Custody of a 6 year old Ulster County child was awarded to the father after the Court found that the repeated administering of Benadryl to “help him fall asleep” 3 or 4 times a week. The parties previously had joint custody of the child but when the father noticed the child in a zombie-like state he filed a neglect proceeding against the mother.
The Appellate Division in Matter of O’Dale UU. v. Lisa UU., found that the joint custody arrangement proved to be workable until the fall of 2013 when the child began exhibiting behavioral problems – characterized by the mother as “meltdowns” – wherein the child would become rebellious and refuse to listen to her. The mother initially sought the father’s assistance during these incidents, in response to which the father would go to the mother’s residence and intervene. Subsequently, however, the mother began giving the child Benadryl – an antihistamine – “to help him fall asleep.” By her own admission, the mother gave the child two or three times the recommended dosage of this medication – without a physician’s approval and without the child displaying any symptoms that the drug was designed to treat – approximately “three or four times a week” over the course of three months.
The Court found that there was no question that the mother’s actions demonstrated a flawed understanding of her role as a parent and evidenced a serious lack of judgment with respect to her child’s health, safety and overall well-being. Although the mother insisted that she did not drug the child in order to control his rebellious behavior and assured Family Court that she had learned her lesson in this regard, the fact remains that, instead of consulting with the child’s physician regarding the child’s alleged difficulties in falling asleep, the mother repeatedly gave her child medication – for no medical purpose and well in excess of the recommended dosage – over a period of months and until such time as the child was removed from her care by DSS.