Bipolar teenage son at home daycare
January 26, 2020 10:47 AM   Subscribe

My two year old has been at a wonderful home daycare for the last 6 months. But the owner has told me that her 16 year old son will be moving home from boarding school and that he is bipolar and ADHD. Yikes. How concerned would you be?

So far this home daycare in California has been amazing. The owner is super professional and is always engaging the toddlers in everything from making pizza to art. She has real Montessori materials and was a head teacher at a preschool where the large class sizes made her quit and start her own daycare. Her daycare is limited to 6 toddlers. However I found out that her 16 year old son has been bipolar from a very young age and was hospitalized frequently before they found him a boarding high school out of state that has medical facilities and therapists on site. He is graduating in May and will be moving home to live with his mom. His plans are to attend a local college. But he will still be in her home most of the time. I suspect he will also be eating lunches with her and the children. According to her he has been stable for most of his time at the boarding school. But his illness sounds quite serious. She also thinks he has ADHD although he hasn't been officially diagnosed. Not only that she told me he has invited a friend to stay at her home for a few days over spring break. I am a little worried about any older male children at a home daycare due to raging hormones and still developing sexuality. I don't know if I should ask her more questions about him - has he ever been violent? How will she make sure kids are never left alone with him? Should children be eating lunches with a potentially manic or depressed teenager? I am planning to look for backup daycares just in case he does have an episode and she cannot look after the children. But would you just wait and see? I think her daycare is otherwise ideal.
posted by KatNips to Human Relations (37 answers total)
I wouldn't leave him there. :( This is a big no for me. No one can know how he will handle a transition home and it doesn't sound like things went perfect in the structured setting of the facility he was at. Nope. (I had an older mentally ill brother in my home)
posted by beccaj at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

The only question I would have is are the kids ever left alone with him. That's a good question to ask about anyone. I don't understand your concern about them all eating lunches together. Do you think seeing a depressed person eating would be traumatizing to your child? I can assure you that people with depression and with bipolar disorder eat just like anyone else. I would just wait and see what happens.
posted by SyraCarol at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2020 [43 favorites]

My guess is that it probably (like 95%) will be fine. However, those wouldn't be high enough odds to leave my child there. I'd start looking for other options. Sorry.
posted by Betelgeuse at 10:59 AM on January 26, 2020 [7 favorites]

I think given that she's the one who told you all of this, which itself feels a little strange to me, it would be appropriate to ask her what her plan is if her son is unwell while she's working and what contact the kids have with visitors to her home.
posted by bleep at 11:00 AM on January 26, 2020 [7 favorites]

No, I would not be okay with this. Similarly, if he had a serious physical illness that might require sudden emergency care, I would have a problem with it. It really sucks for her, and I would give her a big bonus when leaving, but I would really worry safety-wise about someone splitting their care between a somewhat-fragile child of their own and 6 toddlers.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

I mean, if she had someone else there with her (like an aide or an assistant) who was there the whole time and could handle all 6 kids, I would probably be okay with it. But the reality of a serious illness is that her son might need emergency care without notice, to the point that she would have to pick between the safety of the toddlers in her care or the safety of her son. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my son with anyone who ran a high risk of having to make that choice.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:12 AM on January 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

ADHD is basically normal. Sixteen year old kids are basically normal. If well-treated, with someone who responds well to treatment, bipolar is also within the range of normal (I mean it's normal anyhow, but it may not be normative). I think the "raging hormones" concerns thing is a non-starter unless, for some reason, this kid were going to be alone with children.

However, it seems like this kid may be a bit of a question mark and I agree with others who say that it's possible your daycare operator may be splitting time between caring for the daycare children and caring for her own child (if he winds up needing it), and that there's a bit of a "wait and see" aspect to all of it. It was nice of her to be up front about this.

Concur with IFDSS#9, if there's no backup plan if there's an emergency, I'd be a little concerned. And, I'm someone who has someone with a serious mental illness in my family, I know how stigmatizing that can be and that sucks, and I think helping people with mental illnesses be part of a society is an important thing we all should do. However, with very young children who may not have the understanding or the vocabulary, it might not be the way to get started.
posted by jessamyn at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2020 [8 favorites]

You have been impressed by this daycare provider's professionalism. I would assume that she will maintain that professionalism until you see evidence otherwise.
posted by metasarah at 11:18 AM on January 26, 2020 [43 favorites]

She's a professional, a former head teacher, her daycare has been otherwise amazing, and she told you about it well ahead of time. Also, she obviously got treatment for the son right away when he was younger, and had the resources to deal with it by sending him to a boarding school. Where he has been stable. It seems pretty likely that she has a plan for in case he needs emergency care, like a neighbor who could take him somewhere. You could ask what the backup plan is. But this wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:19 AM on January 26, 2020 [64 favorites]

I am a little worried about any older male children at a home daycare due to raging hormones and still developing sexuality.

Going from what sounds like normal sexual development focused on someone of his own age to "likely child molester" because the teen is male and has depression is a problematic ableist and gendered reaction, to say the least.

Nonetheless, if you just aren't comfortable leaving your child there then you're just not comfortable and you should probably just honor that rather than being anxious and also probably signaling your suspicion to this woman who has enough on her plate, or her son who also doesn't deserve it.

If there's some history of violent or threatening behavior, etc, that's a different story. But it shouldn't be assumed from a bipolar diagnosis.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:20 AM on January 26, 2020 [101 favorites]

Do you think seeing a depressed person eating would be traumatizing to your child?

No, but witnessing a manic episode could be.

Otherwise, a 16-year-old boy in the home with ADHD I wouldn't think twice about. I would put those concerns aside and focus on whether you are comfortable with what might happen if the son has a manic episode, both in terms of how your kid will react, and how appropriate care will be provided for your kid if there is an emergency.
posted by grouse at 11:33 AM on January 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have been around a few teenagers who were difficult enough to send away to boarding school by non-upper-class parents (I assume there are rich people for whom the cost isn't a sacrifice might have other reasons) and I was worried about my physical safety, despite being peers, around every single one.
posted by flimflam at 11:44 AM on January 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Did you just find out? It feels to me like you haven’t really processed this yet and are feeling panicky.

You seem to maybe not know a lot about what these diagnoses really mean. Many, many bipolar people are excellent parents. And many teenage boys are great with kids and would never hurt them. You almost seem to be equating teenage male with child molester, which is . . . weird. This provider is very professional and has been upfront with you about the situation. For all you know, the replacement provider you find will be hiding something that actually is a danger to your child.

You know, any child in that daycare could have a medical emergency at any time, requiring the provider to take the child to an emergency room. Have you worried before that the provider wouldn’t be able to handle it?

It seems to me that you don’t know a lot about mentally ill people and that your fear is clouding your judgment. Of course, you can pull your child out for any reason whatsoever, but I wonder if your fear will result in your putting your child in a daycare that isn’t as good.
posted by FencingGal at 11:50 AM on January 26, 2020 [43 favorites]

My dad is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and I'm really uncomfortable with a lot of the insinuations in both the question and in several comments. It seems a lot of people are stigmatizing a medical diagnosis.

The kid might be fine. He might be a terror. But that would be the case regardless of his medical history.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2020 [69 favorites]

You know, any child in that daycare could have a medical emergency at any time, requiring the provider to take the child to an emergency room. Have you worried before that the provider wouldn’t be able to handle it?

I would have been worried about that too, for the record. I think six toddlers is too much for a single person alone. Regardless, though, there's a huge difference. Containing a toddler compared to containing a 16yo is different. The way an ambulance/emergency call will go for a teenager vs. a toddler is different.

I respect that people are trying not to be ableist, but worrying about the ability of the provider to manage the behavior of a 16yo with a diagnosed mood disorder, which has serious behavioral disturbances as a symptom, is reasonable.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:11 PM on January 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

And, sorry, I didn't want to multicomment, but I have multiple family members with serious mood disorders. They are individuals and their individual situations should be taken into account. Here, if this kid were coming off of four years of successful, stable home life I would think differently. But he's going to be going through a major transition (multiple major transitions), it doesn't sound like his disorder is completely manageable by his mother alone, and 16yos are already wildcards in terms of impulsivity.

I'm sure he's a good kid, and that his mother is a good mother. I just don't think that this sounds like a great situation for a home daycare without any other adults around.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

Some questions to consider, regardless of age and health: In general, how do you feel about there being other people in the home while your kid is there? Does the daycare owner have a policy about who can interact with the kids in her charge, and in what ways? Does the daycare take place in a separate part of her home, and if not would that be a problem? If her son has friends over, how will that work? If he is going to have any interaction with the kids, or with the daycare space, will she be giving him any training or instruction on things to do or not do?
posted by trig at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Have you asked her any of these questions? I don't think you or we have enough info to answer this question, and I think you can ask these questions very reasonably. My son went to a home-based day care when he was a toddler.

I think, since there is going to be a change in who is living in her home, you are well within reason to ask her questions like: will the new person ever be alone with the children? Will he be around/in and out and will the children interact with him regularly? Does she have a plan for if her son has sudden medical needs during the day?

He graduated from his program, didn't get ejected or anything, right? Do you have any reason to think he's not stable and under control? You know how her home is set up; most of the home-based day cares I have seen have separate areas for the day care and a family member in the home would not interact with the kids unless they specifically chose to (upstairs vs. downstairs, parts of a duplex, etc.)

I absolutely understand your gut reaction that something is changing and you're asking if you need to worry about it, but you seem to be catastrophizing based on the actual information that's here.

Now, if you've asked her these questions and she doesn't seem to have answers to them, or if the answers aren't satisfactory ("oh, he'll be in and out, but eventually he'll probably take some classes"), it might be reasonable to consider whether it changes your perception of the school. But please approach her professionally and let her show you whether she's got this under control or not.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:31 PM on January 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

No, I would not be okay with this. Similarly, if he had a serious physical illness that might require sudden emergency care, I would have a problem with it. It really sucks for her, and I would give her a big bonus when leaving, but I would really worry safety-wise about someone splitting their care between a somewhat-fragile child of their own and 6 toddlers.

This. Someone with potentially massive emergency needs is going to be present in the daycare, and she will have to drop everything and tend to him if needed. It's not about ADHD or about his age or about eating lunch. It's that if things get dangerous quickly she will have to drop the kiddos and take care of her kid. It's just not a safe situation.

I would find another daycare. Sorry.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:34 PM on January 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

It's fine if this comment is deleted by a mod for not really answering the question: a lot of the assumptions and insinuations that people are making in this thread are why some people don't get treatment for mental illness. This is stigma. This is literally what stigma looks like. Mentally ill people are always at a greater risk of harm to themselves than to someone else, and that people are talking about fearing harm from this teenage child, that is stigma, I'm sorry!

Go talk to the daycare provider. She offered this information probably in a bid for transparency, it's not suspicious to be upfront. Can you imagine how people would react if she kept it private, considering this reaction? Ask her how her son being home will work, if it will change anything . If I know teens (and shit, y'all, I work at a boarding school for teens, many of whom, incidentally, have ADHD and mental illnesses, and plenty of staff have young children here) the last thing this kid wants to do is hang out with toddlers or sit around listening to the commotion of toddlers. He'll be away in his room if not out of the house whenever possible, I'll wager, or in classes since you just said he'll be going to the local college. If you have no reason to distrust her, I wouldn't distrust her now because of her son. A son who has done nothing but be sick, and probably suffered plenty for it. Just ask her about emergency procedures! If they don't satisfy you fine, but let's stop pretending that this stigma is actually about fearing for children.

and everyone in here should ask themselves some questions: at what age would you allow your child to be near a person with a mental illness? How many people with a mental illness do you think your child encountered but you didn't know it? How do you think the people with mental illness feel reading this? What if they are parents? How do you think the teenagers with mental illness feels reading this? Do you think treatment is meaningful? How much treatment, what kind, would make you feel safe? If none, do you think there is no meaningful kind of recovery or all people with mental illness always ticking time bombs to you? Do you think people with mental illness should never have children? What about children with mental illness, should they be kept from other children?

If this is really about emergency procedure, ask her. That's the answer. If this is about "bipolar=scary!danger!" then do some soul-searching, the lot of you.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 12:51 PM on January 26, 2020 [169 favorites]

There's a lot to untangle here. The first thing I would recommend is that you read Protecting the Gift, which is by the author of the The Gift of Fear in part because it will help structure your thinking around risk. The questions you're asking about individuals who also are in a home daycare with the provider are not bad ones, at all, but you may be focusing in the wrong direction.

"Not only that she told me he has invited a friend to stay at her home for a few days over spring break. I am a little worried about any older male children at a home daycare due to raging hormones and still developing sexuality." What you are looking for in terms of abuse is not kids with raging hormones but actual predators. Abusing a toddler would not be a part of normal teen sexuality but a serious disorder. Just to help with your thoughts here.

This is what I would ask of any home provider:

- who else has access to the children while they are in your care?
- what measures do you take and have you taken to ensure that anyone who has access to the children is screened or supervised?
- fire safety, choking hazards, weapons, cleaning routines, childproofing, etc. -- I think the risk that any teenager is going to leave a hazardous product out or a door unlocked is much greater than anything to do with a known-and-treated mental illness.

I think in this situation if you want to stay with this home-based provider, you need to start talking to her about your concerns, including this situation. It doesn't sound like you know what you are worried about so maybe ask about that - what does a bipolar episode look like? (I don't personally think this is likely to be an issue, but maybe it is.) What's her plan if there's an issue with her son's health? With the ADHD, what's her plan to keep the environment safe - like if the kids are in a kids-only few rooms, that's a great plan.

I'd also include yourself in those plans. It's very different if you work 15 minutes away in a job you can leave if you have to, vs. being required in surgery an hour away and commuting on a train schedule.

If you can't talk to her about these things or if she blows your questions off, that is your biggest red flag that it's not a safe situation. I screened all my kids' daycare providers with very blunt questions about fire safety, choking hazards, and staff screening, and any providers that gave me the least whiff of defensiveness or awkwardness or who made out like I was the problem were taken off my list. Not just because of the actual measures, but this is someone watching my child and things could happen and I wanted to know that we could communicate about them.

Daycare is really hard. There are a lot of really lovely people out there who do it with dedication and education. For me, one reason I didn't go with a home-based daycare is that I was uncomfortable relying on a single person in their own home to provide an adequate safety net. I either wanted to control the environment myself, which I did briefly with a nanny, or have my child in a professional setting designed for that purpose.

But there is no no-risk situation, including being home (and sick and tired and stressed). However, the best daycare providers are your partners in talking about it and addressing worries. So I'd start there.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:18 PM on January 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

There are only two issues here:

(a) In general, does anyone not her interact with the kids unsupervised? That is a question you should already know the answer to, because it's a safety issue regardless of who the person is, so just update the information with respect to the kid.

(b) What is her plan in case her child with a serious medical condition requires emergency attention? She should have one, a real one, just as if her elderly mom were also living with her.

I really can't even figure out where these insinuations about this particular kid possibly being an abuser are coming from.
posted by praemunire at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2020 [19 favorites]

I would start with looking at what you will possibly be given up for a situation that hasn't occurred yet. This woman sounds like a very good educator, one who knows her son's mental illness, and who most likely wouldn't put her kids at risk, nor her livelihood. It sounds like she is open and communicates, so I would start there by sharing your concerns. I can't imagine a 16 year old sitting down daily to eat with a bunch of toddlers- he will most likely grab and go, and will most likely be in the parts of the house that the daycare is not in (his bedroom?)

How many alternative options are there that offer this level of care? I live in an area where childcare is pretty hard to get into, let alone one that sounds so great. I imagine that you are basing a lot of your feelings of being the parent of a young child, and not being able to imagine what they will be like as a teen. Your teen will have just as many assumptions made about them, and as a mother, we care and love our children the same way as when they are little. Sounds like your daycare provider is parenting her child in exactly the same way she cares for other people's children, and I wouldn't give that up unless there were documentable concerns (like- the son can't pass a background check, or a search shows crimes committed.)
posted by momochan at 1:32 PM on January 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

It absolutely makes sense to ask about any new person being left unsupervised with the kids, and to ask about emergency care plans. The home care situation is changing and it’s very reasonable to want to understand what the changes will entail.

The rest of this, though, is just dripping with damaging assumptions about people with mental illness. I know there are hugely high stakes for you in making sure your child is safe, and you should do whatever you need to do to be able to sleep at night. But based on the information you have given here, you’re catastrophizing based on a mistaken understanding of what bipolar disorder and ADHD are. I hope you will take some time going forward to learn about what you don’t know about people with these disorders.
posted by Stacey at 1:49 PM on January 26, 2020 [27 favorites]

There's a lot to untangle here. The first thing I would recommend is that you read Protecting the Gift, which is by the author of the The Gift of Fear in part because it will help structure your thinking around risk.

As a counter-note, I have found Gavin de Becker's other work to be incredibly ableist with respect to neurodiverse people and the potential threats posed by them, in ways that are neither evidence-based nor particularly experience-based. I do not trust him on topics of weighing threats with respect to mental health or neurodiversity, in part because I do not trust him to be able to accurately assess risk from neurodiverse people without relying on inaccurate stereotyping. de Becker's whole thesis is to listen to anything that incites alarm or fear, but sometimes fear is incited for reasons that are not evidence-based but are based instead on stereotypes. This is most common in cases where people are interacting with people who are marked as Other in some way and therefore on edge and worried, because unfamiliar things are usually a little bit scary until we develop enough experience or knowledge to feed our own intuitions. When we experience fear and uncertainty, it's important to pay attention to whether we are afraid because of behaviors we observe from a specific person or whether we are afraid because we are not sure what to expect from new categories of people.

There are a lot of assumptions here about this child's history and potential threat level. There seems to be relatively little actual information about what his needs and likely interaction with the toddlers is likely to be. I suspect it might be helpful to fill in the gaps with more information there by speaking to your daycare provider and getting more detail about how her son's needs might impact your relationship with her (e.g. in terms of emergency plans), and not necessarily assume that a teenage boy with bipolar is a budding sexual predator right off the bat.
posted by sciatrix at 2:49 PM on January 26, 2020 [23 favorites]

Others have noted that people with bipolar are just that, people, but if you're truly concerned about any older male children at a home daycare due to raging hormones and still developing sexuality (emphasis on "any" mine), that seems like something to unpack further. Unless you have reason to believe this child (because a 16yo is still a child) or his friend (who at this point you know nothing about) presents a danger to himself or others, or has a history of acting out in sexual ways, it's at best uncharitable and at worst delusional to equate "hormonal teenager" with "potential sexual predator".

Every teenager is different. Every person with bipolar is different. Some of them are dangerous, because they're people and some people are dangerous. But "is a teen" or "has a mental illness" shouldn't be a blanket reason to fear someone without other information.
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:11 PM on January 26, 2020 [18 favorites]

You know what's different about this situation versus any other daycare provider?

Your provider disclosed this.

Lots of people have bipolar disorder and are not dangerous to children. The average bipolar person is not dangerous to children, and also is not attracted to them. There are better odds that another kid in the daycare will grow up to have bipolar disorder than that any of the kids will be in danger from the provider's son.

The ableism on display in this thread is really gross.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:04 PM on January 26, 2020 [39 favorites]

Yeah, I’m not sure if you understand what bipolar disorder truly is, or ADHD. If you’re not comfortable, that’s fine but the insinuations in this question make me, a physician, shudder. I truly hope you don’t carry these assumptions about mental illness in your personal or professional life—because I promise you that other people you care about also struggle and also keep it secret because of stuff like this.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 4:37 PM on January 26, 2020 [25 favorites]

To address the Protecting the Gift thing, it's great then that he doesn't actually suggest screening for mental illness at all. Here's his list of questions for daycare providers. When I read his book, my takeaway was look for providers who are partners in safety.

I haven't read the books in a while but my recollection of them is that de Becker says the OPPOSITE of worrying about people who are quote-unquote mentally ill, and focuses on predatory behaviour like people who won't take no for an answer or try to make you indebted to them. Not sure it should matter, but I have a diagnosed mental illness that lots of people have knee jerk reactions about and I don't recall him approaching the question in the way he's been characterized. He talks a lot in Protecting the Gift how the worries parents have about people and their children are often media-driven and not really focused on safety.

Anyways, OP, I think there are resources out there for you to consider this question.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:45 PM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Six toddlers and one adult is illegal in my state so I'd be looking for a new daycare based on that alone.
posted by notjustthefish at 4:45 PM on January 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would be absolutely zero percent concerned about the teenager in the absence of any evidence that he has any history of violent or otherwise dangerous behavior. Neither being male nor being a teen nor having bipolar disorder nor having ADHD make a person dangerous to children. It is because of ableist and sexist stigma that people think otherwise.
posted by waffleriot at 5:31 PM on January 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Personally I would consider the transition time to be the most problematic. I know it would be for me.

In your shoes I would take a month off while the teenager adjusts to the new surroundings. If he’s stable in his new life (performing his self-care) great, no worries. If he’s not you’ll want to move on.

Bipolar I is not dangerous to others because people suddenly become violent. It is dangerous because the sufferer can behave incredibly recklessly. You don’t want to risk that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:01 PM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think the diagnoses are a bit of a red herring here. I have definitely passed on home daycares purely based on the owner's random late-teen child(ren) clearly hanging around in the same room space as the kids during the day, when those teens were apparently neurotypical and I had zero prior knowledge of any irregular behavior.

Wasn't there a Metafilter truism awhile back that "you don't owe it to anybody to let them hold your baby"? This is a situation where you're considering handing off your very young child to a situation of unknown levels of daily contact with a total stranger to you. Most records for minors are not publicly available, so there's no way to use a background check/ criminal record check to rule out worrisome past incidents. And in this case, again, independently of any diagnosis, the only thing you know about this person is that his past behavior was so consistently problematic that he needed to be sent out of the home, and that he has no track record of remaining stable at home.

I think people's sympathies for his struggles are making them reflexively defend the son's right to be given the benefit of the doubt by society in general, and that's absolutely fair. However, when disposing our small children, we tend to want to exert extra diligence to rule out the possibility of harm, as much as possible; hence the practice of mandatory background checks for many perfectly nice adults who will be in regular contact with children. In this case, sans records figuring out the extent of any risk will be very difficult to do: if anything, the social pressure to appear charitable and non-judgmental in discussing a child suffering with mental illness will make it even more challenging than with a neurotypical teen for you to have a frank conversation with his mother about his history (behavior? substance abuse? problematic prior interactions with children?) or the extent and reliability of the separation measures she has in place.

Moreover, given the pressure she's under to preserve both her livelihood and her relationship with her son (who may have nowhere else to go), how much could you trust the answers even if they seemed favorable? The owner's having told you about her son in advance does not necessarily prove her to be a model of transparency; you would certainly be meeting him and asking questions later on when he turned up, anyway. And even assuming the best intentions and most careful planning, in practice, how much control will she actually end up having of, for instance, what other friends frequent the house during the day, and how they behave?

I don't see how it's stigmatizing to regard this as too much of a black-box situation for comfort. This is your toddler we're talking about; you don't owe it to anybody to place them in a doubtful situation just to prove to the world that you're a nice person. If the children stay solely in a separate daycare-only space, that might be a valid wait-and-see, but otherwise I'd look at other options.
posted by Bardolph at 6:01 PM on January 26, 2020 [18 favorites]

Based on the information presented in the question, I was genuinely perplexed that someone merely being bipolar would be enough to rule their presence around children a danger. It doesn't make sense to me because I grew up with two friends who are both bipolar and now have children. Both take medication and never showed any sign of wanting to hurt children, even when their illness first manifested. At the height of an episode, they were far more likely to hurt themselves. That is a concern, but I agree with others that a stigma against bipolar individuals is being unnecessarily perpetrated here.
posted by Crystal Fox at 6:12 PM on January 26, 2020 [14 favorites]

I agree with other folks who suggest asking your provider what her plan is for coping with emergencies of any sort. If there is one adult there and six toddlers and one of them needs to go to the ER (this happened to a grandkid at home), what is the plan?

Someone I love has bipolar disorder. I agree that the diagnosis is a red herring in some ways but not in all ways. I mean, the issue is the danger of divided attention on the part of the caretaker-parent. Let us pretend that this teenage boy was returning home after a summer camp for kids with diabetes, say. Or use your own example. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder how this super great and professional caretaker is planning to handle this transition involving the return of her son, who has a chronic illness.

So ask. Just ask. If the answers reassure you, then leave your toddler there and see how it goes. This teenager has an illness, not a criminal background. Please focus on the real issue when making your decision. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:28 PM on January 26, 2020

Mod note: We've deleted a few comments in here today, including a couple in the last little bit. There are elements of the original question here that I feel are coming from a place of significant ignorance about the details of mental illness; one of the key things Ask can do is help provide folks with context about the situations they ask about, and I appreciate folks who have done some educational pushback about those elements of the question. I hope that has been useful for both the asker and for readers, and that ultimately it's been the better option than nixing the question outright because of those issues. I'd ask that folks reading, and answering, take care to recognize the harm that reinforcing stigmatization of mental illness can do to folks living with mental illness, for whom this stuff is not an abstract or third-party concern.

For further answers in this thread, let's keep stuff focused more on the questions of communication with the daycare provider, and sorting out options or priorities in the broader scope of the question, and let any further long-distance analysis of or speculation about the daycare provider's son drop. No one is going to be in a position to assess any of those details from here and doing so speculatively has so far involved some ableist commentary that is at odds with MeFi's ongoing work to be a more inclusive and welcoming community space.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 PM on January 26, 2020 [16 favorites]

I don’t know the laws in California, but in most of the states I’ve researched this, in order to open a licensed daycare, every single person who will be living in the home has to have a background check. Whether or not this teenager would pass that check is something I can’t answer, but it’s worth looking into.

But as a parent of a mentally ill (grown, female) child who has never been dangerous in any way, I personally wouldn’t run a daycare in my home any longer if my child was moving back in, unless she had been 100% stable for several years. It’s not worth the risk to the toddlers. Hell, even from a selfish point of view, it’s not worth the risk of being sued if something did happen.

(The ADHD is not something to worry about at all.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:38 PM on January 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

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