Matt Walsh: We Treat Boyhood Like a Mental Disorder

Like our oldest boy, Matt Walsh knows that his son could easily get an ADHD diagnosis and prescribed Ritalin or some other mind-altering psychoactive drug. But he’s not medicating him because he and his wife understand that the traits associated with ADHD aren’t symptoms of a disease—they’re characteristics of just being a boy. As he says:

Obviously we need to teach our boys to be obedient and respectful. And they really do need to calm down and be quiet sometimes. But boys also need to be boys. I’m afraid they’re rarely given that opportunity these days. They’re always being told “no,” “stop,” “calm down,” “be quiet,” “sit still.” We treat their boyhood like something that needs to be treated or fixed, like a malignant growth of some kind. We have literally made boyhood into a mental illness. And why? Because we need them to fit into the systems we have in place. We need them to go with our flow, at our pace, on our schedule. A boy’s personality, his whole way of being, is an obstacle in our path. So we harangue him, stifle him, drug him, until we’ve made him compliant.

He continues:

He’s like a squirrel that just ate a pound of coffee beans. He runs through at breakneck speed, fighting off imaginary pirates and dragons. He pole vaults over banisters, jumps over couches, literally bounces off the wall. He climbs everything. He can turn any household item into playground equipment. He can’t sit still or stop talking. And you can’t stop him from talking by leaving the room. He’ll continue the conversation even with no one there to respond. He reminds me a lot of Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone,” wandering around the house narrating himself.

This is how boys learn and grow. Giving them drugs for their entire childhood ruins this growth opportunity not to mention increased risk of dying from cardiac arrhythmia. Get off the drugs and get the boys outside where they can be themselves!