Someone once told me and a roomful of my colleagues, “Don’t ever write anything you wouldn’t want to land on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow morning.” He was speaking about emails, text messages, and Facebook comments and posts; but the message extends far beyond social media and the like.
And, for me, I would take it one step farther: Don’t ever write anything to which you are not willing to sign your name.
As a writer of a blog, I have full control over all comments that appear here. And while I can count on one hand the number of comments I have opted not to publish over the course of five years, should one appear that I feel either does a disservice to readers or is otherwise inflammatory, I can put it in the metaphorical and technological trash.
When I write for publications, however, everything is available for not only public consumption but commentary, too. I accept that–and expect it, too. The written word is nothing if it does not inspire one to think, to feel, to remark, to criticize.
But sometimes comments are blatantly inaccurate, do nothing to advance the conversation, or ultimately have the potential to do harm.
In the most recent edition of ADDitude magazine you will find an article about my seven-year-old son Edgar, who in October was diagnosed with ADHD. And here you will find the online version. In the article, I relate how tremendously his life has changed since beginning a regimen that includes stimulant medication.
This afternoon the following comment appeared from someone who calls herself (or himself) “ADHD Mom”:
Your piece is clearly written with a lot of love. I am saddened that you decided to dope your child instead of providing him the tools and patience he will need to succeed and that he deserves. Doping is a temporary solution and as documented will potentially lead to increases in doseage [sic], addition [sic] medications being pushed for anxiety and depression not to mention what it does to a growing child psychologically. While you enjoy your momentary relief, your child continues to suffer and will eventually believe that he is inadequate without the dope. This is not a long term [sic] solution.
With ADHD, indeed with pretty much everything, each family must formulate its own plan and come to its own decisions–decisions that are not made lightly, decisions that demand much thought and often inspire even more angst. It is clear to me now that because my son does take medication, indeed because he has ADHD, he is going to encounter these sorts of misapprehensions and have to field these kinds of inflammatory comments–whether they come to him in person or anonymously from behind a keyboard.
My son is too young to hear ADHD Mom’s words. They would do nothing but upset him, serve no purpose, and ultimately cause harm. And though today I can control whether or not he sees these words, tomorrow I can’t. But what I can do in the interim is to continue providing him with “the tools and patience” he will need to respond with dignity to the ADHD Moms of the world.