How to Throw Away Our Sons

Two days ago I was at a city council meeting in a nearby town when a young mother stood up to speak during the public comment period. She had young children in this town’s tutorial program at the library. She cried, saying she had six kids and the oldest, 11, had been diagnosed as ADHD, the next as ADD, and the third was “being diagnosed now by the school district.”

I hear alarm bells as soon as anyone uses the term ADHD or ADD to describe their elementary-age son.

This mother went on to say that, understandably, she is overwhelmed with six kids under age 11 and she is not able to find time to do homework with her kids. They were all struggling to read. Someone at the school finally pointed her to the free tutoring program at the library, which had made a huge difference, thankfully.

It was clear from the mother’s words that not only the school but she herself viewed her children through the lens of the diagnosis of ADHD and ADD. I am not judging her, but I think it is fair to say that she seemed to have found some relief in having a “diagnosis” for her kids.  If you are struggling with wild kids, I can see how a diagnosis could be a relief.

The whole conversation made my skin crawl. Maybe there is such a thing as ADD or ADHD. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that if I went into her house this morning, I would find sugar cereal and other sugary food being served for breakfast. I would find soda pop. I would find few fresh vegetables. I would find a lot of packaged food.

And I would find a father and sons who play video games.

Children who eat sugar for breakfast behave like children who eat sugar for breakfast.

This is an irrefutable law of natural consequences.  Children who are fed nonsense fake food all day behave badly. If a parent has a child who has time to play video games but is struggling to learn to read, who is at fault?

Perhaps there is such a thing as ADHD -- but if your child is fed refined sugar, you’ll never know. The only way to know if your child needs a “diagnosis” is to first remove the artificial, profit-driven stimulation from your home and THEN SEE HOW THEY BEHAVE.

I promise you this mother has not done this. I promise you there is sugary food for breakfast, and soda in the house. Why is there soda in the house? Because mom or dad or both drink it. Why is there possibly more time spent watching movies and playing online games than doing homework? Because homeworks is not fun.

I wonder if we are throwing away our boys. I have noticed that ADHD and ADD diagnoses are more often given to boys. Boys should by nature be kinetic.  I wonder if we are finding false relief in “diagnoses” before we are doing our best to provide the best home, nurturing, nutrition, and education for our kids. Once you tell a child they have a “diagnosis”, that child begins to make decisions differently. Our kids will pay for this the rest of their lives.


  1. In so many ways I agree with you. We limit sugar and soda in our house as well as processed foods and food coloring. We also limit the amount of time inside on games and computers with almost no TV. However, when your child does struggle and is finally diagnosed as dyslexic after years of struggle. I as a mother shouted for joy. Yes, the diagnosis is not only real, but a relief, because now they can get the help they need. While a lot of kids may be diagnosed in error, there are kids out there who are disabled and need the diagnosis to get real and helpful intervention.

  2. Great post, Caleb. As the mother of four sons, I totally agree. Boys are proof there's such a thing as perpetual motion.

  3. Great post. I won't say that ADD or ADHD doesn't exist. But I truly believe that society is just rubber stamping children with this. And if after trying the things you suggest still do not work there are alternative ways to approach the issue expecially without meds. Parents, teachers, and any adults involved need to learn to try and harness this "energy". It can be done. I have seen it. And many times children have never been taught how to "focus". Something as simple as reading a short board book to a child when young is many times never accomplished because the parents say the child isn't interested. They must be trained at an early age little steps at a time to focus. As for the earlier comment about dyslexia, I see your point about "diagnosing". However, dyslexia is totally different than ADD or ADHD.

  4. I agree with a lot of what you've said. I don't buy soda or sugar cereal. I limit processed foods, sweets, and media. Still, my son struggles with ADHD symptoms. When the school wanted to have him diagnosed, I had him tested for other things and found that he had severe allergies and a sleep disorder. When I addressed those things, his symptoms drastically improved. I think ADHD is over-diagnosed, but I think there can be more to it than sugar, processed food, tv, and computer games. Also, our school system isn't designed for kinetic boys. In my experience, it's been the school pushing for diagnosis and medication so that he'll sit still and not disrupt the other children.

    1. Plus the schools get gov. funding for any children that have that diagnosis,
      So they really push that.

  5. Great post Caleb and I agree with all my heart. I do believe these things exist, but not to the extent they are diagnosed. I remember my mother once telling me that she was sure Michael would have been put on Ritalin (not sure how it's spelled) if he was born today and to a different home. Boys are boys, some are very active and that's a good thing. Watching TV and playing video games should only be an earned privilege. My 15 year old son doesn't really like to go to "parties" because the boys all just play warlike video games. Not only is he uninterested but in his words he, "sucks" at them because he has never played them. I rejoice that he "sucks"! He loves playing cards and boards games, guitar and piano. He also enjoys being outside biking, swimming, and blading. That said, I am having a harder time reigning in my younger boys. They really want to play computer and video games. I do allow them to on occasion, but their time on these things is very limited. They have to earn it with having completed jobs, homework, and a certain amount of outdoor activity. Believe me, it would be much easier to "give in" and let them play whenever they wanted to, but I didn't become a mother to let video games raise my children. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. I'm going to be a little "buckets of love" on you Caleb. It's true that some parents have blinders on, sure that the things they do at home have no impact on their children's behavior, that it is beyond their control and only a diagnosis with medication can fix it. However, you too have blinders on my friend.

    ADD, ADHD, Autism, and many other spectrum behaviors are very prevalent, though they are being highly over diagnosed and not all of them need medication. It is in the brain chemistry and it is real. It is not caused by eating processed crap in the short term (though studies are indicating that the change in diet over the past 50 years is changing our genetics over the previous generations)That does not give us a free pass to "Throw our boys away". A diagnosis is not an excuse, it's a wake up call that this child may need to do things a little differently than their peers to succeed. Many can be treated with some occupational therapy, and yes, diet modifications.

    Eating healthier food allows the body to run more efficiently, and can tamper down symptoms in some children. The combination of high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat has a similar affect on brain chemistry as heroin. Not a big shock that eliminating it would alter behavior. But it's not a cure, more of a therapy style.

    But Caleb, it is reckless to say that sugar cereal and video games are the cause. Those things will absolutely exacerbate the problem that already exists though. The refusal to acknowledge the disorder itself is akin to saying all people with depression need to do is go outside and get a little exercise.

    Though the sun and exercise will assist in treating depression, it is still there in our brains. The same goes with cutting out the processed food-like substances in our children's diet. I would love to see you switching your platform from "Hey, your children's behavior is all your fault." to "This is a great way to improve your children's health and behavior."

    Someone wise (hint hint)told me once to be aspirational or risk alienating my audience.

    Much love

  8. You are 100% correct. It is such a sad situation driven by greed and ignorance. The sugar pushers and the uneducated populace. Then the poor teachers trying to control mahem, in steps the drug pushers to solve the problem, not to mention the doctors fees for diagnosing. It goes on and on and on. What a warped world we have made. Some are trying to help, but big business is just that, BIG, rich, controlling business. The task is daunting!

  9. Its hard tio eed kids healthy and change to better food once you have fed them rotten but we are doing it slowly trying to get rid of all proccessed food will pick up your winter garden book on pay day and some seeds got your yeast to try excited I found the podcast you were on and found your site will like to learn more about your geothermal green house just so much to learn to keep healthy :)