It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree about the best course of treatment for their children’s physical and mental health issues. Often, beliefs are based on how we were raised or our own experiences and those of people in our work and social circles.
Married couples typically find a way to work through their disagreements. However, it’s more complicated for divorced parents. Often co-parents dig in to their point of view and refuse to consider the other person’s perspective.
Strong disagreements between parents who share legal custody, and therefore typically both have a right to a say in medical decisions for their child, may involve vaccinations and medications.
For example, some people are still hesitant about giving kids medication for attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If your child has been diagnosed with one of these conditions and your co-parent doesn’t want to medicate them, what can you do?
Get others involved
If your pediatrician has recommended they start medication, ask them to speak with your co-parent to explain why it’s the best course of action and address questions and concerns they have. This will help place emphasis where it belongs – on what’s best for your child.
Perhaps your co-parent isn’t seeing all the problems your child’s condition is causing. If you have primary custody or have them most weekdays, you may be the one getting the calls from school when there’s a disciplinary issue. You may have to ask the school to start calling your co-parent sometimes and involving them if there are academic issues related to your child’s condition.
Finally, if your co-parent has another solution, like behavior therapy, give that a try if you haven’t already. Maybe it will work. If not, they can’t say you weren’t willing to be open-minded.
What not to do
It may be tempting to go behind your co-parent’s back. That’s never a good idea. Further, most pediatricians won’t get in the middle of divorced parents’ disagreements. Even if your doctor were to prescribe the medication, you’ll also have to ask your child to lie to their other parent – something no parent should do.
If your child is suffering and you still can’t resolve the issue, you may need to take the matter to court and let a judge decide. Be sure you have sound legal guidance as you make that decision.