Sometime ago I got into a debate with a very good friend of mine who was a flight attendant at the time. She, rightly, was aggravated with loud, screaming, unruly children on flights she worked. She recommended that parents be more prepared with traveling with children and give them Benadryl to sedate them on long flights. At that time, I started a firestorm debate over whether this was ethical to misuse medication for convenience. I was a new parent when I started that firestorm and spoke from principle rather than experience.
Three and half years later, now a mother of two, who has traveled multiple trans-continental and international flights with infants and toddlers, including several as a solo parent, I’d like to elaborate more on my position.
See, my opinion is that there’s a time and place for drugs. Drugs are critical for precise medical situations and are life saving. They are very important and shouldn’t be disregarded. But beyond that, their use should be questioned.
When you use a drug designed for a specific medical purpose to exploit a side effect like sedating a child for a flight, what in essence are you achieving? What are you demonstrating to your kids by doing this? How is that different from sniffing white-out to get a high? When does this cross the border to recreational drug use?
In The Way to Happiness, L. Ron Hubbard discusses the subject of drugs in Precept 2.1 – Do Not Take Harmful Drugs:
People who take drugs do not always see the real world in front of them. They are not really there. On a highway, in casual contact, in a home, they can be very dangerous to you. People mistakenly believe they “feel better” or “act better” or are “only happy” when on drugs. This is just another delusion. Sooner or later the drugs will destroy them physically. Discourage people from taking drugs. When they are doing so, encourage them to seek help in getting off of them.
So you give a child Benadryl so they can be sedated, how are you affecting them mentally and physically? Is it Ok because it’s just here and there? When does it become not OK? These are rather philosophical questions that I think a new parent should deeply consider.
We all want the best for our kids. It’s these kinds of questions we should ask ourselves that help us make the best decisions so we can give them the best chances in life.