Varsity Blues – What Do You Really Want for Your Children?

Dr. Hallowell’s Reaction to the College Admissions Cheating Scandal:

Varsity Blues – What Do You Really Want for Your Children?  When I feel as much contempt as I felt for Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, et al., I stop and ask myself, “And how pure are you?”  This current trick of buying the offspring of the wealthy an admission to college particularly enraged me because I’ve just put our three kids through college. after seeing them gain admission the honest way. Similarly, as a child psychiatrist, I work with many families who are going through the process right now. It can be an arduous, stressful process full of fear, uncertainty, and disappointment.  To see some select few buy their way around it is disgusting at best.

Moral Outrage

But moral outrage always makes me think twice.  As I said, how pure am I. Every Sunday in church I confess to God that I have sinned in many ways and have once again not lived up to my promise to love my neighbor as myself.  That these various wealthy people used their money to do what they now, I would imagine, are thoroughly ashamed of having done, makes me think of them, if I stop and think, rather than simply react as the primitive man I can so easily be, that they are ever so human.

A snake-like character (who has his own all-too-human qualities) tempted them with one of the most alluring and appealing of all prizes a parent can be offered, a plum college admission for their son or daughter, thus sparing said child the pain and possible humiliation of the highly competitive college admission process. The snake’s wealthy target couldn’t resist a guaranteed admission to a desirable college (knowing nothing of the true value of competing to get in, or the true value of college in general, or probably the true value of just about anything in life any longer) and so he jumps for offer.

His or her son or daughter has it made, right?  Little does the wealthy person know that even had the bribe not come to light, the transaction nonetheless would have cast a curse upon the child’s life forever.

These wealthy people were blinded by what they took to be love, were they not, and they saw a way they could afford to help their children, or so they thought. Of course, their attempt to help was crippling, just as it had likely been ever since the child was born.  Good parents do not do this kind of thing, regardless of their wealth, but I go off track.

Guilty of Being Human

My main point is Loughlin, Huffman, et al. are guilty of being human.  Sure, I sat in judgement of them when I first heard of this and thought it represented everything venal and detestable about wealth and privilege and underscored the hypocrisy of so many people who pretend to be one person but are in reality another.

But then I thought of my own little hypocrisies, my own little sins. As a result, I reminded myself maybe I hadn’t done what those folks did simply because I didn’t have that kind of money and that snake had never approached me.  I don’t know Felicity Huffman.  I bet if I sat down and talker with her I’d like her a lot.         

Judging People is a Dangerous Habit

I just think that judging people is a really dangerous habit to get into.  I sure don’t want other people to judge me.  So I’m going to try to look at the humanity of the Varsity Blue scandal and learn from that, rather than heap more scorn and contempt upon people I don’t even know.

Right now, I encourage you to take a few moments and think of your children. Bring their faces to your mind. Then ask yourself, “What do I really want for them in their lives?”

Don’t assume you know. Before you spend another day as a parent (or as a teacher or a coach or anyone else involved with children), try to answer this deceptively simple question: What do I really want for my children?  Is it admission to the most prestigious college? Or is it trophies and prizes and stardom? Perhaps, it is….READ MORE HERE!

If you’re feeling judged, read Dr. Hallowell’s ADDitude Magazine article on, “Feeling Judged: 8 Ways to Let It Go.”



I’m Such a Simple Man.  I Love My Dog.

Note from Ned on why “I’m such a simple man and why I love my dog.

da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM

A phrase came to me this morning while I was eating my grape nut cereal with blueberries and milk, not my usual breakfast but one I love nonetheless. “On what can you depend?” It came just like that.  Not in the more colloquial, “What can you depend on?” but the more formal, “On what can you depend?”

I actually like the more formal version, not because I am a stiff grammarian—actually the current doyen of grammar, Benjamin Dreyer, urges us to end sentences with prepositions and forget the proscriptions to the contrary we learned in grammar school—but because of the solidity of the rhythm of the line: on WHAT can YOU de PEND; da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.

Right then I could depend on my grape nuts, blueberries, and milk and the solidity of the line, which I liked so much I said it out loud.  I was sitting by myself—no, not by myself, our dog, Max, was sitting on the floor next to me, and when I said it he looked up at me quizzically, so I said it again.  Max made no sense of it so he went back to looking at whatever he’d been looking at before.

Da-DUM, da-Dum, da-DUM.

It’s good to have a dog. Yes, it’s GOOD to HAVE a DOG. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. It’s GOOD to KNOW your SELF. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. be WARE the IDES of MARCH. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. stand UP for THOSE you LOVE. da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. be SURE to BRUSH and FLOSS.

I sat with Max doing da-DUM’s for quite a while.  I was reveling in the feeling of solidity they gave me.  It was heartening to know how much brick I could find in such a short time simply by looking for three iambs in a row.

Why I’m such a simple man

I’m such a simple man.  I love my dog.  And I love my grape nuts, especially with blueberries and milk.  Likewise, I love the morning, especially with Max.  I love that I have three children all in their 20’s who are thriving, thank God. Also I love Sue, my wife, of 30 years. I fear the things we all fear, and I fear not knowing when they will come.  Which brings me back to da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.  I HOPE we ALL find PEACE and JOY.  Ah-ha, I added another da-DUM.

The time had come for this simple man to take my dish to the sink, wash up, and say good bye to Max and my reveries.  It was time for me to go to work. This meant driving out to my office in Sudbury to see the patients who were waiting for me out there.

The drive would give me a chance to get a new window, literally, onto the world, watching the wintry scenes as I drove past them, the snows still clinging to the now brown barked trees, the bare trees, buds barely popping in as yet, muddy patches in some fields where some melting’s come, the blue sky today replacing the heavy gray from yesterday, the sun ever brighter reflecting off the fields still filled with snow, a few horses seeing what they could forage today let out of their stalls into one of the fields, feeling on the precipice of spring with Savings Time just let in to provide us with more daylight or so the idea has it go.

I watch the nature I know so well, having grown up in New England, these rhythms run me now as they ever did then.  Or I turn on NPR, then switch to sports radio then to the classical station then to the other station that has 60’s songs I like, I channel surf and try to pay attention to the road.

I look forward to seeing the people who are waiting to see me in the office.  For that reason I feel grateful that I have a useful purpose to serve.  I think to myself, I hope I do it well today.  i HOPE i DO it WELL to DAY.



ADHD Diagnoses on the rise!

ADHD diagnoses is on the rise in the U.S. Why has it gone from 6.1% in 1997 to 10.2% in 2016?  Is that a good thing or bad thing?

In Distraction, S3 Mini 23, Dr. Hallowell shares his thoughts on why more U.S. kids aged 4 to 17 are being diagnosed with ADHD, and what that increase really means.  LISTEN NOW!

What you should know about getting an ADHD Diagnosis and the   Treatment of ADHD 

Make sure you consult with a well-trained specialistThe doctors who have the most training in ADHD are child psychiatrists. First of all, if you are an adult, be aware that all child psychiatrists also are trained in adult psychiatry. Ask the person you see if he or she has extensive experience in working with patients in your age group. It is imperative that you consult with a professional who has extensive experience. If you can’t find such a person, start by calling the department of psychiatry at the medical school nearest to you.

Secondly, the diagnosis rests upon a careful history taken from the identified patient as well as at least one other person. Such as a parent, spouse, sibling, or close friend, as well as, if possible, teacher comments.

Finally, you should develop a comfortably connected relationship with the person diagnosing and treating you so that you can turn to him or her with trust whenever the need arises.

The history may be supplemented by neuropsychological testing. This is paper-and-pencil testing that includes puzzles and games. It’s actually often fun to take these tests. They are not diagnostic of ADHD, but they add valuable information.

Treatment begins with education.

The patient and concerned others need to learn what ADHD is, and what it is not. Therefore, a diagnosis of the mind, like ADHD, must be fully understood if it is to be mastered. Most noteworthy, at its best, ADHD can become an asset, rather than a liability, in a person’s life. However, for this to happen, the person has to develop a deep appreciation for how ADHD works within him or her. To understand ADHD, a person could begin with one of my books, like Delivered From Distraction, or with some other book on the topic. Just be sure you read a book by a highly qualified expert who writes clearly and well.

Treatment proceeds with a re-structuring of one’s life.

Usually, disorganization is a leading problem in the life of the person who has ADHD. Often an organizational coach can help enormously in developing new habits of organization and time management.

Physical Exercise

Treatment should also include physical exercise, at least 4 times per week. Dr. John Ratey’s work and his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, notes that physical exercise is one of the best treatments we have for ADHD.

Proper nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in the treatment of ADHD in all ages. The key simply is to eat well, avoid junk food and sugar, eat whole foods, and don’t self-medicate with carbs, as many people with ADHD are tempted to do.

If you think you might have ADHD, CLICK HERE to learn what the Hallowell Centers can do for you.

Learn more about ADHD HERE!