Being a mom has been the single most difficult job in my life. Being a wife is hard too, but being a mom can sometimes mean making decisions I don’t want to make. Finding ways to answer questions or come up with creative way to get our children to eat.
But the hardest thing I think I have ever had to come to terms with has been the ADHD diagnosis with Silas (and now Daddy).
I still think ADHD is often misdiagnosed in most cases. I think there are a lot of pediatricians out there that cater to moms and dads who want to medicate their child because they fail at disciplining their child. I also think there are families like ours where medication is such a turn-off but in so many cases…necessary, too.
The stigma and judgment we get from other parents (or heck, even people without kids), is mind boggling. Suddenly, everyone is a doctor, a dietician, a psychologist, a friend, a teacher…whatever. Never mind that we already have a team of doctors, counselors, psychologists, teachers, friends and more. (Oh, we don’t have a dietician yet. That spot is still open if you’re qualified!)
ADHD is so much more than a label. Did you know it’s actually a neurological disorder? Imagine that.
That means that despite your best intent, spanking my child isn’t going to help him stop running in circles. Putting him in time-out isn’t going to be beneficial. And more than likely, you’ll go crazy first because he won’t sit still anyway. Changing diet helps some, but let’s face it. He’s a kid. He’s not going to drink shakes or eat lean protein and brussel sprouts for every meal. He loves Kraft mac and cheese, pizza, and orange juice.
He’s. A. Kid.
Glaring at me won’t work either. I’ve become immune to the “judgy parental laser death stare.” And I’ve also got an ice cold shoulder when you give me that “why don’t you take him outside” look, too.
But hey, I’m not all cold shoulder. There are things you can do to help!
1. Recognize that ADHD is difficult for my six year old to understand. Yes, we talk to him. But, he’s 6. Sometimes, words that contain the word “brain” don’t compute yet. Also, unless it has the word “zombies” or “Star Wars” in it, he probably isn’t paying attention anyway.
2. Ask questions. He will talk to you. I will talk to you. I’ll probably talk your head off, but I’ll tell you anything you want to know. And if I don’t know, I’ll ask and find out!
3. Forgive his shortcomings. Listen, it’s gonna happen. He’s gonna overstep. He’s gonna lie. He’s gonna forget. He’s gonna get squirrelly and not be able to complete a task. Please be patient.
4. Talk to him. Notice I didn’t say “talk at him.” Don’t converse with him like an adult. Small sentences. Have him repeat. Don’t yammer off 10 sentences and then ask if he understands. I guarantee you, he heard the last 5 word and will say, “yes.” Why? Because his mind is already off doing something else.
5. Partner with him. Believe it or not, he’s a really smart kid. He’s got a whole noggin full of intelligent things up there. Get on his level and talk to him. You’ll be surprised what you could learn, too.
6. Wait patiently. Truth? Meds wear off. And when he comes crashing off them, it comes at full force. Anger, sadness, confusion, frustration…it takes about 30 minutes and when it hits, it hits. Love him through it. And repeat the above lessons. He’s in there. I promise. You just gotta wait.
Good luck to all you mamas and daddies dealing with your kiddo (or spouse) with this. It’s a big deal. It’s not just something they can “get over.”
Love them through it. Recognize the pain they go through and always keep communicating!