Jump to content

Bipolar kids or bad parents?



Specializes in Brain injury,vent,peds ,geriatrics,home.

I work with children 5 through 16,with behavoiral issues.Manymost of them come from very disturbing backrounds.We use a combination of medication and therapy.It is very sad though.Sometimes you wonder if they can work out thier issues without medication.Or for example,if the kid seems hyper wouldnt it make sense to let them play in the gym or outside longer?Very interesting article.

teeituptom, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU, L&D, OR.

I give 98 percent of the blame to bad parenting

or as it also called PPPS= Pathetically Poor Parenting Skills

Makes ya really wonder.

teeituptom, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU, L&D, OR.

All the disturbed kids I see are from broken homes with dysfunctional parents who have all set bad examples for their own kids to begin with.


Specializes in pediatric and geriatric. Has 19 years experience.

A doctor who brags about a quick dx in childrens mental health also should share some responsibility since a parent can not get a drug like that without a script. I think not all mentally challenged kids are from abusive homes, just have parents who are afraid to discipline or do not know what to do when the kids act up. What ever happened to family therapy? I agree with the post above about other intervetion before meds. Doctors tend to be busy and try and satisfy the parents, but the child is the patient and they should have the childs best interest in mind.

hellerd2003, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

All the disturbed kids I see are from broken homes with dysfunctional parents who have all set bad examples for their own kids to begin with.

I have a stepson that has physically assaulted myself, my husband (his dad), his mother, his stepdad, his sister and his stepsiblings.

Yes, he's from a divorced home. So was I. I never acted out like he does.

His mother has a full-time job and, while this may distract some, is divorcing her second husband (stepson's stepdad). She's making a better life for herself. She is a positive influence and loves my stepson, and visits him in his treatment facility every chance she gets.

Prior to treatment, my stepson was living with us for 2 years. While living with us, both my husband and I have held full-time jobs, and supported stepson in his high school activities (he chose none). We have only set the expectation of a clean room and homework done, as well as no abuse to persons or animals in the house (we believe, but have no proof, aside from the fact that the dog avoids him and has had loose bowels when left alone with stepson that he was abusing our dog). He has been taken to counselors and psychiatrists on a regular basis.

While his mother and father have attended some college-level classes, both are professionals. Both in sales and maintaining full-time employment with benefits for their kids. I have two master's degrees, and a BA. All three of us work full-time, support our families, and keep a clean household.

We finally, after working for a month and seeking out programs throughout the U.S., found him a treatment center that would accept him into an inpatient program that has pulled him away from our home for at least 7 months. He needs intensive treatment. You cannot imagine, unless you've been there, the hurt of putting your kid into treatment (and yes, he's my kid. I accepted that when I met my husband).

He's disturbed, yes. Our home environment is not dysfunctional, despite my stepson's parents' divorce. They (my husband and his ex) work together re. his needs, and that's cool with me.

Be careful when passing judgement. Sometimes, there is no need. I'm tired of defending myself, my husband, and his ex-wife to people, when sometimes there's nothing you can do. Some kids just will fall through no matter what you do. Our psychiatrist told us that my stepson would either be in jail by age 25, or could find some help beforehand (he has ODD and conduct disorder). We put him into treatment, after being told by police that, due to his level of offenses, he'd spend 6 months in jeuvy and have a record. Our house is empy without him in it, but we saved him from a record and hopefully will fix what is going on via treatment.

So don't generalize that ALL disturbed kids are from broken homes with dysfunctional parents. Sometimes, everyone is working for the benefit of the kid. Sometimes, those efforts just don't work.

love to dive

Specializes in Cardiac tele, stepdown. Has 16 years experience.

I agree with heller2003.

I have a daughter who I knew there was something wrong/different when she was 2 1/2 yrs old. We are not a broken family. My husband and I have now been married for 27 yrs.

My daughter had problems acting up and it got worse when she got into school. We worked with the school and tried lots of behavior techniques. At 10 yrs old and in 5th grade she physically attacked her teacher and shortly therafter was admitted to inpt psych where she was for 6 months.

We are good parents. Are other 2 girls (one younger, on older) are both ADHD as well as my husband. My other 2 daughters are NOT on any meds. My middle daughter is now 22. She is going to college for computer networking. School is still sometimes a struggle and she continues to take medications but she is a very good, kind hearted kid. I am very proud of her, especially when I think of all the problems we have gone through.

RanieRN, MSN, RN

Specializes in psychiatry,geropsych,LTC/SNF, hospice. Has 22 years experience.

My 15 year old son was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when he was 8. Previously he had been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at age 4. Not only did he display all the characteristics of an ADHD child, but he was physically aggressive and self-injurious. I lost track of how many times I had had to restrain him to keep from hurting himself or his sisters. When he was 8, his treater and I decided to give him a med vacation from his stimulant (adderall), hoping he'd gain some weight. Once off the adderall, we started seeing the mood swings. Turns out the adderall was blunting his emotions. It was a very unpleasant summer; nothing we tried worked for any length of time until we tried a combination of depakote to stabilize his mood swings and clonidine to make him less aggressive. My son's been in individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, whatever treatment there is to help him. But whatever else is used as treatment, he (and the family) have a very poor quality of life due to his behaviors without medication. He's been on the same med regime (depakote, strattera, and zyprexa) for a couple years now, with just a little tweaking when needed (usually in the summer when he gets hypomanic).

For years, when he was so young, I blamed myself--figuring something was lacking in my parenting. Not anymore. I know I've done my best for him and will continue to be his strongest advocate for whatever help he can get in order to live the best life he can (he also has a moderate learning disability). Yes, there are children out there who demonstrate negative behaviors due to poor parenting. Yes, there are parents out there looking for the "easy cure" for their child who has a tantrum because they can't stay up late. But there are plenty of children out there whose parents have gone over and above in trying to help their child, in trying to find the right treaters, in trying to find the right combination of medication and therapy.

sometimes the stress of dealing with a dysfunctional child will overwhelm the parents to the point of causing a divorce

if the parents do not have an understanding of the cause of this behavvior they will blame themselves and there will be no shortage of friends, neighbors, family and teachers who will also blame the parents

if there are other children in the family they will also suffer because the dysfun child requires more attention

if there is in patient facilities the family can lead a normal life, with kids inviting their friends over to the house, the stress level for all will fall even with the guilt they feel about being happy that one of their members is gone

a sick child doesn't chose to be disruptive, the parents have probably reacted in an inappropriate manner but many times it is because it just becomes more than they can bare, the siblings are scared and confused and their childhood is warped


Specializes in NICU. Has 1 years experience.

You know, it really pisses me off when I see people trying to lump the majority of a group and contribute it to the same cause. Its like saying all black people are thieves...give me a freakin break!

kstec, LPN

Specializes in Geriatrics/Family Practice. Has 1 years experience.

The big question of nurture vs. nature comes into play. I come from a family of mental illness, drug addicts and alcoholcs. I chose to get married first, then get pregnant and play it strictly by societal norms. I guit work and stayed home with my son to give him everything that I never had including extra love. Well he was diagnosed with OCD with bipolar tendencies at the age of four,and had been displaying abnormal behavior since birth. Slept weird if at all, nursed poorly, extreme seperation anxiety, repetitive behaviors and major temper tandrums. It had got to the point prior to me taking him to a pediatric psychiatrist, I decided that if this is parenting, I want no part of it. I took him to the psychiatrist and low and behold genetics played a role in his mental illness. He'd never been abused in anyway shape or form or had any traumatic event to trigger this, and no me and my husband were not bad parents, even though I questioned it. If someone can figure this whole childhood mental illness whether it be ADHD or Bipolar, please let us all know, because to place blame immediately on the parents is a little premature considering all the other things that are genetic, like hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cancer and the list goes on. I know life style contributes but alot of it is genetics. Lets not pass judgement on the parents unless we know without a doubt that they were damaged emotional, physically or psychologically. Also, has anyone ever thought of all the preservatives and weird crap put in food, maybe or maybe not. Or has these different mental illnesses always been around but these were the ones that were not tended to and ended up as alcoholics and drug addicts to help fix what was wrong with them. The brain is so very complex, the world we live in has changed so much, somewhere along the way there are other contributing factors playing in the overly diagnosing of mental illness in these children. Sorry this is so long, but the guilt that a parent has to get through when their child is suffering from mental illness and you think you did it, but when you did it genetically, it makes you question whether you should of every reproduced. I love him with all my heart and went onto have one more, but because my family history is so messed up, I counted my blessings and stopped at two. The second one has shown no signs of mental illness as of yet and he is 8. Sorry I'll get off my soapbox. As for parents who truly do torture their children how can they (children) turn out completely normal without some help whether it be meds or therapy or both. I speak from experience, psych meds are my best friends and keep me from ending up like the rest of my family, DEAD from overdosing on whatever.


Specializes in ER/Ortho.

My middle son didn't fit in during his early school years, and developed low self esteem. As a young teen he experimented with drugs in order to fit into a group, and later became an addict. It is true that addiction isn't a personal disease it affects the entire family. When I realized he was doing drugs I reached out for help (this was early on), at Green Oaks treatment center. They kept him overnight, and released him. He just continued to get worse, and his behavior became worse. One evening he said he was going out, and I said he was still grounded, and he took a swing at me, and hit me. I took him back to Green Oaks, and a doctor whom we had never met talked to us for five minutes, told us he was Bipolar. They kept him for 3 days, and sent him home with a ton of prescriptions. He no longer had behavior problems, and he didn't try to leave the house. Do you know why? He was a complete zombie !!! He just sit around blank faced, and numb. He mumbled his words, and sometimes he drooled. I have never seen anything so scary. At first I thought it might get better after a week or so, but the side effects were just as severe. I took him off all meds after 2 weeks, and his behavior came back, along with the drug abuse. I finally had him arrested, and after spending a weekend in jail he agreed to go to a high school where he gets drug counsling, art therapy, and random drug tests. He has been clean for over a year, and has none of the behavior problems he had when he was using drugs.

I understand at the time he did have the symptoms of someone who is bipolar, but he was also using drugs. People who are drugged up all the time often act violent, and display bad behavior. We were taking him in for drug abuse, but they diagnosed him with bipolar. I still don't understand it. Anyway, my son is back, and he is not bipolar. I am so glad I took him off the meds, and trusted my instinct or who knows what he would be like today.

This is a really scary epidemic.

I can see what a hot topic this is and as a nurse who works in a child/adolescent crisis unit would like to add my thoughts with what I have seen in my past 1 1/2 years.

First of all, NO ONE disputes that there are actually children who have severe behavioral/psychiatric problems. Hearing that doctors brag at the speed with which they diagnose them, however is scary.

I have seen children come in out of control, watched the parent/child interaction, watched them medicated and have seen some amazing turn arounds. There are many cases where medication is needed and allows the child to develop.

I have also seen the multiple admits who are on many medications who change not at all. I have also witnessed the child/parent interactions and left with no wonder about what the real problems were. The children have bragged to me that if they acted like this at home they would get what they want. I have had a parent totally imersed in the fact that her child had not showered that day when the 8 year old was completely out of control--punching and scratching staff any chance he got.

I have no doubt that there is a genetic factor to all of this. I have no answers but I continue to be intrigued why some children in a family are affected and some are not.

I want to also say that the unit I work on does not prescribe medications for all children. There are some that have issues that need to be worked out through family and individual therapy that can work amazingly if everyone is receptive. Sometimes the kids just have to have a safe place to explore how to resolve their issues.

I know I have given a two-sided opinion, but I continue to think that we, as a society, are too quick to medicate our problems away. How many people go to a doctor and insist they need an antibiotic for a virus. We think if we take a pill we will be OK. I believe there needs to be more vigilant overseeing of the doctors who would prescribe potent medications to 2 and 3 year olds. There are no long term studies of the side effects of these medications.

There are usually no bad parents--just some who could use some help.

FireStarterRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Med/Surg, Peds, ICU, Tele. Has 15 years experience.

Interesting thread here. I think that each person is different, there is no one answer. Human beings are complex.

I believe there needs to be more vigilant overseeing of the doctors who would prescribe potent medications to 2 and 3 year olds. There are no long term studies of the side effects of these medications.

There are usually no bad parents--just some who could use some help.

Did you hear that story about the 4-year-old who was diagnosed as bipolar at age 2, and died of a Depakote overdose? "60 Minutes" did a very cursory treatment of this, but there were two other children about whom people who knew the family said they were basically kept asleep all the time and awakened only to eat and go to school and the bathroom. Police actually found drugs, prescribed by several doctors, hidden all over the house. And the doctor's license has been suspended because she has apparently done this kind of thing before.

When I worked at a grocery store pharmacy, there was a mom and little boy who came into the store every day and just kind of walked around. The boy was 4 and wouldn't you know it, one day Mom walked in with an RX for Risperdal, among other things. Thing was, I never saw the mom not on her cell phone. We all wondered who she was really talking to. This wasn't an isolated incident. Maybe the boy really did have behavior problems, but I'm guessing he was neglected. I'm pretty sure the mom was married but I never saw the husband.

Around here, the doctors will prescribe ADD meds to any parent who asks for them, and the schools are VERY aggressive in having kids evaluated. I have never heard of a child who was evaluated who wasn't diagnosed. 3 to 5%? I'd say it's more like 30 to 50%, conservatively.

I know lots of teachers, and they all say that when they have a problem child, 99% of the time, when they meet the parents they know immediately where the problem arose.

Lots of parents (okay, single unemployable moms) are encouraging their kids to act up in school so they can get an ADD diagnosis and receive SSI payments for them. They are shoo-ins for this money, as are drug addicts and alcoholics, and this is why many people who were declared permanently and totally diasbled are needing to be re-evaluated.

And this makes things so much harder for people who really do have these conditions.

This topic is now closed to further replies.