Gay Dad Life

American Horror Story: Getting Your Child to Take Medicine

I just got finished pitching Ryan Murphy my idea for the next season of American Horror Story, where two Dads repeatedly try to get their stubborn (yet ridiculously adorable) 6-year-old to take his medicine. Ryan felt it would be too dramatic for network TV. I don’t blame him.

As someone who’s endured brutal East Coast winters, debilitating migraines, the occasional childhood bully and three uneven seasons of Amazon’s Transparent, I thought I could handle just about anything. I was wrong. Nothing, I repeat nothing could have prepared me for the horror that is getting my 6-year-old to swallow his medicine.

Our son, Maxwell, has struggled with asthma-like symptoms for a few years. Typically, it’s kept under control with inhalers, which he has no problem using. But because he has hypersensitive airways, a typical cold or flu triggers nonstop coughing fits, nasal congestion and hoarseness that can last for months at a time. And they usually turn into post-nasal drips. In other words — we’re use to trying an array of different medicines.

And despite what you’ve heard — a spoonful of sugar does not help the medicine go down. We’ve tried it. We’ve tried everything. Mushing it in apple sauce … peanut butter … yogurt … ice cream? Tried it. Mixing it in chocolate milk? Tried that too. Letting him do chaser shots with his favorite juice? Yep. Offering him a crisp 20-dollar bill. Tried that twice. No takers. Seriously, nothing seemed to work. And for over-the-counter medicines, we can deal with it because there’s always another brand or flavor to try. (We once bought seven different flavors of Benadryl.) But when it’s a horrible-tasting antibiotic, sometimes there’s no other choice. And doctors tell us we must get him to take it. That’s when things get messy.

Max does to medicine what most of the country has done to Trump: #resist. He refuses to accept it. Every. Single. Time. And his gag reflexes are comparable to Stan's from South Park. So if he doesn’t like the taste, texture or smell, he’ll instantly throw up. When Maxwell decides he doesn’t want something, he means it. Our used-to-be white-but-now-brownish-green sofa is living proof of that. Jokes aside, this medicine-taking thing is serious and not finding a solution can have severe ramifications.

All this madness got me venting to everyone and anyone with a child. I sought advice on social media. I asked teachers, doctors and pharmacists how to get Max to take his medicine. And I got a lot of helpful information on how to not just get your child to take medicine, but get them to swallow it too. Some of the advice worked for me, and some of it didn’t. But in any event, I thought it might help you.

So without further ado, I give you the 10 most often employed medicine-taking tricks (Note: I am not a doctor. I am not a pharmacist. I’m just a desperate dad willing to try anything.)


  • IT’S ALL IN YOUR APPROACH:

    For me, asking “Are you ready for your medicine” ends with Max screaming “NO!” and locking himself in our wine cellar (and by wine cellar I mean broom closet next to a half-empty bottle of Manischewitz®). Instead I say something like, “It’s time for your medicine. Show Dada and Papa how a big boy takes his medicine.” Additionally, you should watch your body language and always try to mask your feelings. It’s important to stay calm, positive and reasonable. The more desperate you become, the more they will resist. They can zero in on your energy. Make sure your child feels that you’re on their side. You’re in this together. In other words, it’s not the time to enforce “because I said so” demands. Save that for their pre-teen years.

    2. PUT YOUR CREATIVE SKILLS TO GOOD USE:

    You could try asking your pharmacist for dye-free medicine. Then let your child pick and mix in their favorite food coloring. Trust me, any excuse to turn their tongues green is a good one. Alternatively, you can ask your local pharmacists to add liquid flavoring. There’s a product called FLAVORx that comes in all the flavors children love from root beer to bubblegum. The awful taste of a cough medicine can be masked by a delicious flavor your child prefers. There may be some additional costs for the custom flavors, so be sure to ask first. Also, while you’re at CVS, grab an extra box of ear plugs. Because if this idea doesn’t work, you’re going to need them!

    3. CHILL OUT:

    All right stop, collaborate and listen. You can give your child an ice cube to suck on for a minute. The cold will help numb their taste buds a little bit so the medicine goes down more smoothly. And if it’s a gross-tasting medicine, let them suck on the ice cube between sips to mask the taste. If you’re like me, and you worry about your little one choking on the ice, you can also try ice chips, juice popsicles or wrapping the ice cube in a thin washcloth. So, if there was a problem, yo, I possibly just solved it.

    4. CAMOUFLAGE IS ALL THE RAGE THESE DAYS:

    While it doesn’t seem to work for me, many parents have luck camouflaging the bad taste of medicine by combining it with a sweet-tasting food or drink to mask the bitterness. I’m told white grape juice is the best mix-in. Yogurt and applesauce are good choices too. Just make sure that the masking agent you choose doesn’t have an interaction with the medicine you’re giving, causing it to be more or less potent. If none of these ideas work, try dipping a spoon in chocolate syrup before pouring the medicine. Chocolate's strong taste apparently blocks out any bitterness. If that doesn’t work, nothing will.

    5. MAKE IT A GAME:

    A simple way to get a child to take medicine is to turn it into a fun game for them to play. For example, start with three spoons (or syringes). Put their favorite juice in one, chocolate syrup in one and medicine in the other… and ask them to swallow each to tell you which is the medicine. Little clever games can make all the difference. Some kids respond well to imaginary role play. (Yep, that’s not just for parents 😜.) Depending on their age, it might help to have your child pretend to give a doll or stuffed animal medicine first. Playing doctor can help them get more comfortable with taking the medicine themselves. I know … the things we do for our kids!

    6. LEAVE LYING TO THE PRESIDENT:

    Lying is never the answer, whether it’s about inauguration crowd size or telling your children their medicine is going to taste yummy if it's not. When your kids are around the age of 3, you can probably start explaining that taking medicine will make them feel better or make their hurt go away. Another good tip: Never refer to medicine as candy. You don't want them to seek it out when you’re not there to stop them. I mean, a couple of Flintstones vitamins never hurt anyone, but some of the others can.

    7. IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK:

    Asking for help is not admitting defeat. You should always feel comfortable asking others for advice. A friend suggested I ask the pediatrician for a higher concentration of my son’s prescription — that way we were able to finish it in four days instead of seven. For example, instead of one teaspoon of a drug at a 50-milligram concentration, your child could take half a teaspoon of the 100-milligram concentration. It's the same amount of medication in a smaller dose. Also if your child has an easier time taking chewables than liquids, ask the pharmacist if that's an option. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

    8. FORMATION WORLD TOUR:

    I knew that would get your attention. These days, medicine can take on lots of different creative forms. For example, now you can ask doctors to prescribe medicine in lollipop form. They even make kid-flavored dissolving strips to suppress coughs. Or you can be more creative. My neighbor told me she puts amoxicillin in the center of raspberries and her daughter eats it right up. While another dad-friend dips a pancake into the dose until each bite soaks up the medicine. So don’t be afraid to be original — it works for Queen B.

    9. BYPASS THE TASTE BUDS:

    Since taste buds are concentrated on the front and center of our tongues, try using a syringe or a dropper to bypass those fussy taste zones by placing the medicine near the back of their tongue. Even if your child seems too old for this approach, it’s a surefire way to avoid your kid spitting out their bad-tasting meds.

    10. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, BRIBE THEM:

    Sometimes it’s going to take some good old-fashioned bribery. Like his Dada, Max has a ravenous sweet tooth. And so these days, when it’s time to give Max his medicine, I’ve been known to sneak into our secret stash of sugar-filled treats. His drug of choice? Reese’s Pieces. I offer him four pieces per sip of medicine. I just put the syringe in his mouth, inject it, and before he’s able to spit it out, I say, "Here's your four Reese’s Pieces!” He’s been known to automatically swallow the entire dosage in one gulp to get his hands on the candy faster. I created a monster!

    ***************************

    There you have it. All the getting-your-kid-to-swallow-medicine tricks I’ve learned along the way. I hope the road is much smoother for you than it’s been for me. That’s a lie. I hope it’s just as bad for you. Knowing other parents struggle too makes me feel better. #kiddingnotkidding

    Now if you need me, I’ll be helping my son search for his Reese’s Pieces that I ate last night.

     

    Read more of David Blacker's blogs here.

     

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    Gay Uncles

    Gay Uncles are an Essential Part of This Gay Dad Family's Village

    It takes a village to raise a child, and this village includes many gay uncles

    In November last year, Ottawa-based husbands Matt Ottaviani and Rej Gareau (whose story we shared in July) became first-time dads through surrogacy. They were overjoyed to welcome their daughter Andy and become a family of three.

    But as many of us know, raising a child isn't always just about the nuclear family. The African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is a commonly repeated phrase, and rings very true for many families. Matt and Rej are no different, and when they shared their story last month, one thing jumped out to us: the important role Andy's guncles play in her and her dads' lives.

    In honor of Gay Uncles Day today, we reached out to Andy's many guncles to learn first-hand how their relationship with the family affects their lives. Here's what they had to say.

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    Need a Sitter for Your Kids? Gays With Kids Reviews UrbanSitter

    Back-to-school is already here for some of us, and if you're looking for a sitter to help out with school runs, after-school pick-ups, and the occasional date night, check out our review of UrbanSitter.

    Instagram @davidcblacker

    We moved from New York to Boston the summer of 2017. Along with the Manhattan skyline, our beloved Broadway, and late-night cookie deliveries, we also left behind our sitters — two sisters who had become more like family.

    After settling for several months into our new home and neighborhood, we realized we hadn't had a dads' night out since our move. Our kids were still too young to leave alone at night, so I began what I presumed would be the tedious task of finding a sitter.

    The first thing I did was to leave a post on our local parents' Facebook group. The dad of one of our daughters' classmates told me about UrbanSitter, a website and mobile app that he'd had success using to find last-minute sitters a few times. He also mentioned that within the app, I could see see babysitters and nannies recommended by parents at our kids' school in addition to local parenting groups.

    While I appreciated the tip, I let him know that I was really hoping for a direct referral. But when none others came from the — other than a couple of middle schoolers looking for their first sitting jobs — I decided to give it a try.

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    Move over Modern Family, there are some new gay dads taking over the small screen! Big Bad Boo Studios is bringing their animated series The Bravest Knight to Hulu. The series is based upon a children's book called "The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived" by Daniel Errico, and it follows the life of Sir Cedric - now grown and married to Prince Andrew - as he regales their adopted daughter Nia with tales of his knighthood journey as she trains to become a knight herself.

    "We are so excited about The Bravest Knight, its values and our partnership with Hulu," said Shabnam Rezaei, the director of the series and co-founder of Big Bad Boo Studios. "They understand how to push the envelope with authentic storytelling."

    "I immediately fell in love with the idea of a girl wanting to work hard and make something of herself," Rezaei continued. "I also have a nephew who has two dads, so it's a very personal issue for me. I want him to have role models when he's watching TV. I want him to feel like having two dads is completely normal. That's what this show is going to do for him."

    Errico's book was first realized as an animation when Hulu created a short film based upon his writing and were interested in exploring the concept of a full series. "I watched the eight minutes on Hulu and at the end the prince and the knight get married and I was in tears," says Rezaei. Rezaei then stepped in to create all new art work including new character design by Tim Linklater and backgrounds by Sarita Kolhatra. Together, they created a kickass bible and pitched the series to Hulu and were successful.

    Diversity and inclusivity is celebrated throughout The Bravest Knight, reflected by its casting choices. Nia is played by Storm Reid, from "A Wrinkle in Time," and her dads Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew are voiced by T.R. Knight and Wilson Cruz respectively. The star studded cast also includes Wanda Sykes, Bobby Moynihan, RuPaul, Steven Weber, Teri Polo, AJ McLean, Jazz Jennings, Maz Jobrani and Christine Baranski as the formidable Red Dragon.

    "With so many wonderful stories yet to be told, we hope that The Bravest Knight stands as an example of the undeniable strength in inclusivity, and the inherent joy in all forms of love and identity," said Errico, the author of the original book.

    The first 5 episodes were released on June 21, and there are 8 more planned for release before the end of the year. Be sure to tune in!

    This is the Main Title Song for Big Bad Boo's Hulu Original Series "The Bravest Knight". The song is performed by Justin Tranter and composed by Michael Plow...

    Popular

    'Our Family is Complete': Congrats to Gay Dads on Their Recent Births and Adoptions!

    Join us in congratulating all of the gay men in our community whose families grew recently!

    Wishing all of these gay dads congratulations on their exciting news this month. From becoming first-time dads to finalizing adoptions, congrats to everyone in our community on their wonderful news!

    Circle Surrogacy is the proud sponsor of this month's congrats post. They were founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. "For over 20 years we've helped LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!"

    Congratulations to Andrew and Edward on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

    For Andrew and Edward, their foster parent training plus home study took about a year. "We had a brief placement of twin girls that were four years old two months after we had been approved," said Andrew. "Then we took a break as it was a difficult process, the 'loss' aspect, when that placement ended."

    Then on March 15, 2017, their case worker sent them information about two little babies - a boy and a girl - that were still in the NICU and only nine days old. "It was a foster case with an uncertain future, but we decided those little babies needed us!" They dads took a leap of faith and on July 10 this year, their twins' adoptions were finalized. Andrew and Edward have a wonderful bond with the paternal grandmother as well as a special relationship with the twins' father. "We all love these twins, and the more love they have the better their lives will be."

    "Adoption is one of those experiences where one side experiences incredible joy while the other side experiences incredible loss," continued Andrew. "We are grateful to experience this joy knowing that biological family members are happy for us to experience that joy."

    Congratulations to this Mt Airy, Philadelphia, forever family of four!

    Congratulations to Sean and Thomas on finalizing the adoptions of their twins!

    Together 15 years, London couple Sean and Thomas recently finalized the adoption of their twins.

    "About 3 years ago we started meeting adoption agencies and were approved as prospective adopters the following spring," shared Thomas. "We were anticipating a long wait, but quite quickly were matched with our twins. At the time they were nearly five."

    After a fairly long transition period for everyone to get settled in, the adoption was formalized the day after Father's Day. "Two years after matching, at times it seems like the kids have been with us forever and other times a blink of an eye. But it is certainly the most life-changing, transformative experience and we cannot imagine life without them. It's wonderful that our family is now official!"

    Congratulations to Phillip and Clinton on the birth of their daughter Madison!

    Little Madison joined her dads on July 1, 2019, after coming into the world via surrogate.

    "I caught Madison as she was born," said Phillip. "I have never felt such an exhilarating rush in my entire life! We were genuinely in love at first sight!"

    Now that we Phillip and Clinton are dads, they say they feel a "sense of wholeness" in their lives! "We have a new motivation and purpose in life! It's truly the greatest blessing!"

    These new dads and the apple of their eye live in Texas.

    Congratulations to Michael and Tyler on the birth of their twins, Elliot and Oliver!

    Herriman, Utah, couple Michael and Tyler have been together for 9 years, and married for 3. "In the beginning of our relationship we knew how important family was and how much we wanted to be dads," said Micheal. "After we got married we met with a couple surrogacy agencies and were advised to meet with an IVF clinic before proceeding. In doing so, we found that going through a surrogacy journey independently was very possible."

    So the dads decided to shift gears and work in that direction, booking a follow up appointment with the clinic. "We met with their 3rd party coordinator over the surrogate process and she did not have any inquiries of any surrogates." Serendipitously, and unbeknownst to the husbands at the time, their future surrogate made an appointment to talk about being a gestational carrier for a same-sex couple. "The next day we got the unexpected call that someone was interested and open to meet. From there the rest was history as we continued with the surrogacy process."

    Over a year later, the dads welcomed their two sons. "The first time we got to hold the boys, it felt so natural to us, as if nothing else in the world existed and time stood still as we got lost in the moment."

    Congratulations to Adam and Josh on finalizing the adoption of their daughter!

    Adam and Josh got engaged on Good Morning America on Valentines Day, and welcomed their Christmas miracle baby into their lives on December 26th. On July 12 this year, they celebrated becoming a forever family of three.

    "For an event that always seemed like it would be the end of our adoption journey, Baby K's Finalization Day felt more like the beginning of a greater adventure," shared Adam. "Since day one, Baby K was always loved and 100% part of our family, but we are so filled with joy to see this day come and make it officially official. We cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives not only watching Baby K grow and develop, but also to see the two of us learn and grow in this new role as parents."

    Congrats to these Dallas dads!

    Congratulations to Dan and Martin on the birth of their son Herman! 

    Copenhagen couple Dan and Martin welcomed their second child through surrogacy on July 11 this year in Florida, USA. Herman joins big sister Ellen, born March 1, 2015, in Vermont via surrogacy. Here's a little more.

    "Two amazing American women and their families took us in as their own and we're forever bonded," said Dan about their path to fatherhood experience. "It has been an amazing journey with both of them, our family is complete."

    Congrats to the Danish family!

    This post is sponsored by Circle Surrogacy

    Circle was founded in 1995 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be a parent. To this day, that belief is at the core of everything we do. For over 20 years we've helped straight and LGBTQ+ couples and singles around the world fulfill their dreams of parenthood. We've helped bring more than 1,900 babies into this world... and counting!

    We're an agency comprised of social workers and lawyers, accountants and outreach associates, and program managers and coordinators; but, more importantly, we're an agency made up of parents, surrogates and egg donors, who are passionate about helping people build their families, and invested in each and every journey.

    Circle is proud to have helped so many gay families achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Together, we make parenthood possible.®

    News

    Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

    In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

    In a post on Facebook, Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. He also discussed his strained relationship with his Mormon faith, claiming he felt he didn't feel comfortable living as an openly gay man in a church with a difficult history with respect to its LGBTQ members. He and his wife, Lois, have filed for divorce.

    "This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written," he began the letter. "Hard because I am finally acknowledging a part of me that I have struggled with most of my life and never wanted to accept, but I must be true and honest with myself." He went on to acknowledged a new set of challenges facing he and his family as they navigate a divorce and his coming out — in the public eye, no less — but concluded, ultimately, that it's a "huge relief" to be "honest and truthful about my orientation."

    He went on to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. "I didn't want to face the feelings I fought so hard to suppress, and didn't want to reach out and tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them. But I cannot do that any longer."

    In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart further discussed his reasons for coming out now, as a 64-year-old man.

    "I mean, I knew that it would probably come out at some point, just because people can't leave things alone. I did anticipate that it would happen at some time, but my intention in writing it was to try to let my friends and family know, you know my extended family ... know where things were. So, you know, I was really concerned about how the rumor mill starts," he told the paper. "I knew that at some point in time, that would come out," he elaborated. "I didn't know when it would come out, and so I would rather have it come out the way that it did versus having some rumors going around, and you know the crazy way things can get twisted."

    In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

    "I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

    As to how his family has taken the news, Smart said they've been "very kind" to him. "I think it was very difficult to have this kind of come out of the blue. I don't think any of them knew I was struggling with this, so it was something they were, if you want to call it, blindsided by. I totally get that. They've really been very wonderful."

    Congrats to Ed Smart on making the difficult decision to live his truth. Read his full letter here and his interview with the Tribute here.

    Personal Essays by Gay Dads

    "Rollercoaster and Sons," Explores the Journey of One Single Gay Dad Through the Foster-Adopt System

    When it comes to the foster-adopt system, "there is no roadmap," said single gay dad Chase Turner

    Guest post written by Chase Turner

    Many of us thought long and hard about what avenues were best to pursue being a dad. For me, fostering to adoption was the selected road. There is no roadmap here, many things that came my way were learned by doing. Along the way, I started wishing I had a better support group or people who could understand what it's like to be gay and attempting to adopt. Often we (people who are LGBT) feel scrutinized and judged for choices that the majority makes but for us there is pushback. Once my adoption was complete, I felt it was necessary that I put pen to paper and write this story, from a gay male perspective.

    My goal was to provide a voice in the space of foster care and adoption where there is a void. Additionally, I wanted to provide an authentic look at all facets of the process, from the kids, to the obstacles and challenges that happened within my personal life. I do hope you enjoy and more importantly can relate or prepare yourself for a similar journey.

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    Fun

    Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

    The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

    First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

    And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

    "They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

    So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

    Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

    Read the whole article on DPA here.

    Fatherhood, the gay way

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