my boss is questioning the need for my child’s medical care

A reader writes:

Recently my seven-year-old son’s pediatrician has recommended that he be evaluated by a psychologist for ADHD and giftedness. He has had some behavior challenges at home and at school. We live in a small town an hour’s drive away from any larger town or city, and the options for psychological care nearby are limited. My son has seen a local psychologist for an unrelated issue in the past, and I was less than impressed. I made an appointment with a specialist in the nearby city and informed my boss that I would need to take a half-day off and why. She expressed surprise and questioned me about finding local care, but granted the request.

The next day, she came to my office and said that she had discussed the matter with her husband and that he said that I was overreacting — that excessive energy was normal and to be expected for a boy. He went on to say that he had been energetic as a boy himself, received many spankings, and look at him now — university professor. My response in the moment was “Respectfully, your husband has never met my son. I have spent seven years with him and I believe I know best.”

At no point did she insist that I cancel the appointment or alter my plans. The tone was more advice-giving than managerial time-management. However, I don’t want to seem like an employee who requests time off for frivolous things as this is not the impression I want to leave. I also remain bothered by the fact that she discussed this matter with her husband at all. I’m not sure if I am overreacting about that. My son will likely require several follow-up appointments in the city to establish his diagnosis and treatment plan. Do you have any advice for me if this (vocal skepticism regarding my son’s care) comes up again?

Possibly relevant details: I am salaried (exempt) and do not have to take sick time for less than a full day’s absence.

I think this is a case of how people who are overbearing in life don’t stop being overbearing once they become managers.

In other words, I think this is less about her acting as your manager, and more about her just saying something obnoxious that she would have said even if she weren’t your manager and knew you socially. It sounds like she’s offering you what she thinks is helpful advice, not signaling that you shouldn’t be taking the time off.

Of course, that’s not okay. Managers need to be aware that their words will always carry more weight and be seen through a different lens. The fact that she’s your manager means that you have to worry about different things than if a social acquaintance (or even just a peer-level coworker) said this to you — whether she intended that or not.

In the future, I’d recommend not sharing details with her at all. If you need time off to take your son to an appointment, be as vague as possible — “I’ll be out a half day on Tuesday for a medical appointment.” That’s it.

If she asks how your son is doing, stay vague — “he’s hanging in there,” “he’s good,” or so forth. If she pushes for details beyond that, say something like, “Oh, I’m enjoying not having to think about it while I’m at work!” or “Nothing anyone but his mom would find interesting” or “Oh, nothing worth getting into.”

If she tries to offer her own opinions again (or her husband’s — ?@!?), say this: “Oh, I’d rather not discuss it. These things can be so complicated, as I’m sure you know. I appreciate your thinking of us though!” That last part might be insincere — because you probably do not appreciate her thinking about this — but it’s there just for relationship-preservation reasons. This is your boss, and it’s helpful to soften a “mind your own business” when you can do that without compromising the outcome you’re going for.

{ 436 comments… read them below }

  1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Oversimplifying ADHD as “excessive energy” is so damaging and unhelpful.

    I don’t have much advice, OP — Alison covered that pretty well — but good luck to you.

    1. blackcat*

      Yeah, and having that image of it tends to be harmful to girls with ADHD (they more often have the inattentive type, which goes under diagnosed).

      As a former teacher, I know how valuable appropriate care for ADHD is! It’s amazing how much progress can be made with a good provider. And I LOVED getting thorough lists of “x,y,z” specific to each kid. Yeah, it was hard to keep track of, but my classroom ran WAY smoother when I had things in place that helped my students learn.

      Your boss is an ass, but you are doing the right thing as a parent, LW.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        It’s a lot like when women with endometriosis get told that cramps are normal or some one with depression is told that everyone lots of people are sad and can get over it just fine without medication. It isn’t helpful or relevant. A professor is not a doctor, and even if he was a doctor he has not examined OP’s son. I hate unsolicited medical advice.

        1. Collarbone High*

          “These GI problems are all in your head — you just need to learn to manage stress better and you’ll be fine!”

          (six years later)

          “Oops, turns out your GI problems are being caused by all this scar tissue blocking your small intestine and you need immediate surgery.”

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Something similar happened to me. When I was around 8, I went to the emergency room for abdominal pain. They didn’t see anything on the X-ray, so they told my mother I was probably faking a belly ache for attention. The truth is that I had adhesions from a previous abdominal surgery, and they were obstructing my small intestine. I had emergency surgery and spent 10 days in the hospital. It turns out that there was a shadow on the original X-ray, but they didn’t bother re-doing it.

            1. Mela*

              That truly astounds (not really) me considering you had a history of abdominal surgery. Lazy, terrible medicine.

        2. Veruca*

          Yes! My sister-in-law had severe endometriosis as a teen. Her father asked her doctor, also a man, if the cramps were really “that bad” or if she was being dramatic. The doctor looked him in the eye and said, “It’s comparable to having your testicles in a vice, all day.” That shut him up.

          1. Liane*

            I love that doctor. Hope your SIL’s dad ran screaming from the office.

            The whole “Serious Medical Issue is just Minor Everyday Annoyance, so suck it up, Drama-Buttercup” is even worse than the “You can’t have Serious Medical Issue You Were Formally Diagnosed With. Nobody gets that so early in life” that my husband heard even from some medical professionals for years.)

            1. LavaLamp*

              Fist bumps to that doctor.

              I get a lot of “Why can’t you lift/do/carry/etc” as I’m a young woman who looks reasonably healthy. I’m not. A lot of people don’t like to believe what they can’t see.

            2. Junior Dev*

              “you’re too young to have back pain!”

              Great! That makes me feel awesome about potentially having to live the rest of my life with this issue!

              (I’m doing better now, but it took months of PT to get there.)

            3. Oranges*

              May I also add that it creates an epic amount of internallized guilt? Because I know my brains lie to me about things eg “Suicide is awesome” “You are worthless” I have doubts to HOW MUCH I’m suffering. Seriously. Part of my brain goes “You just want attention” and since that’s true (because human) I doubt that my pain is really “That bad” even when I’m battling fun intrusive thoughts (see above) or a small ball of misery crying.

              PS. Major depression sucks. I have professionals helping me with it (and probably will until I die). Please don’t freak out.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                Yup. I get pleasant thoughts like “it’s not that bad, you don’t deserve to feel this way because there’s nothing wrong with you and you certainly don’t deserve any help, so suck it up and will yourself to be better.”

                Unsolicited medical advice like this can do real damage.

          2. Janelle*

            Ha this reminds me of a while back I had a cyst rupture and ended up in the ER. My follow up with my make dr he says “oh wow ya that really hurts”. I kind of gave him a look and he stuttered and says “well, ya you know that”. It was in jest as we have a friendly rapport but I nearly cracked up as I didn’t intend to give the dirty look but my brain was thinking wtf how do you know! Ha

            1. blushingflower*

              My old GP was a man and my current GYN is a man and both of them have been very much in favor of aggressive and pro-active pain management when it comes to menstrual cramps, which I love.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                I’ve found they fall in two camps: “I can’t imagine how bad it is, therefore it can’t be that bad” and “I can’t imagine how bad it is, it must be terrible!”

              2. Mela*

                The data shows cismen OB/GYNs provide better, more gentle care (esp pelvic exams) and the theory is that ciswomen MDs feel like pelvics aren’t that bad or scary and tend to be rougher, whereas cismen MDs haven’t had one so they tread carefully

          3. Julia*

            I have endometriosis and a MOTHER who refused to give me pain meds. I wish I had had that doctor. I was only diagnosed at 26 last year when it had gotten so bad I suffered for a week out of every month.

        3. seejay*

          And nevermind that 40 years ago they *did* treat ADHD by spanking the tar out of kids because they didn’t understand what it was. We have more information about children’s behaviour now that we can better diagnose and understand what’s going on that we find more proactive and positive methods of dealing with it instead of brute force.

          I wasn’t ADHD/ADD but I did have some pretty serious attention issues due to learning too quickly and being bored because the level I was learning at wasn’t high enough for me. I was fortunate that the teachers I had recognized it and found projects and other ways to redirect my mind to help me learn more instead of just getting angry at me, which is what later teachers wound up doing… which resulted in behavioural and anger problems as a result.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I had a learning disability (dyscalculia) AND was gifted in other areas, which meant the teachers didn’t believe that I could possibly be having trouble with math. They thought I was just lazy or didn’t like it. Well of course I didn’t like it; I couldn’t do it! :P

            1. Competent Commenter*

              Not diagnosed with a learning disability, but all my smarts cluster on the verbal side. Multiple years of poor-quality math teachers + being overpromoted in math classes due to my high performance otherwise = failing advanced algebra/trig in sophomore year. The teacher told my parents I just didn’t want to succeed in her class, and they bought it. Been over 30 years and I’m still pissed.

              1. Talia*

                Urgh! I was skipped over fifth grade math because they mixed up “learns quickly” with “already knows this stuff”, and then wasn’t given support when I suddenly started having trouble because I was gifted. There was an opportunity to fix this in high school– I placement tested into a review class– but my mother insisted I wouldn’t be starting high school in a review class because then I wouldn’t be in calculus by my senior year and I’d never get into a good college! She promised the school she’d get me tutoring over the summer and never did. I struggled with math all through high school, culminating in failing out of calculus, which I imagine looked much worse to colleges but I did get into a good one anyway.

                1. Bryce*

                  That happened to me in college. Grasped math concepts and breezed through a bunch of things in grade school, so when stuff started getting difficult I had no practice in how to cope with it. Add in depression and other issues and it was an absolute trainwreck.

                2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                  To this day I struggle with fractions and percentages, because I was “promoted” from a lower-level class into the higher-level class and I missed that bit. I did ok with trig and calculus later on, but ask me to multiply fractions or calculate what percentage x is of y and I have to remind myself how to do it every. single. time. I always get a low score on that bit of any standardized test, which sucked when I took the GRE on the computer because I couldn’t just skip to the trig problems and do those first.

              2. Julia*

                ‘all my smarts cluster on the verbal side’

                I am totally stealing this, thank you!

                And ugh, maths. My brother is super gifted and we went to the same schools and had the same teachers. Not helping.

            2. TheOtherLiz*

              ADD and relating to this so hard. OP, thank you for being your child’s advocate! I don’t know hwere I’d be without my parents’ persistent advocating for me as a preteen, getting me to a proper psychologist for testing when the schools refused, battling middle school teachers who didn’t “believe in” ADD or accommodating it.

            3. Liz*

              I had the same problem. It wasn’t until after college and I’d been working full-time for a couple of years that I even knew dyscalculia existed, and I couldn’t get tested for a few years after that. Just knowing makes a huge difference to my state of mind.

          2. Kimberly*

            I spent most of my K-12 schooling driving the teachers crazy. My handwriting was and still is horrible. I regularly trip over lines on the floor. In 3rd grade, I tested at a 10th-grade reading level. In 7th grade, I tested at college reading levels – but I couldn’t read a See Dick See Jane book out loud when they did round robin reading of a textbook. Talk about imposter syndrome – How could I read the books I enjoyed if I couldn’t read a basic 1st-grade reader out loud.

            In University I turned in an essay exam that was in full mirror image. That led to me being diagnosed with severe dysgraphia. In simplest terms, my brain can’t tell my hands what to write because I have to think about how to make the letters. It doesn’t help that I have 2 genetic skin conditions that cause my skin to be brittle and the pad of my fingers crack from the pressure of holding a pen sometimes.

            In my generation, 4 of 5 first cousins were diagnosed with LDs in University. So far with the current crop of kids 2 of 6 school aged kids are diagnosed (kids and grandkids of those 5 first cousins). When people try to tell them they are lazy or cheating by having accommodations – they use the eyeglass explanation (their accomendations are just as nessasary as eyeglasses or hearing aides) Keep fighting for your son. Teach him to not be ashamed of any diagnoses and use any accommodations that work for him. Your manager is an idiot.

        4. anonymous regular*

          Yep. Or the time I went to the campus health center, presenting with suicidal ideation, and was told “Don’t worry, all college students are stressed.” :-/

          1. Frozen Ginger*

            Oh yeah and “Have you tried meditating?” Meditation helps with stress; it does nothing for self loathing!

            1. Competent Commenter*

              You make me feel better, Frozen Ginger! Meditating makes me FURIOUS! Not relaxing or positive for me whatsoever. I usually start crying within five minutes. It seems to put me in the same space as some PTSD symptoms I still have from an ex. Just takes me to a very bad place very quickly.

          2. Oranges*

            Seventh Grade: teacher asks if anyone has had suicidal thoughts. I raise my hand. He goes on about it being a normal part of being a teen. DOESN’T TELL MY MOM AND DAD.

            Sleep Apnea: went undiagnosed until I was 19 because my depression was obviously causing my tiredness. Nope! It was my waking up 34 TIMES AN HOUR. Thank gods my mom fought so hard for getting me into a sleep study. Seriously. I was a text book case (snoring, loud breathing, pauses in breathing during sleep).

            TL; DR: Keep on being an awesome mom. Doctors know a lot but they don’t know your son like you do.

            1. Julia*

              Sleep apnea is so difficult to get diagnosed. My husband says I stop breathing at night sometimes, and yet the doctor didn’t believe HIM and said I was too young and slim for it. (The only time doctors ever call me slim is when it rules out medical conditions. -.-)

              One other doctor finally agreed to refer me for a sleep study, but that doctor’s assistants kept calling me at work to arrange the appointment and after telling them to not call me at work, but my cell phone, several times, they refused to see me because I had been ‘rude’.

              1. Chickwriter*

                Julia, FWIW, the study correlating sleep apnea with obesity has been discredited, because the researcher falsified data. That said, many doctors haven’t a clue about that. I’ve found it’s hit or miss with sleep docs, I’ve got an awesome one now, but it took some time finding him.

            2. Cherith Ponsonby*

              I went to the dogtor with symptoms that indicated glandular fever (mono) – went for testing, results indicated I’d already had glandular fever. I managed to trace it back to a period at age 18 when my (different) doctor insisted everything was due to my recently-diagnosed depression and told me I should get more exercise.

              An instructor of Mr P’s acquaintance is convinced that depression didn’t exist 100 years ago and ADHD is a myth. Mr P has participated in double-blind studies with me on the latter subject (he didn’t know whether I’d taken my tablets, and I’d completely forgotten until I checked my pill box), but he just bites his tongue and tries to redirect the subject to chemtrails or something.

              1. Julia*

                Even if depression did not exist 100 years ago (and I’m betting it did), what does that have to do with patients now?

                A lot of illnesses didn’t receive treatment back in the old days – people just freaking died.

                1. Cherith Ponsonby*

                  Yeah, we didn’t have medicine-grade penicillin 100 years ago (we barely had it 75 years ago). And depression has been around for a long time – melancholic temperament, anyone? Even if you discount that, just the word has been around for a few hundred years.

                  It makes me very cranky. This particular person is at least consistent – he and his partner are vegan, live in the country, grow their own food (and green tea), take natural remedies, all that sort of thing, and they’re happy and healthy so at least it works for them. But I want to slap those people I know who want antibiotics for every cold but think I should have the “strength of character” to do without my meds.

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                I presume this instructor has heard of Abraham Lincoln, who is widely thought to have suffered from depression.

                1. Turtledove*

                  Per the podcast “Sawbones”, Lincoln very likely had *something* that he took Blue Mass (a mercury-based medication of the period that was mainly prescribed for depression and other mood disorders) for. And he stopped taking it, because he felt it caused violent mood swings.

        5. RosesAreWhite*

          Yeah. Also reminds me of the year when I was fainting all the time – the doctors said circulation problems were normal for teenage girls and I shouldn’t worry about it.
          It later turned out that I didn’t get enough oxygen because my lungs weren’t working properly.

      2. Annabelle*

        This. I have inattentive ADHD, but I was never a hyper kid so my mother quite literally ignored the diagnosis and I didn’t get treatment until college. It’s so much more than just “excess energy.”

        1. SystemsLady*

          As a gifted kid with adult-diagnosed ADHD for those exact reasons, thumbs up to OP for taking up a lot more effort than my parents would’ve had to take to get him some help. Having grown up in the 90s, I’m also jealous that kids with ADHD today are growing up in a world that, at least in the medical and educational fields, much better understands the full ADHD spectrum. With the giftedness interacting and the definition being different back then, I don’t think my parents could’ve possibly caught it.

          OP, if your son’s anything like me, he’ll be saved many long years of extra intense imposter syndrome and feeling like a walking contradiction (who can say ace math tests but can’t clean his room).

          1. Annabelle*

            Yeah, I was also in my school’s gifted program and I think that convinced my parents that I couldn’t possibly need treatment/support. It’s awesome to see parents like OP who take these sorts of things seriously and are being proactive.

          2. JustaTech*

            I’m pretty sure the only reason I was ever diagnosed with inattentive ADHD as a girl in the ’90’s was because my little brother was such a classic text-book case of ADHD and I spent a lot of time in his psychiatrists’s waiting room.
            Getting it treated (even just giving it a name) did wonders for my state of mind, above and beyond what it did for my academics.

          3. AKJ*

            Seconding this. I started reading at three and by grade school I was placed in a gifted program for a while. My mother could not understand why her very smart and talkative daughter couldn’t remember to brush her hair before school. My teacher once told her “AKJ just needs to learn how to focus, she has such potential!” Based on the comments on my report cards, if I were twenty years younger I would have been diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten or first grade – it is that obvious in retrospect.
            Proper treatment will make such a difference for your son, OP. I didn’t get it until I was an adult. I’m much happier and more productive now that I know what’s going on in my ADHD brain, but I can’t help but think of all the years of stress and anxiety that might have been avoided if we had the understanding of ADHD that we have today.

          4. nonymous*

            To this day I am convinced that my nephew was gifted (self-taught reader at 3, capable of simple algebra at 4) but like you was never able to clean his room. He’s 26 now, and I agree – we definitely had a very different understanding of development and appropriate techniques back then.

            While I am not up to date regarding the medical and educational tools available, I wanted to point out that for some kids parents don’t act as an advocate which can put the smart ones at a disadvantage because they’re often coping just well enough to stay under institutional radars.

          5. Jaydee*

            Also a gifted kid diagnosed with inattentive-type ADHD as an adult. My self-esteem is higher than it has been in a long time because I know there is a legit *reason* I struggle with the things I struggle with. Being smart and having a disability are not mutually exclusive. Being smart can help you compensate – to a point. But by 36 it is exhausting and demoralizing to keep hearing things like “you just have so much *potential* [that you aren’t living up to]” or “everyone else can do X without a problem, so I don’t understand why you can’t do X.”

          6. Cherith Ponsonby*

            Another ex-gifted ADHD kid here (adult reading age by the time I started school, taught myself long multiplication from a SF story) who wasn’t diagnosed until age 40. My brother was a much more obvious case and was diagnosed around age 20 – unfortunately I’d already moved out by that stage so nobody twigged that I might have it too – and he had to jump through so many hoops. I turned up to the psychiatrist with my report cards and my family history and she called me a textbook case. I am so much more happy and confident now I’m not spending so much energy trying to be “normal” and berating myself when it doesn’t work.

            (My parents are hugely supportive now but still have their clueless moments. “You can sit still and read a book, are you sure you have the hyperactive variety?” asks my mum, while I’m sitting at the dinner table swaying rhythmically in my chair, tapping out a beat with my toes and performing arcane gestures with my fork and one of the serving spoons.)

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep! I’m toeing the line between inattentive and combined type, but I learned early to get wicked good at hyperfocus and completely slid under the radar until my late 20s…. like so many women. It’s a massive PITA.

          1. BeezLouise*

            Yes to all of this. Gifted classes my whole life, did great on most schoolwork except busywork and remembering deadlines, wasn’t diagnosed until my early 20s when I tried to balance working full time ish and school and couldn’t pull it off.

            An earlier diagnosis would have been life changing for me.

          2. Lab Monkey*

            I have the same borderline inattentive/combined type and got diagnosed a month ago, in my early 30s. I was also a gifted kid (reading at 3, same story we all have :D ), and I was diagnosed with autism in my mid 20s. That is and was correct, but a lot of the ADHD stuff went overlooked because it overlaps with that dx. Everything else, I figured “I know what’s going on in my brain, I’m just lazy/bad/stupid.” Adding the ADHD dx has been a revelation.

          3. NicoleT*

            I have ADD AND OCD. My psych said it’s likely I was never diagnosed with the ADD as a kid because my OCD tendencies allowed me to cope well enough. Plus, I’m a girl, and back then ADD was “new” and thought only to present in boys.

            1. Merci Dee*

              My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in first grade, and then OCD in 5th. Her OCD tends toward hoarding, though, so it does nothing to help compensate for her ADHD — it tends to make the disorganization even worse. But we’ve had her on some great meds for the past couple of years that have really helped to level out her OCD without making the ADHD worse, or vice versa.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                It was really fascinating for me newly getting an ADHD diagnosis at the same time my roommate was getting her OCD diagnosed; we presented with a lot of similar symptoms (“I can’t focus on this thing, that thing over there is WAY MORE IMPORTANT to my stupid lizard brain!”) but coping strategies that worked well for her exacerbated everything for me, and vice versa.

      3. many bells down*

        My daughter DOES have hyperactivity, but it expressed as constant, inappropriate socialization. She just could not stop chatting with friends, sometimes talking right over the teacher. And it still took until high school to get her properly diagnosed. One doctor told me she had bipolar disorder, even though she met none of the criteria, because that’s apparently easier to believe than a girl with ADHD.

        1. Annabelle*

          Oh man, I did the chatting thing too! For me it was more a manifestation of my intense inattentiveness with lecture-type stuff, though.

        2. teclatrans*

          Yeah, when I was looking into my own adult-ADHD diagnosis (inattentive) and having to work past lots of personal and professional resistance, learning that chattiness was a form of hyperactivity was a revelation (along with the fact that estrogen makes symptoms worse and so many symptoms appear in girls during prepubescence). For me, I think hyper-focus kicks in too, so then I just. can’t.stop.

        3. Cherith Ponsonby*

          I didn’t know excessive chattiness was an ADHD thing! I thought it was just me!

          *deletes extra few paragraphs of excessive chat*

    2. Kyrielle*

      All of this. Boys – like all children! – have lots of energy. And it’s more socially acceptable for them to express it, I think.

      However. A child with issues rising to the level of taking them in for an evaluation is probably exhibiting more than typical “exuberance” and “energy”.

      And hey, maybe he doesn’t have ADHD! That’s…what an evaluation is for. And it’s a process involving parent/teacher forms about behavior and assessments because, while you can formulate a very good guess in some cases, it does need a full evaluation to be sure it’s not something else (or maybe something else along-with, as with the giftedness – which is not a pure positive either as some people think).

      In the (probably unlikely, because OP does know her child!) event that the evaluation comes back that he is not ADHD and doesn’t need ongoing treatment for that or anything else, great. But the point of an evaluation is to determine that…which is not best done by a 5-minute armchair diagnosis from someone who has never met him nor talked to any of his family or teachers in detail about his behavior.

      I mean, it’s not even best done by an armchair diagnosis by someone who *has* met him – though a recommendation to get an evaluation might come from that quarter. I know two boys who are friends – they presented the same very vigorous, sometimes rule-bending/norm-breaking behavior as they entered school. One was able to rein it in on his own, when the consequences of not doing so happened. The other was not, and has been diagnosed with ADHD and is doing ever-so-much better now that he is being treated, and helped with the issues that made it hard for him to rein it in on his own.

      Had you asked me at the start of kindergarten, I would have considered them both equally likely or unlikely to receive a diagnosis.

      1. Red Reader*

        My brother and I were in the same boat as your referenced boys, aye. I reined it in, and my brother is still singing the blessings of his ongoing ADHD treatment 30 years later.

    3. Samiratou*

      OMG, yes. As the parent of an ADHD child, I tend to ask people if they want to take him for the weekend, without his meds.

      Strangely, nobody has taken me up on it.

      1. AKJ*

        I had a prescription change recently and unexpectedly had to go without meds for a few days while my pharmacy straightened things out – it was awful. One of my coworkers told me that seeing the difference between my medicated self and my unmedicated self was enough to convince her that medication was necessary for ADHD! She’d been on the fence before.
        (That was kind of embarrassing, though. I was trying so hard not to let it show, but I apparently didn’t do as well as I’d thought!)

        1. Liane*

          It depends on where you are, but at least some US states allow pharmacists to dispense a small number of doses for situations like that. My then-teen daughter was off anti-depressant for a few days, because the doctor’s office didn’t fax the refill. The store pharmacist where I worked learned what had happened after he finally got the refill prescription. Pharmacist went to the service desk (where I worked) to tell me that I should see him ASAP if something like that happened again, because he would authorise a week’s doses for her while his staff prodded the doctor’s office.

          1. Jaydee*

            It doesn’t work the same for stimulant meds for ADHD because they are a controlled substance. I can only get a one month supply, and no refills. My provider can send up to 3 months of prescriptions to the pharmacy at a time, but they are still separate ‘scripts, so I have to call the pharmacy and talk to the pharmacist rather than using the automatic refill options like I do for my anxiety meds.

      2. AKchic*

        My ex-husband was anti-medication. To the point he was willing to fight me for custody to ensure our son would not be on medication.
        When our son got violent at school and it was either he go on medication or not be allowed at school anymore, I had to make the decision to put him on medication. I had no other options because I could not homeschool him.

        When his father got him for the summer, I asked my MIL (who did the baby-sitting) to take a week long vacation away, and conveniently hide the medication. My son knew he’d be taking a medication vacation (allowed, and planned by the doctor). At that time, my ex was still ranting about the evils of Ritalin (not what our son was on) and all ADHD medications. That week-long med break was a real eye-opener for him. He has never complained about our son being on medication again.
        You’d think an EMT studying to be a nurse would be a little less anti-medicine, right?

        1. Alli525*

          Geez. Glad he’s an ex. That’s like my mother taking quarter-doses (!) of her anti-depressant meds because she “didn’t want to get hooked.” (Nevermind that she was an R.N., had a master’s in counseling, and worked in psych units for much of her career.) It’s a deficiency in brain chemistry or makeup – it’s ok to get “hooked” on things that correct an imbalance!

          1. seejay*

            My mother, a recovered alcoholic, had a *huge* block against medications for mental illness because she had seen a lot of alcoholics become “hooked” on them after getting off the booze and considered them just as bad as drinking, aka, essentially a replacement for it. In her mind, from reading a lot of books on psychiatry and psychology, a lot of mental illness was a matter of just thinking better thoughts and working your way out of it or talking through it with a good counselor or whatever else worked and relying on medication was wrong.

            After watching a friend go through manic episodes though (and researching it myself), I picked up traces of the behaviour in my mom. She always had that type of personality and behaviour though, which we just shrugged off. The thing is, it got way worse when she hit menopause, to the point that it was seriously alarming. I told her she needed to talk to her doctor and maybe see about medication to deal with her really violent mood swings (we’re talking calling me up and screaming at me because she saw something on tv that upset her out of the blue and she’s call me to scream at me because of it). She’d literally burst into tears that she didn’t want to be on medication and she just wanted to *~feel~* then the next day she’d be over the moon happy. This went on for months until her sister, who had gone through a huge depression because of a death in her family, told her she needed to talk to her doctor about her manic episodes. And lo, she did and wound up on mood stabilizers because woops, she actually was having serious issues that needed medications. She just needed someone else besides me telling her (and someone to get through to her that sometimes you need more than happy thoughts and daily medications aren’t always bad). :/

            1. Kyrielle*

              Yeah. :/ I mean, right now we have a big issue with opiate abuse too, yes? And yet, two weeks ago I had and took oxycodone. I’d just had sinus surgery – they rearranged the insides of my nose and removed some of them also – of course I took oxycodone! That’s reasonable and necessary.

              If I took it when I didn’t need a pain-killer of that caliber, or longer than I needed it, that would be a problem.

              That doesn’t make taking the meds if you need them and they work for you bad, however. Same thing with other medications, including ones that treat mental health issues.

      3. No Green No Haze*

        Friend of mine dropped her kid off with the grandparents and, whether intentionally or not, kid did not get medication for at least part of that stay. And on that weekend, two skeptics saw the light.

        (I don’t recall whether GPs purposely withheld meds or if there was just an Rx snafu; only that they had been quite doubtful that said kid needed them and afterwards were no longer.)

  2. Justme*

    Manager is making my head explode over here. She should not have discussed this with her husband and her “advice” was completely out of line.

    Medical care for your child is not frivolous. You know him best. Keep that appointment, and make as many as necessary to get diagnosis and treatment for him.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      It’s extremely common for people to talk to their spouses about sensitive stuff. I go by the rule that anything I tell someone in a serious relationship they share with their partner.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah, but this is about an employee’s child’s medical needs—it’s not interpersonal “sensitive stuff.” Boss is totally out of bounds, even if people (generally) share information with their spouses. And loads of managers are able to distinguish between information they can share with their partners and information they cannot. Although your rule of thumb is helpful for personal relationships, I think OP is justifiable frustrated and that it’s appropriate/ok for OP to enforce boundaries with her overbearing boss.

        1. Sarah*

          Also it’s one thing to share things with your spouse in private, but quite another to then have that conversation spread beyond the two of you. For example, I might complain about a frustrating student to my spouse (without using names), but I would never then go back to that student the next day and say “Oh, I was complaining about you last night, and my husband has some great advice to share with you!”

          1. Anna*

            This. This. This. Unless husband was offering some actual advice “If that person doesn’t work out, my husband knows someone who specializes and is great” then keep it to yourself. And even then, proceed with extreme caution.

          2. seejay*

            Yes this. Totally this. I can understand that partners/spouses share intimate details with each other, as long as people/situations they’re discussing are not someone they know together *or* there’s no breach in confidentiality that’s got legal binding issues tied to it, but it’s when it comes back to the person that “I talked to my partner/spouse/SO about you and he/she said this and you should try that” is where it’s crossed the line into no-no territory.

            The manager totally crossed the line by coming back and offering her unwanted and uneducated opinion, especially with the “my husband also said” tacked onto it.

          3. Former Hoosier*

            Exactly. It seems a little bizarre that the manager mentioned it to her boss at all but we all do bring home work situations at times. And sometimes my spouse and I give each other advice about a situation. But I don’t come in and say, my partner said to tell you. So weird.

      2. EmilyAnn*

        I also understand that anything I tell anyone in a serious relationship can be relayed to their partner. I don’t expect the person to come back to me and give me their partner’s opinion on what I told them. It’s a one way street.

        1. Lehigh*


          It’s also somewhat different in social situations, where I’m always upfront that I do not and will not keep secrets from my husband and if you tell me he’s also going to know (so it won’t be a surprise to hear he was told) vs. work situations where his opinion is categorically irrelevant. If I agree with it, I can present it as my own.

          1. Anon for this one, please.*

            I just wanted to bounce off your comment to say that not everything you do not share with a partner is keeping a secret! If I tell a friend something in confidence about my own life, I don’t expect that my friend will share this information with their partner. These are not your stories to tell, especially when they in no way affect the partner you are sharing with; then you are basically just gossiping.

            Lehigh, I applaud you for being upfront with friends that you will share things with your husband, but I’ve seen so many people here comment that they do this I wanted to say something. It is one thing to have none of your own secrets from your partner, but if a friend tells you something about a painful, traumatic, or just private experience, it is pretty crappy of people to make the decision to tell a third party what it might have been really difficult for that friend to share.

            1. OhNo*

              Agreed. If someone shares something particularly personal, I always ask, “Can I share this information with [group/person]? Or would you rather I kept it to myself?”

              I always appreciate getting that question so I can decide how or if I want the information spread, so it only makes sense to ask it of others, too.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Yes, this. I know for a fact that there are details about some events in our shared broader friend circle that my husband knows but I don’t, because the person involved is relatively close to my husband and asked him for advice with a difficult personal problem. We’re all friendly with each other but I’d be really taken aback if my husband were to tell me the intimate details because it would be a breach of trust on his part.

        2. EddieSherbert*


          We all may know she’s going to share it with their SO, but it’s common courtesy that we all pretend she didn’t!

        3. Health Insurance Nerd*


          I tell my husband a lot, but I don’t go back to the person we were talking about with his thoughts on the situation!

        4. Kyrielle*

          So, so much this.

          And honestly, medical information about an employee, maybe not the best thing to share with your spouse even if you can. But if you do, for goodness’ sake don’t come back and tell your employee his opinion about it.

        5. Future Analyst*

          Ha, yes. I fully expect anything I tell a friend to make it to her spouse/partner, but I would be taken aback if she or her partner referenced it later.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The only way I would do this is if my husband were an actual expert on the subject, and then I would ASK the person first. Like “Steve happens to be a teapot allergist specializing in spout rashes; would you like me to see if he has any information that could be helpful?” And then if they decline, “Okay,” and then DROP IT.

            1. SongBird*

              The mental image of a teapot looking sadly down at its spout-rash has made me glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read your comment. Golly, I want a sketch of that! :D

        6. Falling Diphthong*

          This. I’ll defend “I need to talk to my spouse” re “taking this new job, which will impact them.” But you don’t relay your spouse’s thoughts on whether an employee really needs time off. Especially when what you’re relaying is not “Based on his experience with Crohn’s disease, my husband suggests your dad see this type of specialist” but “Based on my husband’s experience of being a boy…”

      3. Will "scifantasy" Frank*

        That’s true, and I would not ever expect the manager to have kept this from her spouse…but there’s a distinction between talking to, or telling, one’s spouse and _discussing_ it.

        The manager brought her spouse into what she created as an ongoing conversation, or even debate, about the OP’s child’s psychological care. That was inappropriate on multiple levels.

      4. Ms. Mad Scientist*

        Indeed-I discuss work problems with my husband all the time (we’re in different fields). I hope he never goes to his employees and say “My wife says to do [x]”

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          I find it helpful to discuss issues with my fiance BECAUSE he is in a completely different field. He has a very different schedule and chain of command than I do, so he will look at things from another point of view than I do. Sometimes we will disagree, but if we come to the same conclusion I can assume I am not over or underreacting to something.

          1. Amber T*

            It’s definitely one thing if your partner, or even another close friend/family member, shares insight you might not have (from being in a different field, from being in a different part of the hierarchy, etc.). In that case, you (and I mean the general ‘you’) are getting the opportunity to learn and see something from a different perspective, which is great, and definitely useful for a manager. If you come home with a problem and say “I think I should do A,” and your partner says “Have you considered B?” that’s great, because new perspective.

            But… this isn’t a work related problem. The only work issue here that the manager should be concerned about is whether there’s enough coverage to allow OP to take a day off (because granting PTO should never be about the reason why an employee wants/needs a day off). I get that when someone tells you something, you automatically form an opinion, and I get that the manager wanted to share her husband because that’s what partners do. However, it’s beyond inappropriate to 1) share your own opinion on someone else’s health when you have no experience with the individual, and 2) to share someone else’s opinion, because WTF??

          2. JessaB*

            Yes but smart managers don’t admit that downstream. You’re supposed to pretend you don’t have those conversations. And you’d better NOT have them if partner isn’t discreet enough to keep their mouth shut. If partner is a blabbermouth you shouldn’t share work stuff, and if you do you better strip it of anything that might identify who you’re talking about.

            1. Future Analyst*

              Right. I don’t think the issue is that the manager discussed it, but that she came back and talked about the outcome of that conversation!

              1. Liane*

                “Freja says she and Apollo are having a GoT themed wedding. Who does that after binge-watching Season 3?” Sure tell your spouse–tell everyone at your family reunion!–just don’t tell Freja, “Mr. Manager thinks your wedding theme should be ’70s Battlestar Galactica.”

                BUT this is *private medical stuff* and Manager discussing it with ANYone else is part of the issue. IMO, Manager shouldn’t be discussing it with others at work, unless it is something like calling the benefits person and asking, without giving names, “Does our EAP offer any assistance for employees’ family members? And what’s the EAP phone/website again?”

                1. CMart*

                  I dunno, I’m still not all that scandalized by the *~private medical info~* aspect of it. Mostly because it ceased to be “private” information when the LW shared it.

                  But also because I just don’t see conversations like this as off-limits. I may very well be an irredeemable gossip, though. An example from my actual life that I think parallels this situation.

                  Mr.Mart: “How was work today?”
                  CMart: “Good, busy toward the end because Kimberly needs tomorrow off. Get this–she’s going to a chiropractor because, uh, her allergies have been acting up?”
                  Mr.Mart: “Wait, what?”
                  CMart: “You heard me. IDK. Apparently her chiropractor claims they can cure allergies.”
                  Mr.Mart: “That is definitely now how allergies work.”

                  This was a conversation in the first place because I (an allergy sufferer and big fan of my chiropractor who makes my hips and spine feel better) thought it was a bit of a kooky situation and I enjoy sharing kooky things with my husband. Maybe that was a huge breach of trusted information, but it stayed between my husband and I… and now the Internet, I guess.

                  It could also have easily just as gone as:
                  CMart: “Good, busy toward the end because Kimberly needs tomorrow off. Her allergies apparently have been killing her for ages and she’s at her wits’ end so she’s going to see a chiropractor to see if it helps. Poor thing. I hope it does.”
                  Mr.Mart: [insert rant about how that’s not how allergies work]

          3. Cherith Ponsonby*

            I sometimes discuss work issues with Mr P (I work with developers, and he’s a developer), but I obfuscate the details – so he knows I work with Annoying Devsplainer, Talky Business Stakeholder, Top Intern and Really Nice BA (for example) but he couldn’t pick them out on the org chart.

            And on the odd occasion that he does have useful advice that I want to share with the team, I present it as “have we considered X?” or “in a similar situation Mr P did thing Q”, not “I talked to my partner and he says you should blah blah”

          1. JulieBulie*

            I don’t think he was even a manager – he was a team member. And with each new idea, he would get his wife’s opinion on it and share it with the team.

            I know it’s not the most colorful letter I’ve read since I began frequenting this site, but I still found it one of the most intriguing, because, like, what the hell?

            1. CMart*

              Pretty sure it was an intern/new employee who was the son of one of the executives. The LW was wondering if it was their place to counsel the guy about how name-dropping his dad as “my dad” about work-related things wasn’t a good, nor was it doing any help to his credibility that he would frequently say he ran something by his wife and then offer up her suggestions, as if he expected people to listen.

      5. Garble*

        Agreed, but it doesn’t mean they should. And what do you do about a sensitive work topic where you have to divulge details? I’m sure my boss blabbed everything to her husband about the sexual harassment complaint I made. It still makes me angry.

      6. SLR*

        I agree here, I talk with my spouse about sensitive work stuff all the time. The thing is that I don’t advertise that we discuss these things.

        1. JessaB*

          And I’m sure your spouse doesn’t talk out of turn about it at the company picnic either. That’s the sensible way to do it.

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        Well sure, my partner and I discuss things about coworkers all the time, but I would never tell them that.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      As they say on The Good Place, manager is being a total motherforking bench, and she and her husband need to shut the fork up.

    3. Alton*

      I don’t really have a problem with her mentioning it to her husband. That happens. Unless it’s something actually confidential (like a lawyer sharing privileged information), I think it can be normal for people to share stuff that happens at work with their SO. But it was inappropriate of her to let the OP know she’d done this and offer her husband’s opinions like the OP is supposed to care.

    4. Statler von Waldorf*

      I can’t speak about other jurisdictions, but this would be qualify as an offense under the Privacy Act of British Columbia. I’d use Alison’s classic “I’m sure you are not aware that this breaks the law, so let me courteously bring that to your attention,” routine if my boss tried this dumbass stunt with me.

      1. Former Hoosier*

        It isn’t in the US. If you voluntarily share private medical information with your manager, she/he has no legal requirement to keep it private. Also FMLA documentation is not protected by HIPAA either. Now I don’t agree with the manager, but she would get in trouble legally in US

    5. ket*

      A lot of people here say “Oh I tell my spouse everything!” but I find that mildly horrifying — either don’t discuss it, as Justme suggests, or anonymize it. “A nurse I work with has a kid with…” or something like that. Give people their privacy. I don’t discuss my friends’ gynecological problems with my husband unless the friend is very open about them. I don’t discuss my friends’ marital problems with my husband except in an anonymized or general way. We both feel our friends should have space to talk to us without the spouse getting involved, and I want my husband to be able to hang out at parties without thinking, So that’s the guy who’s cheating! and she’s the one with a blocked Fallopian tube!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Seriously. Your spouse is not an extension of yourself, and not telling your spouse everything about everyone no matter what is not some kind of ~keeping secrets~ betrayal. (And where did this idea that keeping secrets from someone is always terrible come from? Why shouldn’t people, even married people, be allowed to have things that are private?)

    6. Jaydee*

      I’m not bothered that she talked to her husband about it. I mean, ideally that stuff would be kept private but I assume spouses talk to each other about stuff they wouldn’t talk to other people about. But she had no business coming back and sharing his advice with the OP.

  3. Bend & Snap*


    I totally agree with this. Don’t tell her anything else about your son’s medical care and go about your business.

    My daughter had some severe health issues from birth until about 3. I did not appreciate input from randos. My boss was nothing but supportive so I shared what was happening, but if he had started spouting off advice based on nothing and minimizing my concerns, I would have just clammed up.

    People can be awful. You know your child best and you’re doing what he needs right now.

  4. MuseumChick*


    If she tries to bring it up again I would go with “Oh, since this is my son’s private medical information I’m discussing it with anyone other than his doctors..”

    1. Bossy Magoo*

      Love this (I’m assuming you typed too fast and missed the “not” – i.e. I’m *not* discussing it with….). This is polite, respectful of your son, and hard to argue with.

  5. Nope.*

    WOW the manager here is out of line. Also, the “boys will be boys” line of thinking of the husband is just so toxic.

    1. Nea*

      THANK YOU. TBH, I’m more appalled at that attitude (and the accompanying casualness about repeatedly pounding on kids) than I am with the infraction that made OP write in.

    2. LadyCop*

      Right? I mean I was waiting for the “her husband is a pediatrician” line…but oh college professor!

      Oh wait. That explains the attitude perfectly ;)

  6. Katie the Fed*

    Ugh. People are just such judgemental busybodies when it comes to children. Honestly, I’d just have kept it to “my son needs to see a specialist in another city.” But now that the door is opened, I’d just leave all updates REALLY vague and noncommittal. You can even say “ughhh you know talking about this so much stresses me out! I come to work to get away from it” with a laugh and change the subject.

    1. Snark*

      Oh yeah. No detail at all. “I’ll need to have the 24th off for a doctor’s appointment.” Boss has demonstrated that they’re nosy as fuck, so give them nothing to nose through.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        Right, and if she asks what the appointment is for, “It’s a private matter” should be sufficient.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          And if she keeps prying just stick with “it’s private” or “I’d rather not discuss it.”

          If she specifically asks if it’s for Child, say “Why? Does it matter?”

          (I was going to throw in an ‘ if you’re comfortable’, but you’ve already done a great job standing your ground!)

      2. BF50*

        You can even drop the “doctor’s” from that. People have non-medical, daytime appointments all the time. For instance, with your insurance agent, banker, mortgage broker, roofer, tree guy, cable guy, kids school, etc.

        This lady has lost the privilege of knowing what kind of appointment you have.

  7. Granny K*

    Starting a list: Things that appear on AAM that one obviously shouldn’t do in the work place, but people do them anyway, hence, this list:
    1. (From yesterday): Don’t sit on other people’s laps while in the office during normal business hours
    2. Your coworkers don’t care what your spouse thinks–especially if your spouse doesn’t work at your company.
    3. Unless asking for a recipe for a dish, don’t discuss what other people eat in the workplace, or if you can have some.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      4. Don’t “ghost” an ex, eapecially if they are in the same occupation
      5. Don’t start a Duck Club

        1. Alli525*

          6a. No bodily functions into potted plants.

          Special non-thanks to Harvey Weinstein for publicly demonstrating a horrifying new way to desecrate local flora.

        2. Anonnymouse2*

          8. Don’t empty your subordinate’s water bottle and fill it from the toilet.

          Oh, wait, that’s the one where OP was crazy because people just don’t do batshit things like that.

    2. Cleopatra Jones*

      1. Don’t call your boss’s daughter a whore. Ever!
      2. Don’t use your managerial role to ostracize your subordinate because she doesn’t fit into your frat bro culture.

      1. Liane*

        *Don’t barge into a report’s medical treatment
        …or wedding ceremony
        …or funeral/memorial they are attending

        *Don’t say ANYthing but “Yes! Congrats! Nonsense, take the whole day off–you’ll want to celebrate!” when an employee asks for a few hours off to attend their graduation ceremony

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          And don’t force a coworker to barge into a treatment, ceremony, ot funeral either.

          In fact, don’t bug anyone in those cases, just don’t.

        2. Jaydee*

          And don’t [send an entry-level employee or intern to] leave an angry note on their loved one’s grave.

      2. LQ*

        9. Don’t show up at your employee’s chemo or dialysis appointments.
        10. Don’t withhold phone call information about life or death situations.

    3. JulieBulie*

      ##. No tickling! (Another one that still haunts me)
      ##+1. If someone leaves a message that your coworker’s wife has been shot, notify the coworker promptly, Percival you jerk.

    4. MuseumChick*

      Oh almost forgot

      #561 – Do NOT ask your report to leave a note on a grave. Ever. Under any circumstances.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        1001 – don’t force someone to work their graduation.
        1002- Don’t get mad when they tell you to eff off and leave for their graduation

    5. Cherith Ponsonby*

      Not necessarily obvious, but common: if your job sucks and your boss is a jerk, don’t expect either of them to change.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Don’t go to your employee’s house and start banging on the walls if they didn’t show up for work. (I can’t remember now if they were supposed to be having a day off or had quit. Or am I confusing this with a story I heard somewhere else?).

      Don’t tell people that you “don’t accept” their resignation and continue to put them on your schedule.

  8. Antilles*

    Recently my seven-year-old son’s pediatrician has recommended that he be evaluated by a psychologist for ADHD and giftedness. […] (Boss’s husband) said that I was overreacting — that excessive energy was normal and to be expected for a boy.
    It’s impressive that Boss’s husband knows more about modern children’s medicine than an actual board-licensed pediatrician…

    1. Antilles*

      (that was sarcasm, just in case that wasn’t clear – I’m betting there’s a near-100% chance his entire ‘knowledge’ base about ADHD comes from commercials)

    2. paul*

      The fact he’s a professor makes so incredibly mad. I’d like to turn his schools pysch profs loose on him.

      1. Snark*

        It’s the Sheldon Cooper Effect. “I am incredibly educated and knowledgeable in [academic field], which means I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains.”

              1. the gold digger*

                I rarely challenged Sly because he would take his anger out on my husband’s mother rather than back at me, but this time, he was so, so objectively wrong that I could not stop myself.

                It was glorious.

              1. Emi.*

                I once tutored a college student who didn’t know that even numbers were divisible by 2. You’re probably fine.

                1. FormerEmployee*

                  I couldn’t reply to “bells”, but I might have said that X is any number you want it to be, which is sort of correct if you are the one designing the formula/equation.

            1. Oranges*

              This made me giggle, and underscored my “don’t be an a**hat because you’re smarter than others”. Yes, I am very intelligent but so what? The worthiness of a human (to me) is if they make the world a better place. Intelligence is just another tool for that end.

              Your husband’s father is doing it wrong.

        1. esra (also a Canadian)*


          /signed, the weariest graphic designer

        2. SSS*

          Especially if he stayed in a “Holiday Inn” last night.
          (for the non-USA readers, it’s a reference to a set of television commercials about know-it-alls who became instant smart based on their hotel choice)

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          The funny thing is that for me, the process of getting a PhD was so incredibly humbling because I realized how much I DON’T know and how much there is TO know in the wider world.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Me too! What the heck is wrong with me that I finished feeling like the biggest moron on the entire planet and like I was so cripplingly stupid that I’d never be able to work again, instead of feeling like I know everything there is to know and can therefore start giving advice on rocket surgery, even though I studied archaeology?

    3. DecorativeCacti*

      Also, the kid is just at the “evaluation” stage. The specialist may in fact say the kid just has a lot of energy and needs to try some sports. But I think this is another one of those vaguely mental health related things that people try to treat like physical ailments (and armchair diagnose).

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Right, and if the boss actually had a dog in this fight, I’d say “Well, that’s why we’re seeing a specialist, to get him evaluated and see if he does need treatment.” But since it’s not any of the boss’s business whatsoever, she doesn’t even deserve that much information.

    4. Wait, what?*

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? I also have a seven year old son with ADHD and possibly other neuro-developmental issues. Ever since he was in junior Kindergarten, we’ve worked closely with his teachers, principals, Spec. Ed. teachers, social workers, his regular pediatrician, and a team of pediatric psychiatrists and psychologists at an ADHD clinic. Also, his dad and I are both teachers. This whole flock of professionals agree that our son has learning and behavioural issues that require specialized care and intervention.

      And yet somehow, my friend’s husband (who doesn’t have kids, doesn’t work with kids, has no training in education, psychology or neurology) is absolutely certain that we’re making a big deal out of nothing. He has met my son maybe 3 times and apparently knows for certain that he is a perfectly normal little boy. All we have to do is feed him a 100% paleo / keto diet and he’ll be golden.


      1. Future Analyst*

        Man. People can be such… simplistic loons. If I wasn’t so averse to anything awkward, I would lean allllllll the way into that conversation, and say, “Great! I also have recurring yeast infections, and anxiety, and every once in a while my knees do this popping thing, and when the temps drop below 73.2 degrees, I start sneezing. Would you mind writing up an eating plan for me to address all of those issues? Thanks!!”

      2. RA Patient*

        Oh yes. My youngest had some problems early on and I got so tired of this. And I have a auto immune disease and people tell me to drink cabbage juice, or exercise or not take the medicine that Big Pharma is just profiting off of. Let me tell you, when you wake up in tears because of pain and literally cannot put your feet on the floor because of the pain, you don’t really care at all about Big Pharma’s profit when the medication works and for me, it does.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          People who moralize about “Big Pharma” at people who need medication to function deserve to learn their lesson through painful personal experience of the same thing. I’m coming right out and saying that and I’m not sorry.

          1. ConstitutionallyVerbose*

            The thing is- as one of those people- the pharmaceutical companies ARE terrible!!! It’s just that getting anything done about them is impossible because most of the people who are angriest about them are also “we can cure every disease with paleoglutenfreeketo diets and happy thoughts”.


      3. Moose and Squirrel*

        Ugh. People who think their fad diet can cure every ailment under the sun are the WORST.

      4. Detached Elemental*

        My husband has ADHD. My mother doesn’t believe ADHD exists. It makes for some interesting conversations…

      5. Oranges*

        I had a friend who was convinced I didn’t need my antidepressants (I’ve had major depression since puberty). I wanted to go off them for a week and make her deal with the fall out when she said that. Only I really didn’t want to end up calling in the cavalry because my depression got out of control and I did something stupid.

        Other two friends I was living with at the time had my back though. They had seen me pre-meds and shot her down quickly.

    5. Gandalf the Nude*

      Apparently everyone except licensed clinicians are experts on ADHD (and other mental illnesses). I was recently diagnosed ADHD and had a similar exchange with my cousin, who thought it was appropriate to question my diagnosis on the basis that “the teacher in (her) is usually pretty good about detecting this.” Yes, dear, cousin. You certainly know better than the clinical psychiatrist and the FDA-endorsed QB test.

      1. Amber T*

        Forget about the medically trained experts who spent years studying and working with this! I know more because I read a few things on the internet.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          Probably the same folks who believe they have infallible “gaydar” based on ridiculous stereotypes. Ugh.

          My extremely smart 11-year-old son has ADHD, which we managed through no medical accommodations with the help of his teachers/special ed teachers up through 5th grade, at which point whoa! Did things get rough for him. At which point we were happy to try him out on the lowest dose of meds and had amazing success. Key here is this is decided among my son, we his parents, his doctors, and consulting his teachers. Random people? I couldn’t care less what they think. I’m happy we were able to go so long without meds but it’s a case by case thing and nobody else is entitled to judge.

          Same sorts of people who poo-poo my anxiety and idiopathic anaphylaxis. Those who try to test peoples peanut allergies. I mean opinions mean more than science, right? /sarcasm

          You’re doing the right thing for your son, LW.

      2. SystemsLady*

        My favorite response is “well maybe you’re just lazy”.

        Then……why am I going out of my way to see a doctor (one who in my area books well over a month in advance and between appointment stages) to find a way to get the not done stuff done?

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        In fairness, a running theme on the blog is “Do not attempt to medically diagnose third (or here fourth) parties based on LW’s brief description of them.”

        Because no one has the reaction, “Really, coworker? Strangers on the internet figured out what’s wrong with my child? Thank heavens you asked them!”

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Imagine if the boss were a man, and he came back with “I talked to my wife, and based on her experience being a woman she thinks you’re overreacting.”

  9. Jessie the First (or second)*

    So a person who has never met your child has big opinions on what medical care is appropriate for your child, and you reacted to this news without yelling or throwing anything in your manager’s direction?

    I’m practically throwing things at your manager from here, so I don’t know how you managed to hold it together in person. Good job on that. :-)

    I like Alison’s advice to just deflect and share as little as possible. And take the time off when you need it. Don’t let her husband’s or her concern-trolling get to you.

  10. anon for now*

    I love your in-the-moment response! My son has similar challenges and then some, and it can be so hard because people assume what works for their child will work for yours. Nope – every child is different, and YOU are the ones who know what works (or doesn’t) for YOUR family.

    No advice for the workplace issues – I’m lucky to have very supportive coworkers and supervisors when it comes to all the appointments for evaluations, treatments, school stuff – but some solidarity from another parent.

    1. CM*

      I’m also impressed by your in-the-moment response.

      A deflecting response that works for me is “I hope that’s true!” Your no-nonsense response is better, but sometimes it’s good to have several options for when the person won’t leave you alone and you’re not in a position to freeze them out.

    2. J.B.*

      Yes, every kid is different, and people can be real busybodies. Including family. Who get nothing other than “that’s nice, so how about the weather”.

  11. Health Insurance Nerd*

    I think LWs response in the moment was dead on. As far as time off for frivolous things, your manager doesn’t get to make decide what is frivolous and what is not. Your time off is a benefit, and you are free to use it as you choose without justification (clearly I don’t mean sick time, if you have a separate bank for that). Take a day off to binge watch Game of Thrones, or do laundry, or do nothing!

    1. Justme*

      I recently took a mental health day to do laundry and watch Star Trek. And I wasn’t feeling well when I called in. It was just more of a general malaise than actual illness. I felt much better after that day off too. My benefits, I used them as I saw fit.

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        I think taking a mental health day is maybe one of the least frivolous uses of time off, and if more people took them there’d be less burnout, frustration and turnover in the workplace.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        Bingo! I did this once when I was seriously burned out after a long stretch of work travel; I needed two days to rest, eat takeout, and go see “Gone Girl” in an entirely empty theatre because it was a Monday matinee.

      3. Amber T*

        Mental health days are the best. Every once in a while, there are just a few days in a row where the thought of going to work makes me super anxious, I’m beyond exhausted when I get home, my mood shifts, just blah. This is always because I’m approaching burn out (and it happens because of work and because of personal crap). I need that one day to sit home in my pjs, maybe catch up on some house work or errands, but probably just snuggle up with my cats and watch TV or read a book. I come back so refreshed and feeling great.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I have done this and it is indeed very helpful. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you’re getting sick or you just need to veg. When in doubt, take the day (if you can).

    2. LizB*

      Agreed on all counts. I’m of the opinion that there’s basically no such thing as frivolous use of time off. There’s maybe ill-timed time off (e.g. choosing to take your day to binge watch Game of Thrones on the busiest workday of the year when you really need to be in the office), but I honestly can’t think of a reason someone could have for taking a day off that I would consider frivolous.

      1. SarcasticFringehead*

        I used to judge people for taking their birthdays off, because they’re adults and they should act like it! But also, they’re adults, and as long as their work is getting done and they’re providing adequate notice, who am I to judge them for doing something that makes them happy?

  12. paul*

    OP, you’re doing nothing wrong. Your manager is being unreasonable.

    Sometimes if you’re in a rural area/small town you have to travel for specialized care; and the fact it isn’t convenient doesn’t change that.

    If you’re married it might be best to try to alternate trips with your husband; you take to one appt, he takes the other. It’s entirely possible for therapist or psychologist (and he may wind up seeing both) to want fairly frequent appointments early on when working with a new patient, and that can make scheduling a right PITA even with good managers. I don’t know if this would qualify for FMLA or if your employer is large enough for FMLA to apply, but it’s worth at least checking on.

    1. Kyrielle*

      ADHD can qualify as a major health condition under FMLA, but I’m not sure if it always does. That might be something for OP to ask about with her child’s doctor.

      Alternating appointments sounds great – it depends on both the other parent’s schedule and communication, though. We found that when we switched (for just 1-2 appointments, I believe) which parent went, continuity of information suffered because the person handling the those appointments was operating off what they’d been told about the previous ones, and didn’t always remember all the details to relay them. That depends on the individual parents whether it will be an issue, of course.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        On that note, here’s a thing my sister finds useful: she has medical notebooks for each kid, so whichever parent takes them to an appointment has all the info from the last appointment. It also helps because my sister (much though I love her) is not naturally the most organized person, and would totally mix up which kid has which issues without them.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      That is certainly one thing I don’t miss about living in a small town. I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition and feel like I’m on Christmas card terms with my specialist. If I still lived in said small town, the 2ish hour drive to get to the nearest city to see a specialist would be killer now that I work full time. I’d definitely have to look into FMLA.

  13. Lady Phoenix*

    It seems that when it comes to paychological problems. There always seems to be a hand waving and dismisses by stupid people.

    Depression = “Sad, mopey, need to get out of the house”

    Anxiety (in women)= “time the month”, hysterical

    Autism = socially awkward, stupid

    ADHD = bratty, energetic, flighty, stupid

    This is why it is beat not to discuss these kinds of things with stupid people. Until we actually get a clue by four that, yes, the brain is an organ too that can get “sick”. Just twll them it is a doctor’s appointment.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yup. Unfortunately this is my experience, too. There is no shortage of people who are firmly committed to their ignorance, and neither I nor anyone else has time to convince them otherwise.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There is no shortage of people who are firmly committed to their ignorance, and neither I nor anyone else has time to convince them otherwise.

        This should be on a pillow. I’m stealing it to deal with an unrelated disagreement.

    2. Fake old Converse shoes*

      Anxiety (in women) = lack of sex
      It’s disgusting just typing it, never mind hearing it.

      1. Julia*

        Weirdly, I was at my most anxious when I started having sex. It also collided with grad school, so maybe it was that, but still.

    3. Snark*

      And just, like, in general? Don’t tell your boss about why you’re going to a doctor’s appointment. Good bosses know it’s not any of their business and trust you. Bad bosses will litigate whether ADHD is a thing with you until you want to throat-punch them. Discussing the whys and wherefores is pertinent to the employment relationship..
      All a boss actually needs to know is, “I need to take sick leave, here’s when I’ll be gone,” and all a boss needs to say is “Sure thing, please make plans so your duties aren’t affected by the absence.”

      1. CMF*

        I had a job once that required a doctor’s note for any call outs and frequently tried to claim they needed to know why we needed vacation time before it could be approved. Like, once I requested a half day because we were going to a Friday wedding, and they acted like they were doing me a huge favor in approving it because it was only 3 weeks notice and we probably got a save the date months before.

        Anyway, that mostly stopped (it was the owner’s son who was my supervisor doing this, I don’t know what other departments were like) when I told them I would be late one morning, two weeks in advance, because I had a doctor’s appointment that had been rescheduled. They told me I needed a doctor’s note, which fine, whatever. I got the note, which simply said, “she was seen at our doctor’s office on this date, please excuse her from work” with the office letterhead. Just a vague note, LIKE THEY ALL ARE.

        I handed it to my supervisor, and he gave me this disdainful smirk. “This doesn’t say why you were at the doctor, why should I accept it?”

        I pointed at the letterhead (health system gynecological associates city location) and said, “I’m not having this discussion with you but I’m sure you can figure it out.” He got very flustered and I emailed our HR department to verify what information was required in an acceptable doctor’s note.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          Ugh, it could have been worse. He could have then demanded you tell him what they did. Uggggghg

          1. CMF*

            Haha, I took a gamble because I knew that stuff made him uncomfortable, but had I not known that before, I probably wouldn’t have gone the snarky “don’t be an asshole” route.

    4. Infinity Anon*

      It’s not limited to psychological problems.

      Endometriosis=normal cramps
      GI issues (inflammatory bowel disease, gallbladder disease, ect.)=poor diet
      Migraines=normal headaches

      I wish people would stop thinking that they determine the validity of others medical problems.

      1. Kyrielle*


        I also love all the people who tell me I should have some (insert fruit or vegetable here), those are good for you.

        Some are good for me. I eat them. Some fruits and vegetables are really not good for me, for specific reasons that my doctor explained to me, and I know (mostly, still need to trial some) which ones I have some tolerance of and which ones I don’t. And telling me that broccoli or corn is good for me is *not true*. It is, in general, good for many people. It is not, in specific, good for me. (And doesn’t that just drive me nuts, because corn is *so tasty*.)

  14. Mike C.*

    As someone with ADHD, this attitude pisses me off so much. Get ready to hear people talk about how “big pharma just wants to drug your child” and how “maybe schools aren’t natural enough for your child” and “maybe if you fed him a healthy diet this wouldn’t be a problem”.

    1. Merci Dee*

      Someone tried to give me that Big Pharma line right after my daughter was diagnosed with inattentive-type ADHD. I looked them right in the eye and said, “Thank God for Big Pharma.” My daughter was in 1st grade when she was diagnosed, and the medicine she was prescribed at the time was just amazing. I could actually sit in one place and have an entire conversation with her. Previously, we’d sit down to talk about something, and that would last all of 15 seconds — in order to finish the conversation, I’d either have to follow her around from place to place or talk loudly enough to be heard at the other end of the house if I just didn’t have the energy to follow her anymore.

    2. What the French, Toast*


      Unfortunately it seems to be de rigueur for people to hand-wring over the supposed “over-diagnosis” of things like ADHD and autism in children. It’s misguided and so unhelpful to people who have these medical needs.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I don’t look at the situation as being that people these days are “over-diagnosed” with ADHD or autism, etc. I look at the situation as being that people in the past were =under= diagnosed with these things, because we didn’t know what they were or how they worked (although, to be fair, we still don’t really know how some of these conditions “work”, from a medical standpoint). This is pretty much the way that every single advancement in medicine and treatment works. Think, for instance, of all the people who died from diabetes before it was first diagnosed in the late 1880s, and then insulin was created in 1922. There’s no way now to tell how many people over time suffered from this disease, but it doesn’t mean that people today are “over-diagnosed” with diabetes just because no one before the 188os had ever been diagnosed with it.

        1. Project Manager*

          Exactly. My son is autistic, and I guaran-damn-tee you if we had known about autism 30 years ago what we know now, I’d have been diagnosed as in the spectrum as well. (Well, maybe – it’s still hard to get girls diagnosed.)

          Note: My mother is in total denial about this and also in near-total denial about my son’s autism, even though he now attends a school for high-functioning autistic children and has had incredible improvement in not even a whole year. Go figure.

      2. blackcat*

        Right, particularly when appropriate resources can be SO HELPFUL.

        (I am also of the mind that many things that are good for people with ADHD in particular are just helpful in general. When I did my special ed training, I started applying the things I learned to my own work/study habits. It was so useful! When I taught, I had a lot of blanket rules like “you can always stand as long as you don’t distract your peers” that were supposed to be accommodations for kids with learning disabilities, but were also just helpful to other students. And by opening up those things to all students, it made the kids with official accommodations feel better about using them. When it’s “Sometimes people need to fidget” vs “Sometimes Timmy needs to fidget,” Timmy is more comfortable, too. There were definitely situations that called for really specific accommodations that would not be helpful to others–what helps a child with dyslexia learn math can be counter-productive for neurotypical kids, for example–but a lot of ADHD coping tools are just good tools in general).

        1. Health Insurance Nerd*

          I have no idea why, but “When I taught, I had a lot of blanket rules like “you can always stand as long as you don’t distract your peers” that were supposed to be accommodations for kids with learning disabilities, but were also just helpful to other students. And by opening up those things to all students, it made the kids with official accommodations feel better about using them. When it’s “Sometimes people need to fidget” vs “Sometimes Timmy needs to fidget,” Timmy is more comfortable, too.” is making me choke up. Such a simple, brilliant approach. Why do more teachers not do this!?

          My son, who is now a senior in high school, has never been diagnosed with a specific learning disability, but has been on an IEP since 2nd grade for essentially information processing and retention issues. Your approach would have been so incredibly helpful for a kid like him, who wasn’t exactly ADD/ADHD, but also didn’t fit into the “normal” kid mold (and don’t even get me started on the whole “normal” classification!), but hated feeling like he was somehow different. The kids in your class were incredibly lucky to have you!

          1. blackcat*

            Aw, thanks. What I have found baffling is that there are some k-5 teachers I’ve known who approach things similarly, but very few secondary teachers who acknowledge that even teens need to fidget (I taught grades 10-12). The benefits of moving around don’t magically cease at puberty.

            I’m in academia now, and when I do teach, it’s generally great big classes in lecture halls. Every time I have to teach students packed into stadium seating like sardines, it breaks my heart a little. I had excellent training before teaching and great support while doing it. When I suggest something to a colleague or student that’s a technique I learned in my licensure program, I always preface it with “Something useful I learned in my teacher licensure program for this is….” Too many folks, particularly in academia, don’t think that teaching requires any specific training.

            Every now and then, I get frustrated and think about returning to k-12 teaching. But I also think is good to fight the good fight from inside university STEM departments.

      3. Infinity Anon*

        Even if it is “over-diagnosed” (which I am NOT saying it is), that does not mean that the persons diagnosis is invalid. Over-diagnosed does not mean it isn’t a disease. It is like when people complain that gluten sensitivity is a fad diet to someone with celiac. It is irrelevant and unhelpful.

      4. Maya Elena*

        The problems of over- and under-diagnosis are not actually mutually exclusive. I can come up with moving anecdotes for both.

    3. blackcat*

      I have known exactly 1 child whose ADHD was successfully treated by diet. You know what that diet involved? A MASSIVE amount of caffeine (aka a drug! a stimulant!). And it was suggested by a doctor after the kiddo had had a hard time with regular meds. I only knew because “let the kid drink coffee in class” was an official accommodation.

      People who are all “diet fixes everything” are full of shit, like LWs boss. A good doc is invaluable.

      1. Jaydee*

        Do to a prescription issue I’ve been off my meds for a couple of weeks. It’s been going a lot better than I thought. Of course I’ve basically been on a steady infusion of coffee and I notice issues when I’m not fully caffeinated. But when I first got diagnosed the coffee wasn’t even cutting it, so it’s an improvement?

        1. ConstitutionallyVerbose*

          Before I got my ADHD meds, I was on a steady diet of one energy drink + one cup of coffee +multiple cups of black tea a day.

          Now I’ve basically switched to decaf, no complaints.

      2. Kyrielle*


        And of course, have those people ever tried to get any kid to eat anything they don’t want to? Let alone an ADHD kid? And the goal is not to make them constantly hungry, because let me know how well that goes for you…everyone has a harder time controlling behavior and staying calm when hungry, it’s just ‘a harder time’ still lets many adults do it. Not so much with a child, and even less so with ADHD or any other impulse or frustration issues. So hopefully that magic diet whoever-it-is wants contains lots of foods the kid likes, because otherwise, even if it *would* work if eaten, you have another problem to surmount first…. (And I don’t think it would in most cases. But again, even if it would, you have to get them to *eat* it.)

    4. M is for Mulder*

      My 40-something spouse didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until his 20s. When he was a child, his grandpop used to whack him upside the head to make him sit still. I guess we should go back to that, because Big Pharma is bad? /s

      1. Detached Elemental*

        My mother thinks ADHD can be “fixed” by getting kids to go for a run around the schoolyard to burn off their energy.

        My husband, who had ADHD, says there isn’t a schoolyard in the world that would be big enough for him.

        My Mum used to be a teacher, so sometimes I wonder what she was like with her students…

        1. Kyrielle*

          And honestly, I suspect there are some kids who are restless in classrooms but not actually ADHD who would benefit from that run around the schoolyard, as we *do* have a very sedentary school system these days, and it’s not designed ideally for neurotypical kids either.

          But a child with ADHD needs more than a run around the schoolyard. (And heck, what about the inattentive type, where what you have is a spacey daydreamer? Promise you I wouldn’t have been less day-dreamy after a run around. Grouchier, sweatier, but not less day-dreamy.)

    5. AKchic*

      I tell people all the time: “Better living through chemistry”.

      Without “Big Pharma” I wouldn’t function. I’d be dead. So thank the gods for Big Pharma.

      1. Purplesaurus*

        I’m always tempted to suggest these kinds of people should abandon their insulin, blood pressure meds, oral inhalers, or anything else keeping them alive. But then I don’t want to them to actually die, so….

    1. Shadow*

      The beauty of FMLA is that if you have an hr department your boss should only be told you are approved for intermittent leave to care for a serious health condition of a family member

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I second this. I’ve used intermittent FMLA for the last three years for a developmental issue for my son and thank heavens I had it.

  15. Snark*

    You know, it never fails to amaze that in situations where I and most of the rest of unimpaired humanity would hear about a personal, family-related, health-related thing and say something like “Oh, I hope your son can get the help he needs, just let me know how this will accept your schedule”…..some people, for some reason, think “Oho, I have Strong Feelings about the Thing and need to share them with you.”

    My son has a little droop to his eyelid. Nothing too serious, nothing that occludes his vision. And yet, a friend of my mother’s, a semiretired business owner with absolutely no ophthalmological or therapeutic background, talked at me for five minutes about how I really needed to get him surgery to fix it. And my reply was, “I’m pretty happy with the medical advice we’ve gotten and the decisions we’re making.” And he continued to press it. And I finally had to say, “Fergus, I don’t want to discuss this with you and I don’t want to hear your opinion on the medical care my son gets. Drop it.”

    I’m going to disagree with Alison in that I don’t think this should be softened. At all. “Boss, I understand that you mean well, but this is not a topic I want to discuss with you moving forward. I’ll let you know when I need to take sick leave for follow-on appointments with plenty of notice.”

    1. Lynne879*

      I think your response also works fairly well. Sometimes people just don’t get it unless you’re firm with them.

  16. Working Mom*

    You handled it perfectly when you said “Respectfully, your husband has never met my son. I have spent seven years with him and I believe I know best.” Do not listen to your boss, your relatives, your friends when it comes to something so misunderstood as ADHD is. When I suspected my daughter had ADHD, one of my very good friends told me to “stop trying something wrong” with her. My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, and I started her on meds. Her grades went from a B/C average, to a A average. YOU know your son better than these other people do. Trust your gut!

    1. Snark*

      I agree with everything but that last. Trusting their gut is what gets people so twisted around the axle about ADHD and other mental health issues. The gut knows jack. The gut is susceptible to social pressure and unexamined bias and junk health stories on Facebook. Trust your medical professionals, your educated judgment, and sources that are vetted, respected, and peer reviewed.

        1. Snark*

          It’s accurate in some arenas, like interpersonal relationships and subjective situations, or assessing some forms of immediate risk. It’s not accurate with topics that are counterintuitive, complex, and technical, which require mastery of explicit knowledge, or which require you to trust institutions over people. That same deep feeling of “that can’t be right” motivates the “he’s just a normal boy, feed him a keto diet” response, not to mention a lot of reflexive, unreasoning distrust of, say, global warming and vaccines.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But the OP wouldn’t even be getting the kid evaluated if not for her gut feeling that something is wrong. The gut is working here.

            1. Snark*

              Maybe “trust but verify,” then. Or “know when your gut has good input and when it should just stick to digesting food and producing impolite noises.” :D

            2. Jessica*

              But the intrusive manager is also “trusting her gut” by passing along her husband’s unsolicited advice.

              Bottom line is that “gut” is not more reliable than actual expertise.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                I have faith in a mother’s “gut” telling her something is going on with her child. I have a lot less faith in the “gut” of someone who doesn’t even know that child being quite sure that the mother is wrong.

            3. SarahTheEntwife*

              It’s not always a gut feeling. Sometimes it’s “Timmy has observable problems with X and Y that seem similar to other kids I know with ADD”. Not everything requires intuition.

          2. TootsNYC*

            Or–maybe it’s important to remember that the instinct points out the problem.

            It doesn’t point out the solution.

  17. Murphy*

    I have an infant, so I haven’t been a parent that long, but parenting is a thing where people can be so judgey about other people’s choices, and are for some reason extremely vocal about it. If they’re not a parent themselves, everyone was a child once, so they’ll have opinions based on their own upbringing that they somehow think that you need to hear about.

        1. Snark*

          Nnnnnnope. I was sitting in the park just the other day having a picnic with my kid, and a woman walking past looked at his chicken nuggets, nailed me with a glare, and said “Real healthy lunch, there, dad.”

          1. Merci Dee*

            I really hope your kid then nailed =her= with one of his chicken nuggets. I won’t lie, my daughter would’ve totally gotten a high-five for that.

          2. paul*

            Coping hint: try to out awkward them.

            If they harp on diet choices like that, tell them the kids terminal and long term health isnt’ a concern.

            If they harp on you buying formula tell them your wife died and you ain’t lactating (I’ve actually done that–it was my life’s greatest moment and I regret I didn’t get a photograph of the busybody’s face).

            I quit being nice about this stuff by the time my oldest was 2.

              1. paul*

                I could never have done stuff like that before kids; they suck up all the F’s I have to give, leaving me so few to spare.

                And I basically spend a short second and try to think what would make me feel the worst in their shoes and then say it.

            1. AKchic*

              It’s even better if you’re a hammy ren fair actor. I promise.

              Example: after my 4th (and last) kid, an old biddy in the store decided it was a great idea to berate me for having “so many mouths to feed”. I dropped to my knees and wailed “but the aliens won’t leave me alone!”
              Never saw an old lady scoot so fast away from me in a check-out line!

            2. LavaLamp*

              I did something similar. Had a guy on a dating website tell me he wanted me to have his children. My response was a deadpan ‘i can’t have kids’. Never got that many apologies before or since.

              In fact, why was this manager’s husband basically telling the OP to spank her kid more? That is not going to fix a health problem. I don’t even have kids, and that really steams me.

          3. Health Insurance Nerd*

            You are a way better person than I, because I’m fairly certain I would have told her to F off and then thrown a nugget at her dumb head.

            Chicken nuggets are glorious.

          4. Falling Diphthong*

            Guinevere: “It’s awful that the other preschool moms invited me to lunch at McDonalds*, and I have to say no, because young Godfrey has a sophisticated palate and won’t eat that stuff.”
            Young Godfrey, in the back of my car 3 months later: “Look! Look! It’s McDonalds! They’re great!”

            *Because it’s winter and they have the only nearby indoor playspace.

          5. M is for Mulder*

            This is the kind of situation in which I hope that the multiverse theory is correct, so I can tell myself that all possible snark-tastic comebacks were delivered.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      Some of the most perfect parents I’ve ever met were people who never had kids. They had all the answers on how their imaginary children would behave. None of their advice ever worked on my real life kids…you know actual humans with ideas, thoughts, and feelings that are totally their own. Next in line were the people whose children were now fully grown and like to say “when my kids were that age they never…” It’s then that my mouth would hurt from the tongue biting because I’d be holding back all the comments like “weren’t you just telling me that your son called you a b***h because you wouldn’t pay his mortgage this month?”

      I try so hard not to be judgemental. Not my kid, not my parenting decision. My kids have so many friends and I’m going to be honest not one of them is parented alike. We all make decisions for our kids based on what works for us as parents, for the kids, and the environment we are in.

      1. LizB*

        People say often that everyone should have to work retail or food service sometime in their life to develop empathy for workers in those industries. I sometimes think that, in addition, everyone should have to spend enough time with kids sometime in their life to understand that they are actual people with minds of their own, not trainable robots who will act perfectly if only the right sequence of buttons is pushed. Everyone who is parenting or working with a kid is just doing their best, and the kid is doing their best, and there will always be challenges. “You just need to…” is one of those sentence starters that should never be finished when talking about sentient beings, because there’s no “just” about it. There are no simple universal answers.

      2. Detached Elemental*

        Before I had kids I used to silently criticise every parent I saw on the street. I thought they were doing such a terrible job, and couldn’t understand why they couldn’t stop their kids crying, misbehaving, etc,etc.

        Then I became a parent, and it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life…

        1. Biff*

          I”m at the age in life in which my friends have kids with a nice spread of ages among them. Here’s what I’ve learned:

          — well behaved is relative to the goals of the family.
          — what works with Corey won’t work with Kevin.
          — If you add in pets, all hell breaks loose.
          — A great trait at 3 doesn’t always look like one. But trust me, the stubborn 3 year old with suspicions about EVERYTHING will be the 16 year old who turns down drugs. And that’s good.
          — Your reaction matters a lot. You loose it? They loose it waaaay harder.
          — Having a death grip on your kids will make for nightmare teenagers. Their job, after about 12, is to start becoming an adult. If you give them no room to do so you are failing them, not the other way around.
          — Children come with personalities. Respect that.
          — growing up comes with failures. It’s important to learn what you hate, what you can tolerate and what you love.
          — Children deserve boundaries. Let them set some. You can always explain why a boundary doesn’t work as intended.
          — Smarter kids are trouble. Just are. Fun trouble, but trouble.
          — Playtime is vital.

          Here’s what I haven’t learned:

          — how to get perfectly well behaved, well adjusted children with fluid presentations who rise to the occasion each and every time. I’ve met some kids who will BECOME that because it’s some sort of ingrained natural talent, but it doesn’t appear at two years old.

      3. Rana*

        I have a friend who came up with the brilliant response to think to yourself (or remark to a sympatico friend) upon seeing parenting that you… have questions about.

        “I’m feeling validated in my parenting choices.”

    2. Rana*

      I have to admit that this is one thing that I really love about being an older mother. Being in my 40s, I have few-to-no fucks to give about what random people think of me, my parenting, or my child. This means that my favorite go-to when people busybody me is a cheery “Yep!” It totally lets the wind out of their sails. The idea that you not only are fully aware of the “problem” they’re calling to your attention, but that you’re happy about it, is something 99% of them simply can’t process. It’s hilarious as well as effective.

  18. with a twist*

    My feelings on your boss are pretty much the same as everyone else here, but I just wanted to add my well-wishes to you. I went through something similar about a year ago with my daughter, and although I wanted to discuss it with one or two people at work (I also have had to break the habit of over-explaining my time-off requests), I kept it to myself for fear of finding myself in the exact scenario you’re now in. I understand that impulse though, and I’m sorry you now have to deal with a nosy boss on top of an already stressful situation. Good luck to you – you’re doing the right thing by seeking out qualified help, even if it means taking a bit of a road trip for your doctor’s visits.

  19. AnnaBananaCanada*

    We struggle with this type of misunderstanding of what ADHD is and how it is different for every single person. Our 9yr old daughter has it but has never been really “naughty” and hasn’t acted out in the way a lot of people assume that ADHD kids do. She isn’t hyperactive in the exact definition of the word but fits everything else. It’s easy for so many people to play armchair diagnosticians.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yeah, the inattentive subtype can be much harder to diagnose; I’m glad your daughter is getting the help she needs! Mine got misdiagnosed as depression (which, to complicate things, I almost certainly do also have) for ages because who would think something with “hyperactivity” in the name could present primarily as *fatigue*?? But yes, my brain basically exhausts itself trying to pay attention to All The Things.

    2. JulieBulie*

      I have “inattentive” ADHD, and although few people would describe me as hyperactive, I actually am – mentally. Not physically. I can sit quietly in a meeting, but my mind might be going a mile a minute – often in circles.

  20. CatCat*

    Oh, that’s just infuriating. I get the need to soften “mind your own business” if the opinions start again.

    I wonder if a pointed, awkward silence followed by a change of subject would be okay.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Thanks for your concern.”

      “I’ll take that under consideration.”

      “Well, that’s interesting.”

      Followed by silence or a change of subject.

      1. voleuseCK*

        I’m fond of Mallory Ortberg’s standard response over at Dear Prudie: “What a strange thing to say!”

  21. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    Oh OP, I feel your pain! My son has been going through very similar issues over the last few years and we’ve been working hard to get him the care he needs. I’ve fielded so many questions from many well meaning (and sometimes not so well meaning) friend, family, and co-workers who think that they know better than my husband and I or the team of professionals we have working hard to help our son. Allison is spot on with the advice about being vague with details. I’ve learned that vague really is the best way to handle these things. I tend to keep things light and breezy. I’ve taken A LOT of time off in the last year to address his needs – usually emergency calls in the middle of the day from the school that aren’t easy to plan for – so my response when people ask me “he’s still having issues, huh?” is “Both of my kids keep me on my toes!” or “well it’s the job I signed up for” and then I walk away. I don’t stay and engage in advice or opinions because then it becomes a frustrating contest of who knows more about my kid and his issues and it doesn’t matter that I am the reigning champion on that, there’s always someone willing to take me on and tell me how wrong I am.

    Good Luck with your son!

  22. nnn*

    I think the “I appreciate you thinking of us” kind of softening language should be used very sparingly (in life in general, not limited to this LW).

    It might lead tone-deaf people to think their input is genuinely appreciated and continue meddling where they are unwanted.

  23. Venus Supreme*

    wwwwwwwwhy does this woman’s husband’s $0.02 have anything to do with OP and taking care of her son? He’s not his doctor… I can’t believe people still amaze me.

    1. k8*

      ikr? It is so unbelievable to me that she literally thought to herself “you know what? this advice is so valuable and insightful that I just HAVE to share!” Like, what???

  24. GG*

    Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can cause a person to suffer unnecessarily throughout their childhood and adolescence, and can also cause a multitude of other deeply painful and challenging psychological issues. Source: diagnosed at 16 after ten full years of suffering, thinking I was stupid, spacey, incapable of thinking, listening, talking, testing, thinking I was worthless because I couldn’t be on time or be prepared, couldn’t stop losing things, hated myself for not being able to complete anything, forgetting my words mid-sentence, constantly getting in trouble for not paying attention or forgetting things, constantly dealing with exasperated adults who didn’t mean to hurt me but said to me on a daily basis, “MY GOD, you forgot your homework AGAIN? you lost your key AGAIN? you were wasting time and now you are making me late AGAIN! you forgot your lunch AGAIN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!”

    I thought my brain was defective and wanted to kill myself as early as 4th grade, because I thought I wasn’t a good enough person to function like everyone else.

    Good for you for being a proactive parent and taking your son’s issues seriously. My parents would have too, I’m sure, had anyone known anything about ADHD back in the early 1980s.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I’m 43 and was just diagnosed with ADHD. My MD said that a lot of the anxiety, anger and frustration I’d experienced since childhood were a direct result of my DX. I remember my mom telling me that I was being stupid or ridiculous for feeling this way as a kid. You bet your sweet bippy that I let her know that no, I wasn’t being obstinate and difficult on purpose as a child, there was a freakin’ medical reason for it that she let go undiagnosed for my entire childhood. I’m now on a track to get this under control.

      1. Jennifer Thneed, very much not anon on this issue*

        I’m 55, and I got my diagnosis roughly 10 years ago, right when it started getting known that adults could have the issue (ie: you don’t grow out of it, although you might learn coping skills).

        I spent a lot of time wondering why I was being so self-destructive. There weren’t many books out then, but one was “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!” and that title spoke worlds to me. Because I knew I wasn’t stupid, so I must have been one of the other two?

        Ritalin is a fricken’ life-saver. (I tried a bunch of different meds, and the best one for me is the grand-daddy of them all.)

    2. JessaB*

      I was a lucky child. Being female that stuff is way underdiagnosed and I was on ritalin in elementary school in the 1960s (I was born in 61.) So there were diagnoses before the 80s it was just harder and I was lucky that I had a parent with issues who was seeing a Psych so she wasn’t upset about taking me in to see what the heck was wrong with me. Did the treatment work? Somewhat. Mostly because they probably missed autism spectrum behaviours that were mixed in with the hyperactivity (which is what we called it back then. I don’t think I heard the terms ADD or ADHD back when I was little.)

      Also we had recess and music class and assembly and gym class so kids were allowed a lot more moving around in the day than just “must sit at desk, must not fidget or move. Must answer questions like this, etc.” So it was easier I think physically than it is now.

      They’re just starting to understand that ALL children need to move for proper physical development. Those with diagnoses or NOT. That sitting still like a proper student thing is terrible for neurological development and body strength. A lot of classes are now letting kids both diagnosed and not use rocker pads on their seats so they don’t have to sit so still. New theory is that the whole sit still thing is a awful for child development.

      And that a lot of kids on the borderline of diagnosis and no diagnosis would be served by just not making them conform to sit in chair, feet on ground, upright and proper.

      1. blackcat*

        “New theory is that the whole sit still thing is a awful for child development.”

        So far as I can tell, it is just awful for the vast majority *people.* Humans were not meant to sit still.

          1. Jaydee*

            Humans were not meant to sit still for arbitrarily determined periods of time when doing so is neither comfortable nor necessary. Thus Netflix binging and allowing kids to move more during school are not mutually exclusive.

      2. Misc*

        “which is what we called it back then. I don’t think I heard the terms ADD or ADHD back when I was little.”

        So fun fact I learnt last week. “ADHD” was officially added to the dictionary as the latest official terminology the year I was born in 1987. So now I get to say that I am one of the first true ADHDers, the literal incarnation, they had to add the word because I got born ;D

    3. Empress of Blandings*

      Goodness yes. My son has been diagnosed with ADHD recently. When I’ve had every teacher, child-care professional, and club leader who’s looked after him saying he can’t concentrate properly, I’m going to assume that something needs addressing. I’m hoping that now we can get help that will stop him having the same difficulties I’ve encountered through my life (I haven’t had a diagnosis, but I have my suspicions about myself).

      Also, well done for standing up for your son and his treatment. Although in the UK (where I am) starting with ‘with respect’ or ‘respectfully’ pretty much means the opposite, so, pretty accurate with you as well, I guess!

    4. Emily*

      Oh man, same here all the way.

      I’m still dealing with the emotional repercussions of these experiences here at age 36.

  25. The Snark Knight*

    As someone who has dealt with disabilities all my life, when it comes to dealing with anyone other than close personal friends, less is more.

    This is not to fault the OP or go counter to Alison’s advice at all but rather to relate my personal experience. My opinion of the manager is a bet less harsh. When people find out that you or a family member has a disability, they try to help and often do a very poor job of it.

    It can be the well-intentioned advice to someone with depression to “just get through it” or the various advice I’ve had over the years, it’s often not coming from a bad place. Assume good intentions but learn from your interactions.

    Revealing more than necessary in the workplace will ALWAYS open the door for comment. Better to say less and avoid problems

    1. SystemsLady*

      You can assume good intentions while also pointing out to the unwanted advice giver that their advice is bad or even offensive.

      1. LavaLamp*

        This. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that eating this great new diet would cure my chronic condition I’d be a bloody millionaire.

    1. JessaB*

      Wait I thought that was already a thing (see Autism Speaks for instance.) I thought we already had that. It’s not already a word?

  26. TootsNYC*

    I think so many of us make the mistake of sharing details when we shouldn’t.

    I know I do.

    I really admire people who can say–as my direct report did recently–“Something has come up, and I need to take a personal day during the deadline.”

    I didn’t need details.

    Because, he is conscientious in everything he does. When there’s a late project, he will check to be sure whether he’s needed.
    All the work ethic he shows at other times means that I trust this was something he really couldn’t have moved to a different day. And when he asked for that time off, he said, “I know it’s really bad timing, but hopefully since it’s only one day, and these people can fill in, it will be OK.” That’s enough.

    But even if it were medical tests, it would be really smart for us all to just say, “medical.” And, “nothing dangerous, just something we need to take care of.”

    We should all be more like him.

    1. JessaB*

      I think that between years at school from 3 or 4 to as high as 25 or more, and a history of prior bad bosses (there are a lot of them in this regard,) or bad companies, people are kind of conditioned to believe they have to fully justify any calling off ill with actual details to prove they are actually, realio, trulio, ill.

      It’s from being required to have notes in school all your life, and then having companies with “3 days have a note,” must justify stuff, be so prevalent. It’s also harped on a lot in popular culture. So even in places where you really don’t need to people think they have to.

    2. My Cat Posted This For Me*

      Just recently my coworker told our supervisor that she needed to take her young son to a therapy session for increasing anxiety issues. Supervisor asked, “Are you sure that’s a good use of your time?” My coworker isn’t the most assertive person but she looked so floored that Supervisor backpedaled a bit. I told my coworker to stop giving details.

      As the more assertive person in the office, I’m just waiting for her to try something like that with me. :)

  27. LW*

    Letter writer here. Thank you, Alison, for your advice. I think you are right, and she is just an overbearing personality. After our initial exchange, she came back the NEXT day and informed me that she had googled ADHD and had good news for me–kids with ADHD often grow out of it by adulthood. I was flabbergasted. Did she really expect to uncover something with an evening of Google that I had not managed to read in the years and years of fretting about this myself? Anyhow, I think your advice is spot on, and I will definitely not be sharing any more details with her in the future. I chalk this whole thing up to an important lesson for me about the importance of boundaries in the workplace.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Oh geez. I said this up thread but I’m going to expand on it here, in a very neutral tone tell her: “Oh, since this is my son’s private medical information I’m not discussing it with anyone other than his doctors.” If she keeps pushing/bring it up “Oh, I must has been unclear last time. This is a private medical matter so it’s only appropriate for me to discuss it with my son’s doctors.” Then, “I’m confused, I feel I’ve been very clear that I will not discuss my son’s private medical information. Why do you keep bring it up?”

      Tone is key to this. Good luck!

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree with this, from MuseumChick:

        “Oh, since this is my son’s private medical information I’m not discussing it with anyone other than his doctors.”

        I might say you could add, “I realized I shouldn’t have shared as much as I did.” Maybe even, “It’s not fair to him, I’ve realized.”

        I used to talk about my kids all the time w/ friends, colleagues, etc. Often I was talking about how I, as their parent, was responding, was impacted, was worrying, etc.

        But as they got older, I’ve realized, it’s not MY information. Not at its core. Sure, I may be worried, but the core info is theirs.

        It’s a tough transition to make, but it’s good to get started early.

    2. GG*

      Tell her that you talked to some people on the internet who can confirm that that’s ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE AT ALL. I’m 40 and ADHD affects me and my work and my personal life every single day of my life.

      I think your boss is a nut!

      1. LW*

        Letter Writer here again. Oh, how I know that it’s not true about the “growing out of it”. My husband (my son’s dad) has ADHD (diagnosed as a child, but his mom decided to treat it by cutting out sugar and putting kelp in his thermos, but that’s another story). It affects him and our family every day.

              1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                I shouldn’t have laughed. I did. I shouldn’t have laughed while drinking a chocolate shake. I did. It’s your fault that I snorted shake all over my desk. ;)

        1. SystemsLady*

          It is true that boys’ symptoms sometimes improve after adolescence (it’s a hormonal thing – for girls symptoms can get worse), but you’re right that it’s very far from universal or enough of an improvement most of the time.

          …wow, I’m sorry your husband had to go through that.

    3. Nea*

      For what it’s worth, some people will twist anything you say, no matter how casual or none of their business, into a club to hit you with. Medicine or kids — particularly medicine and kids together — seem to bring out the worst, but I used to work with someone who turned “what did you do this weekend?” into lectures about when I saw movies and how much bed linen I owned. If someone’s bound and determined to pick at you, the only way to deal with them is to give them absolutely no information at all.

      Your original response was perfect, but as you can see, she’s still considering it an opening. “I have an appointment at x time” and “Fine” are all she ever needs to hear about your personal life.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. It goes along with how some people are so insecure they see everything you say as an opportunity to brag about how much better they are.

    4. SystemsLady*

      I seriously hope she wasn’t implying that means you shouldn’t treat it, or that treatment is should be something you’re scared of.

      Ugh. You’re making the right choice, that’s for sure.

      1. boop the first*

        Hehehehe, well she already implied that OP should treat her son by spanking the ADHD out of him!

    5. Anonymous Engineer*

      “I’m happy with all the advice and information I’m getting from my son’s doctors. Thanks.” And walk away. Or turn back to your computer screen. Or otherwise shut this kind of crud down.

    6. paul*

      People that think Google replaces medical school (or vet school) are a special breed of annoying. Good luck dealing with your manager. Wishing you and your kiddo well.

      1. nonegiven*

        I used Alta Vista and got my vet online in the 90s. I printed out an article I found online. He said I saved my cat’s life.

    7. Lady Phoenix*

      i need to remember that AaM does not advocate for wanton violence nor paragraph-long profanity laden rants.

      I will scream into a pillow at this woman’s stupidity.

    8. AKchic*

      “Thank you for your concern, but I prefer medical advice from licensed doctors from reputable universities, not Google U. My husband and I have decided, with all of the unsolicited advice from all walks of life that have decided to weigh in on our son, that we will no longer entertain ANY unqualified opinions from anyone and we are no longer discussing our son’s medical information with anyone other than HIS care team. Thank you for your understanding.”

      Good luck. Three of my boys have been diagnosed ADHD. My oldest outright refuses medication. He’d rather smoke pot than “be controlled by medication”. *eyeroll* Of course, some idiot dealer put that idea into his head. The lack of services in my remote state limit me, and his age make it impossible for me to do anything other than watch his descent into addiction.
      One manages his without medication pretty well, but will need a low-dose med now that he’s hit high school and realizes that his inattentive behaviors can no longer be managed well.
      The third is happy to be on his meds.

      The youngest has ADHD behaviors, but he’s borderline and manageable, so we have all agreed medication intervention isn’t necessary. .

      1. Torrance*

        It could have been an idiot dealer– or he could have read about in medical journals, where early research shows that cannabis can be an effective and tolerable method of treatment.

    9. strawberries and raspberries*

      UGH! If she keeps at you about it, I know I would be tempted to be like, “Don’t you have a house renovation or something else in your own life that you can fixate on?”

      1. Althea*

        Absolutely. When my daughter was in the process of being diagnosed with a heart condition, her cardiologist told us specifically to stay off of Google. She said it would also sound incredibly scary, was wildly inaccurate, and the little that used to be accurate was years out of date.

        The first thing my parents sent me when I described her symptoms was some googled descriptions of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is about the scariest heart condition a kiddo could have. And which my daughter did not have. But NEVER MIND you should definitely read the scariest possible outcome despite the fact that the expert scientist hasn’t diagnosed her yet…

    10. a different Vicki*

      Even if that bit of google result is true, the response would be “Yes, and?” If someone has ADHD when he’s seven, and “grows out of it” by the time he’s 20, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have it when he was seven. It really doesn’t mean that he should go untreated for the next dozen years because he might stop needing the help.

    11. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Hi LW, I just wanted to say hurray for you for getting your son assessed and for being ready to treat and support him! I teach grade 7 and every year I have at least one awkward parent meeting where I explain that I’m seeing concerning issues around focus and impulsivity and the parent is a lot more like your boss in their reaction. I swear, I don’t work with Big Pharma and I’m not trying to get them to drug their child into submission, but it breaks my heart to see these kids struggle so much and their parent tell me “Well, they’re just lazy”.

    12. Misc*

      Ha, another adult diagnosee here and I practically grew INTO it. Getting diagnosed as a kid would have literally changed my life even if I never got treatment. And these days I tend to feel quite violent about all the idiotic things people say about ADHD.

      (My parents were very anti diagnosis/medication so insisted there was nothing wrong with me, why was I trying to find something wrong with me, while *simultaneously* admitting I was weird. My dad point blank argued to my face when I was trying to get diagnosed as a full grown adult well past anything that might be considered ‘teenage’ that ‘most people can just learn to hide this stuff by the time they reach adulthood’ and somehow did not understand why this was not a convincing argument that I did not have ADHD and should not get treatment for it.

      …the good news is that after a year on medication, my parents now admit it made a massive improvement and tentatively support it in a ‘drugs are evil but I guess it helps and don’t make us talk about it’ way. Medication DOES help, so much).

  28. Alton*

    Your boss is being intrusive and is massively overstepping.

    I think it’s often better not to give details about why you’re taking time off. This is an example of why.

    You mention not wanting to look like someone who takes time off for frivolous reasons, and I get that concern because someone like your boss could feel that way. But please don’t internalize that and think that it’s your responsibility/fault. There are some managers who decide, based on their own biases, that legitimate uses of leave are frivolous. It’s good to be cautious about how you deal with them, but they’re the unreasonable ones.

  29. Sadsack*

    I think your response in the moment was perfect. And there’s no such thing as a frivolous reason for using your time off. It’s for you to use as you see fit.

  30. jmm*

    Solidarity, OP. My 6YO son was diagnosed with ADHD combined type when he turned 5. As a family we have good days and rough days. Thankfully, I work in public education, and my boss is a former principal, so she is extremely understanding about the need to take him for check-ups every few months, go to meetings at his school, etc.
    Your boss sounds completely clueless. Unfortunately, it seems like half the people in the world are clueless or just plain wrong about ADHD, so she’s in good (awful) company.
    Best wishes to you and your son!!! Here’s hoping that the specialist is able make a diagnosis and help y’all along the way!

  31. OldJules*

    OP – As a parent with the same challenges with my daughter, I sympathise. People don’t always understand that it’s a real problem. Not just a kid being a kid. I share stories with people who can commiserate but if I get back ‘It’s just a kid being a kid,’ I no longer share. I agree with AAM, it’s more of a personal comment than anything work impacting. But some people thinks that this is a new age thing, and a little discipline will straighten the kid out. No, it’s really not. Being gifted =/= perfect student/child. If you are looking for support, there are groups online that supports parents with 2E (Twice Exceptional) children. SENG is also a great resource.

  32. KnittyInABrowncoat*

    This kind of thing drives me bananas, between a son with ASD and a husband with a heart condition and diabetes I’ve honed my ability to shut down this kind of behavior. But damn if I didn’t almost burst into tears with all the “helpful” advice I was given right after hubby’s heart attack. The one friend who just too me aside and said she wanted to cook us a meal since clearly we had a lot going on and to just tell her what our dietary needs were was and still is one of my favorite people.
    I feel your pain LW. You’re on the right track and your response was perfect.

  33. McWhadden*

    Is the boss’s husband recommending that she should just spank her son? Side stepping the whole spanking debate because it’s irrelevant never tell people how to discipline their child (unless there is an actually abusive situation going on, of course)! Or even subtly suggest how to do so. So rude.

    Definitely just treat this as a busybody to ignore.

    Also is the whole sick time can only be used for a day thing common? That seems incredibly inefficient.

  34. A Teacher*

    My daughter is 7 and currently my foster (adopted on 10/20/17 :)) but anyway, we had to battle the school, CPS, and her GP telling me it was just the trauma of being a foster kid. Of course, the trauma has contributed but I finally said live with it for a month and tell me I’m making it up. I’m a teacher, I see ADHD every day. I’m well versed in how kids that are receiving treatment for it vs. not respond. The GP refused to diagnose it because of age so we had to get into a psychiatrist to get the official diagnosis and that took 4 extra months. My employer was pretty understanding but they couldn’t get why I needed to take a half day to “drive 1.5 hours to see the only psychiatrist that takes her medical card when there’s a teaching hospital in town.” I didn’t overshare just said out for kid’s medical appointment, they heard through the grapevine of me talking to a work friend. A few coworkers were like, “just manage the symptoms” we did and do but now that she’s on medication and with a lot of very specific rules, she’s doing much better. I had to (nicely) tell a bunch of people to back off and still do. Until you’ve parented my kid with her needs, (applies to any kid) then you don’t know her issues. Adding in a plethora of foster care placements to the mix makes it a bit more of a challenge.

    1. Competent Commenter*

      Great work on managing all those hurdles, Teacher! As a foster parent myself, I have been through most of those and I know how much persistence it takes. Took us nine months from the day I started trying to get an appointment with a psychiatrist until the day I took my son to his first appointment. Same thing here with the PTSD versus ADHD diagnosis—we’ve all been waiting for his trauma symptoms to die down and reveal the functional person inside, and the trauma symptoms have died down a lot but the functionality is still minimal. Our son is now a young adult and doesn’t present in a hyperactive way, but was diagnosed a year ago with inattentive type ADHD, among other things. He will be trying ADHD meds soon. I hope this will be the thing that helps him click into functionality. We have despaired for him. I wish you and your new daughter all the best!

  35. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    Attitudes like this are why my husband doesn’t believe in ADD even though he has it! He went to a therapist to deal with his symptoms that are all classic ADD, but he doesn’t see it that way. Luckily, he still takes his meds (“These meds would help anyone! They just work better on some people than others.”) and goes to ADD group therapy every week (“I like therapy and I like the woman who leads group. She has some really good strategies for dealing with my workload.”). I’ve learned that I’m not going to convince him otherwise. As long as he continues his treatment, I’m happy.

    1. Competent Commenter*

      Given that he takes the meds and attends the group, which most people wouldn’t do if they didn’t believe in ADD, it sounds like this is just what he needs to tell himself. Seems like this is a better situation than that of my friend, whose husband agrees he has ADHD but doesn’t sufficiently manage it. :)

    2. Snark*

      “These meds would help anyone! They just work better on some people than others.”

      “Liiiiiike some people who have ADHD?”

      ““I like therapy and I like the woman who leads group. She has some really good strategies for dealing with my workload.”

      “Liiiiiiiiike because you have ADHD?”

  36. J.B.*

    To OP: Not that you want advice specifically, but good on you for looking into this. 2e can be a real challenge, and the diagnosis may be a variety of things. The other phrase that comes up from busybodies is “don’t label your kid”…but personally I have found the label to be quite valuable and it guided clinicians on the best way to work with my child. And the school which has made life infinitely better.

    I hope you get the resources you want, the right clinician is a very personal thing. Drugs can be a good tool, there are also a couple of different kinds of therapy that might help. The right combination of tools for your kid may take a while to figure out, but the most important thing is for you to be in his/her corner. And once you start finding things that work your child’s stress level should go down. Which makes everyone’s life better.

    1. Competent Commenter*

      Yeah, the labeling thing. I have spoken to a few people who felt that a label was a legitimate hindrance for their child, and I guess I can imagine some scenarios for that. Maybe if your kid gets a “label” that somehow allows everyone to write them off? Although that seems like bad parenting/teaching/counseling, etc., not a bad label.

      For me, label means diagnosis. How can you treat, manage or improve something you haven’t identified? It’s like saying, “My kid has always had leg pain and can’t run like the other kids but I don’t want her to be labeled so I’m not looking into it.” I’m a fan of finding out what causes the pain and dealing with the broken bone, or the leg that’s shorter than the other, or the shoes that don’t fit, or whatever. I mean, we don’t say that about allergies, diabetes, cancer, etc., right?

      1. JulieBulie*

        Yes! Thanks to my lack of a “label” I went through school feeling as though I had one hand tied behind my back. A “label” would have changed my life for the better.

  37. I'm Not Lazy*

    So, I didn’t even realize that inattentive ADHD was a thing. I’m always forgetting and misplacing things, never finish what I start, am constantly late, and all throughout school was in the gifted program but got terrible grades because I could just never get myself to turn in homework. Even now in my career, I’ll have at to-do list but am awful at actually getting anything done.

    I’ve gone through most of my life being called lazy and not knowing why I couldn’t just change, but I just looked up the symptoms of inattentive ADHD. I think I’m going to make myself an appointment to talk to a professional. This could be nothing, but I think it might be worth looking into.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I decided to get tested after a co-worker gave a speech in our company Toastmasters group. She was talking about her struggles with undiagnosed ADHD. I had a conversation with her about it and she was telling me that a lot of people go undiagnosed for years (mainly women) and it’s usually when they’re older with a lot more responsibilities and that feeling of floundering that they seek out help. I went home and had a conversation with my husband (who works in mental health) and he said “I thought you knew you had ADHD already!” Uh…no! I started the appointment processes and just got my official DX.

      1. RA Patient*

        I kind of had a similar experience. I am good friends with a pediatrician and one time she just commented about my ADHD and I thought she was joking but then I asked her and she said, I thought you knew. I didn’t

    2. Competent Commenter*

      “I’m Not Lazy,” you might try listening to the ADHD Experts Podcast for more insight into ADHD. Episode #114 (about the ways ADHD is misdiagnosed or mistreated) and #180 (on how to diagnose) are super helpful introductions to symptoms. I was diagnosed in my late 40s and it’s been a life-changer for me.

    3. JulieBulie*

      Good luck. I was diagnosed at age 40, and the treatment really helped.

      Even if you don’t get the specific dx, a professional can point you to some resources (coping strategies, support groups, etc) to help you.

    4. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

      Sounds just like! I’ve always forgetting… whatever it was I was talking about, and I never finish anything I s

  38. Jules^2*

    I barely made it through reading this without wanting to punch your boss. I completely agree with Alison’s advice here. Do not give reasons for appointments any longer. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 6. We were having an awful time at home and the same challenges spilled over at school so we knew something was up. Some days are very hard so hang in there. I hope you get the help you need with whatever his diagnosis might be. Good luck!

  39. Lieutenant Obvious*

    I think the Obvious think to do is calmly and politely tell your boss that when she completes medical school, does her stint as a resident, and passes your states medical boards you would be glad to sit down with her and discuss it.

  40. Temperance*

    LW, I might encourage you to take days off and maybe not tell her the reason. A white lie never hurt anyone.

    As an aside, thank you for doing the responsible thing and not beating your child into submission, as your boss’s husband apparently thinks is reasonable.

  41. Babs*

    I love the love in this post. and OP if you need more on this whole 2e world please search out the facebook group “Parents of Twice Exceptional Children” The people in that group have been so invaluable to provide support and resources for anyone navigating this world.

    I stopped telling my coworkers or my boss anything about my kid except for his sports (because that was so much more acceptable). At one point I was working through his behavioral stuff until he could get tested for a learning disability – all while he was going to a gifted school, when a coworker, who I thought I had been pretty clear with described my son’s school as being one step from juvenile hall to another coworker – it was so far from reality that I realized that no matter how much I explained to her, she was not going to understand.

  42. Julie*

    I’m amazed that your pediatrician recognized the possible need for gifted testing. Not many do. There are several (many? hundreds?) of excellent twice-exceptional parent groups on Facebook, if you’re looking for a place to get non-judgmental, helpful advice or just a place to vent/ask questions/brag about the Awesomeness that is your son. The groups I’m in are closed, so you’ll need to request to join. You may never need to take advantage, but there is a lot of support available if you need it. Welcome to the club!

    1. Babs*

      Oh yes, good point. The group I’m in is a closed group. It was recommended by someone else. I hadnt realized there were more. Thanks!

    2. Zahra*

      Do you know of any groups for 2e adults? I got my ADHD diagnosis in adulthood, but I was definitely gifted (average grade of 95% if you removed arts and PE). I’d love to find a community of people that live the same delights and struggles.

  43. Backroads*

    There is such a difference between being an active kid and ADHD. Naysayers fail to realize there are legitimate brain differences associated with ADHD.

  44. MommyMD*

    Never get specific with medical details. Request the time off as needed for a medical appointment for yourself or your child and if you get any push, offer to bring a verification note that simply states the patient was seen.

  45. Not Tom, just Petty*

    Is anyone else extra annoyed by the borrowed authority of “my husband says…”
    Like bully for that mofo. Why’s he telling me how to raise my kid? Oh, It’s you, but let’s give your butting in more weight.

    My great aunt would do this, claim her late husband always said things like, “women should not wear tennis shoes when they are on their way to work.” I let here have her thing, because well, she was born in 1901 so I get where she’s coming from, and he died in the 1970s and I’m sure never gave a rat’s ass. And in the 90s I wore doc martens and drove her effing crazy anyway.

    1. Boötes*

      Interesting point you raise about cloaking one’s opinion. There aren’t any humans around to discuss that idea with, but my coffeemaker thinks you’re very perceptive.

  46. Serin*

    Holy shit, WHAT? She discussed your family’s private medical information with her husband? I view this as a lot more serious than Alison does. This has got to be a HIPAA violation.

    My work is sort of adjacent to people’s private medical information — in theory I could see it, though I never actually have — and every year I have to sign a paper saying I understand that if I discuss it with anyone who doesn’t have a sound business reason for seeing it (even one of my co-workers who works on the same account) I can be both fired and sued.

    It may be that there’s nothing you can really do about it other than follow Alison’s suggestions, but what your boss did is very wrong.

      1. Serin*

        Hm. My company is not a health care provider, and yet we have a set of rules that are described as “HIPAA compliance.” Maybe because we provide IT services to health care providers the same rules apply to us, or maybe they’re just using language loosely.

        Anyway, this boss stinks.

        1. Hillia*

          Yes, I work for a health insurance company and every single person there has to take HIPAA compliance training and is warned of the potential consequences, whether you directly see protected health information or not.

  47. Boötes*

    Spending time with friends with children lately has rekindled my appreciation for the vivid ways we can express dissatisfaction. On that note:

    “Good morning, Manager! I discussed the matter with my son — the matter of you discussing my son’s medical information with your husband — and he asked why you’re talking about him like that. He said you’re both on his Bad Guy list now and the only cure for Bad Guys is to throw you in a mud pit then into ice water and you’d have to listen to the worst news TWICE and then you’d be all muddy and icy and sad. Then he’d put you in a tree in a forest full of bears and cut the branch off and you’d fall into a giant bush of stinging nettles and bears. And then you should have mouldy turnips for dinner for the WHOLE YEAR.”

    And re: your update: “Ah, Manager! I googled Overbearing Know-it-alls and it turns out you should have grown out of it by now. And since you haven’t, you’re more likely to die of cancer of the soul.”

    Also, sounds like there’s a university professor out there who wants more spankings!

    1. Not Tom, just Petty*

      Particularly because manager is advocating it because well, he’s an educated man, so he is right. Disgusting on so many levels.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        Because the best way to tool for child paychology is physical abuse! Just ask this random professor (who mostl likely does NOT teach psychology)!

    2. Temperance*

      Yep. I think it says a lot about a grown ass adult if they can’t discipline a kid without smacking them.

  48. FormerEmployee*

    This is idiotic on the part of the clearly overbearing manager and her apparently equally overbearing husband.

    On rare occasion it has turned out that someone mentioning a frustrating, undiagnosed medical problem to a random person has had that person respond that they, their spouse, their child (whoever) had the same symptoms and after months/years of suffering was found to have XYZ Syndrome, so you might want to check into that and see.

    Of course, that’s about as common an occurrence as winning the lottery.

  49. Lora*

    *puts on official Big Pharma Hat*

    The best treatment is the treatment that you and your care team find works to manage your disease/disorder, whatever that may be.

    If that turns out to be diet and exercise, fantastic! Congrats on finding something that works for you! Finding treatments that work can be a long hard slog through misery.

    Also, as a matter of public health, you should get whatever vaccines are recommended by your doctor, and notify any and all partners you might have including one night stands if you are diagnosed with any STIs. Please do not take antibiotics unless your doctor says they are required, antibiotics do not cure viral infections and will merely create more drug resistant bacteria. (see that? I told you NOT to take drugs from which my colleagues and I profit! Because they are only to be used in cases where the risk is worth the benefit.) Wash your hands when you use the restroom, with plain old regular soap and water. Please stay home when you have an infection, to the best of your ability, in order to avoid infecting other people.

    I personally am fully vaccinated (including with my own handiwork), eat lots of vegetables (which are mostly organic for the only reason that I am too lazy to spray stuff in my garden) and fish (I live near a coastline, we have wonderful fish) and the occasional grass-fed Argentinian beef and drink a Kennedy-esque amount of wine and tequila. I also take SSRIs and thyroid medication made by my competitors, because it’s necessary for managing my brain chemistry, as my brain and thyroid hate me. I exercise daily (yoga, dance, barre, a little weight lifting), in total about 6-12 hours per week depending on my schedule. And when I have a health problem, I speak to my primary care doctor or the office’s nurse practitioner, who have recommended everything from diet changes to massage therapy to medication, depending on what was wrong with me. What I do NOT do is Google it or ask random people to have an opinion. I have had two different types of cancer and was treated both times by surgery, a small amount of radiation therapy, and a type of chemotherapy manufactured by my competitor, after which I recovered fully (knock on wood).

    *removes Big Pharma hat*

    Seriously, the crap that people come up with. I have heard it ALL. OP, I hope your child is able to thrive and gets whatever treatments help him to be healthy.

  50. Ruffingit*

    I diagnose mental health issues and assist people with them for a living. The fact that someone would comment about this child without ever having met him and with no real understanding of what he and the OP are going through is just mind boggling and makes me want to rip the throat out of this man. Harsh, yes, but I am so tired of armchair psychologists. It hurts people and sometimes can actually kill them when someone doesn’t take their mental health issues seriously or they think they know best based on less than zero knowledge of the disease, the person, or both. GAH!!!!!!!!

  51. Princess Cimorene*

    I only came to comment to say In the future, I’d recommend not sharing details with her at all.
    The same exact thing. Your sick time is yours. Your employer doesn’t need details of why or for what. You are allowed to vague and to expect privacy.

Comments are closed.