a long shot. But the studies suggest an increased risk here. What is really going on? Here is my oversimplified counselor – metaphor explanation.  For a more scientific explanation, you may want to talk with or read doctors and geneticists explanations.

My grandmother would be horrified with the thought that there could be such a thing as a baby or a mother being too fat. In her time skinny babies died a lot more than plump babies. Skinny mothers died more often too.

She was right about that, as far as it goes. Women who are significantly underweight from poverty, illness, or an eating disorder are more likely to have a miscarriage, a low birth weight baby or a child with birth defects. Not eating as a result of anxiety or depression can cause these problems also. But too skinny mothers are not the major source of problems. Not in this century anyway.

Grandma also had lots of aunts and cousins who had very large families. Women had children starting as young as they could and kept it up as long as they were fertile. That was before birth control. She just might have been right about baby’s needing to have some weight on their bones to survive. But there were some things grandma didn’t know.

Grandma wasn’t near as concerned about the age of the parents either. Older men marrying a very young woman was the norm and for good reasons. In colonial days there were forty sometimes fifty or more men for every woman. So the day that a woman began to have her period the men started calling on this marriage prospect. Lots of women married much older men because the men were financially secure. They married older men and then outlived them and married again.

Men remarried a whole lot more then than now also. People didn’t need to divorce then, their partners kept dying.

Women used to be a lot more delicate than they are now. They died in childbirth and they died every spring of the milk sickness. There were also food shortages and epidemics. Skinny people died a lot. Hence the belief that fat was healthy. Now we know that is not the whole story.

We have long suspected that the father’s age was a factor in some things like schizophrenia or autism. This became more of a theory as there were plenty of young men and fewer old men on their third fourth or fifth wife. Women did not use to have so many children late in life. Now with birth control, postponing children and fertility treatments there are, percentage-wise, more children born to older mothers. That has started us wondering if the mother’s age matters also.

Grandma would have said that healthy kids and long life were in the genes. She would have been partially right.

Genes are not the whole answer! The same gene can do different things at different times in your life. So there are genes and there is gene expression, how the gene acts when in a certain time and place. Think of this as manners for genes.

My genes gave me that nice dark hair when I was young. Somewhere along the way, they decided I was old enough I needed to look the part so now they give me gray hair. I am pretending they are not turning the gray to white. The Same gene for hair color but different age and different hair color. If I had a child at this age they could inherit the dark black hair of my youth but I am stuck with the old man color for no better reason than that I am getting – well older.

Now no cell is made to last forever. Cells like people need to reproduce. I hear that cells replace themselves every seven years. For argument’s sake let’s say that this is true. Why do cell mutilations keep happening? Why do cells have birth defects?

Think of this as the “copier theory of cells.” Every time a cell reproduces it makes a copy of its self. Have you ever made a copy and then when you can’t find the original had to make a copy of a copy? The more generations the copy goes through the more chance it will be fuzzy and someone will read it wrong. Older cells may get fuzzy also. The more copies the more chance for changes – mutations to creep in. Some of those changes in humans may be good things, adaptive changes. But most gene changes cause birth defects.

So what does being overweight or drinking alcohol have to do with birth defects? Alcohol for the record causes more preventable birth defects than anything else. Why is this?

Ever seen someone mark up an original before copying it? Imagine with me an original with white-out on it and some highlighter marks. Now before this stuff can dry the person puts the original on the copier glass and makes their copy. That messy stuff gets all over the glass. Every copy we make now has all those marks on it. They are all hard to read.

So when there are chemicals in the parents’ bloodstream, like alcohol, the copies that get made are fuzzy. More alcohol and the copies get worse. We know alcohol and drugs blur the mother’s contribution to the child’s genes. We also suspect that some chemicals may blur the father’s contribution also.

We used to think that if the mother took in too few calories bad things happened to her and the potential baby. Excess calories were stored as fat in the mother. No harm to the baby there right? Not so fast.

If the mother develops diabetes that high blood sugar could have an effect. So could all sorts of other hormones. So we think that the more overweight the mother the more the risks to the child. Now, remember risks do not equal disease. You can have a risk factor for a disorder and not get it. Strenuous excesses and severe dieting during pregnancy or when you are trying to get pregnant are not recommended. But the mother’s overall health, her efforts to keep her blood sugar under control and to avoid toxins, especially alcohol, just may increase the chances of a healthy child.

Being older or overweight may not be reasons to avoid having children but the increase in risk factors may explain why we are seeing more children born with certain mental and physical illnesses like autism, psychosis, and ADHD.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

What if your parents got it wrong?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Parenting.

Parenting.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Humans have a significant design flaw.

If I had been the engineer working on the human design team I would have done it differently. Consider for a moment that we put our youngest most inexperienced humans in charge of keeping the species going. Wouldn’t you think we should have the oldest most experienced people in charge of bearing and raising the children? It is a wonder the human species survives.

Fertility is highest among the very young, teens and twenties. Neuroscience tells us that the frontal lobe of the brain is not fully formed till the mid-twenties. Couples get together, have children and just about the time they get the process down and start to be credible parents they have passed the child-bearing prime and move to being grandparents. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have children late in life when you have the process of growing up figured out?

Most of the time young parents raise their kids exactly the way they were raised or exactly the opposite. So we keep repeating the same excess of behaviors that produced dysfunctional families.

We are told that if parents get it half right their kids will think they are great parents, but what do kids know? And clearly, way too many parents have children at a young age when they are unable to get even half the parent role right.

Did you ever get 100% on a test? Ten years later could you still get one hundred percent? I do pretty well on written tests most of the time. But I do not remember very many 100 %s. So If I only get part of what I am supposed to learn about being a parent and then only pass on half of that – well pretty soon the whole human tribe will be totally ignorant about child rearing.

Consider the math, if we get it half right and then teach what we know and they get half of what we know and then they pass it on and the third person only gets half of that half we are now down to 12 ½%. Pretty soon at this rate, we are approaching zero. This is the learning curve we used to have on sex education when we avoided telling kids about that all together.

This is an especially large problem for children who grow up in dysfunctional families. Their parents did not know how to be good parents and these children when they become adults have so much trouble caring for themselves there is not much left to use in caring for offspring. But because of that trick of our genes, these uneducated adults reproduce first and then grow up second.

Now don’t get me wrong here – I am not pointing any fingers. I did the “experiment on the first one and see if I can figure this out” method of parenting, just like a lot of my generation.

A few hundred years back they had some mechanisms to reduce the number of children who were reproducing and the problems of young parents who had to learn their parenting skills while on the job of raising kids. First, they used to starve young people, feed the older workers first. And we had lots of childhood mortality. I am not suggesting that we should try this, just saying. Poor diets kept fertility low until people got older and reduced the number of really young people who were giving birth.

More importantly than late onset fertility and high death rates among children and young mothers was another factor called relatives. Not just grandparents but other more distant relatives. There was a time when everyone in a town knew each other and they were all connected. That was sometimes good when they supported the younger parents in being better parents and sometimes bad when a dysfunctional pattern, like child abuse or molestation, became common in a small community.

At this point, some of you readers will be saying aren’t people waiting longer to have children? Won’t that solve the problem?  Yes, some people are waiting till they are older to start families. That will help with the better parenting problem if and only if they had good teachers or if they have grown up and matured enough to have learned those how to be a better parent lessons. Also, take note there are way too many cases of twelve and thirteen-year-old mothers and fathers. Sometimes these extra young people have help from older adults. In my state, that kind of help is called child sexual abuse and is both illegal and reportable. Not everywhere is it illegal though.

So what is the solution if your parents did not know how to be good enough parents or if you became a parent way too young? I suggest that it is never too late to take a parenting class or read a book on parenting. If you did not learn the lessons you should have learned from your parents you need to learn them and teach yourself first.

One first step in healing the pain of dysfunctional parenting is to learn what good parenting looks like and then to be a good nurturing parent for yourself. As you learn to care for yourself you will get better at caring for others.

Anyone know a good parenting book?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.