. . . the right care at the right time


Blog posts with a category of Parenting.

A mental illness episode shatters an idyllic Michigan town


Dr. David HarrisPsychiatrist New Oakland Family Centers

Dr. David Harris
Psychiatrist New Oakland Family Centers

By David Harris, MD and New Oakland Medical Director

Kentwood is a place where you’ll find friendly faces, excellent services and safe neighborhoods. Walk up and down any of our tree-lined streets and you’ll see why life is

Jamarion Lawhorn

Jamarion Lawhorn

wonderful here.”

– From a Kentwood, MI Chamber of Commerce website

Life, for the most part, may indeed be idyllic in Kentwood, MI, but the peace, tranquility and image of a family oriented West Michigan town was shattered when, at 6 PM on August 4, 12 year-old

Jamarion Lawhorn repeatedly stabbed 9-year-old Michael Conner Verkerke in the back at the Pinebrook Village mobile home playground. Conner, as he was called, ran screaming to his home and collapsed bleeding on his porch as his mother desperately tried to keep him alive until EMS arrived. He died at a hospital that evening.

It would be nice if we had a handy answer for what drove Lawhorn to take a kitchen knife and then, unprovoked, approach and then murder a perfect stranger while he played with two other children. Perhaps we will come to know why, but for now we are dumbfounded.

After stabbing Connor in front of two of his friends, Lawhorn left the playground and approached Glen Stacy, who lived nearby , and asked to use his phone to call 911. According to Stacy, the child made statements about wanting his life to be over and told dispatchers,“I just stabbed somebody. Please pick me up.” When police arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but Lawhorn, says Stacy, wanted the officers to first pick him up and yelled, “Hello. I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way.”

The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy added. “He then told police, ‘I want to die. I don’t want to be on this earth anymore.’ He says the boy also explained that he had ‘taken too many pills’ and ‘nobody loved him.’”

Lawhorn is being charged as an adult with open murder. Detectives will be looking extensively into his background, talking with his parents and others who know him to try to piece together what was going on in his life at the time of the attack. Had, for example, Lawhorn been bullied?

Did adults – especially his parents, but also his teachers – miss or overlook essential clues? There may be many factors, and we all await the investigative results, but as parents and concerned adults we need to observe our kids more intensely than ever. Continue reading

America's deadliest health problem

IMG_0238Blog by Michele Bernard, RN, Director of Nursing, New Oakland

If I could get every American to watch and then take action, based on the new documentary, “Fed Up,” I’d be the greatest nurse in history. More realistically, if I can just touch those who I see or read this blog, I’d be quite satisfied.

The documentary, hosted by Katie Couric, explains how the sugar industry is systematically ruining our health via the obesity epidemic.sugar

Couric is angry, explaining that in trying to be the best mom she could be, she always went out of her way to feed her kids a low fat diet. After all, we’d been told for decades that we were fat because we ate too much fat. But what that really was, was just a big fat smokescreen. Fat provides flavor, so manufacturers simply substituted more sugar, and we all just got fatter. She adds, “Over 95% of all Americans will be overweight or obese in 2 decades. In 2050, one out of every 3 Americans will have diabetes.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sugared drinks in his city. Just the other day, that ban was thrown out by an appeals court because in infringed on people’s “personal autonomy.” In fact, it does infringe on personal decisions.

Continue reading

IMG_1342By Martha Adair, Therapist, Director, New Oakland

Are Facebook and other social media sites immensely popular because of society’s growing inability to communicate well face-to-face, or, do they fill a void because peoplesm1 have fewer opportunities to communicate face-to-face?

This is the old, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” argument played out in the wildly pervasive social media explosion.

We need answers and solutions, because, at worst, our children are getting bullied, and at best, are still wasting huge chunks of time caught up in the fascination, addiction and dangers of social media.

At a recent meeting New Oakland had the Warren Consolidated School System, middle school Principal Shaun Greene-Beebee said, “80% of the problems we have with our students stem directly from social media.”

Think of that: 80% of problems in our schools are attributed to something that didn’t even exist less than a decade ago!

Many students become hopelessly distracted by the constant flow of text messages, Facebook posts and Instagram photos. In fact, Greene-Beebee told of two seventh grade girls, straight-A students in fact, who were suspended for “sexting” naked pictures of themselves.

I’ll take a wild leap that the boys on the receiving end may have lost their teacher’s train of thought on the root causes of World War II.

So, we know we have a problem, but who is to blame? Mark Zuckerberg? The kids themselves? Or, is it us, the parents? Continue reading