The Secret Struggles of an ADHD Parent

Dalene Reyburn wrote a blog a while ago.  The heading of the blog was: Dear Special Needs Parent: I see you … Those words hit me like a fist in the gut. Who knew? Someone sees me and acknowledges me.

Today I’d like to say: Dearest parent of your amazing ADHD child … I see you.  Why?  I am also like you.  I am tired and happy! Angry and frustrated.  Full of hope today and feel like I want crawl into a whole and die the next.  You are not alone!

My daughter has been diagnosed with Autism and my son with ADHD.  Even though Autism has a bundle of issues to handle daily.  Sometimes the ADHD part of our lives feel more challenging.  Challenging not because of all the differences our child has, but because of the similarities. A child with ADHD is not recognized quickly, he or she is only another boy or a girl in a group.  Our kids are therefore not seen as someone struggling with difficulties, but mostly seen for just being a very difficult, naughty, picky, over energetic, depressed, dreamy (And the list continues) …person.

Initially we try to educate people, family and friends to understand ADHD better.  We try to explain our children’s behavior, but then the energy and emotions start losing momentum.  You’ll explain if someone asks about it, but overall you start dealing with the judgment and stares in your own unique way.  You are built to survive.

Thank you for surviving!  You did not choose this challenge and journey.  It chose you.  Just keep on walking.  If you keep on walking somehow between tonight and tomorrow morning the impossible seems possible again, the pain not so painful. In the morning somehow your ability to fight for your child seems to reset.

Waking up without ADHD in your house is unfortunately not an option.  If initially you feel the very strong desire to ignore this thing until it disappears take heart, you are not a bad parent.  I think we all do denial at some level or at some stage in this journey.  Just try not to stay there.    It serves a purpose, I believe, but when left too long, denial can and will hurt your relationship with your child.

When we first received diagnoses, my knee jerk reaction was: “But why?”  The answers come packaged in neatly in gently rehearsed phrases like: “It has a strong genetic occurrence” or “There is no specific one cause”.  Then you have to deal with this reality: “Your child is struggling because of your genes”.  How do you deal with that? You either choose not to look at that reality, or you just feel lousy, guilty and failing terribly at parenting, just because of your genes…you didn’t even do anything yet.

To be totally honest, I have only been looking at the fact that: part of me contributed to the ADHD diagnoses…recently.  It is easier to deal with it when it is on the outside, almost easier to digest, because you can look at the “syndrome”.  You can examine it.  Only when you start to accept the reality that you might carry parts of ADHD, does it start to become a bit scary, but yet less intimidating. 

I am rambling on about your genes, because I believe that YOU were built to parent this child.  Nothing in them is so foreign that you cannot recognize him/her as your child.  Yes, at times it might seem like you received a wrong address child from another country, but if you look long and hard enough you’ll see it, and feel it. You will recognize her likes and dislikes, the way he butters his toast, the manner in which she sits at a table and remember you were made in the same factory.

You know how to help your child, look inside of you, and take advice from strangers.  There is many ways to kill a cat.  Keep on searching till you find that amazing spot of sun for your child.  He is fearfully and wonderfully made, God did not look away, His eyes were on her when she was formed.

The world would have been terribly boring if everyone fit the mold.  ADHD kids do not fit the mold.  They challenge, they excite and they scare the daylights out of any unsuspecting parent.  They are the colour in a black and white world.

Elsa Struwig (Owner, Elsa Struwig Centre for Trauma and Play Therapy) pointed out the following fantastic super powers of ADHD children.

If your child can understand it, encourage them with it.  Remind them, remind yourself.  The things that might get him in trouble today at school, might just be the exact same thing that opens a door to technological breakthrough tomorrow.

Here it is:

#1:  They have boundless energy!

People feed off energy.

#2:  Creativity comes easy

They make great artists, scientists and creative types.

Their brains are naturally interesting and inventive.

#3:  They think differently.

They might discover the creative solution that no one would ever think of.

#4: They have an amazing talent for detail.

They actually have the ability to focus, their focus looks different than it does in other people.

#5: They rock the things they are passionate about with hyper focus.

 #6: They have serious resilience.

Their talent for quickly shifting gears helps them stay resilient in life.

#7:  They are sensitive to others’ differences.

Since they are a little different and get what it’s like to feel this way, they understand when those around them could use a little empathy for their own unique characteristics.

#8:  They are spontaneous!

“Boring” is not a word that is usually applied to them. With a million ideas a minute, they are not willing to get mired down by routine.

#9. They are willing to take risks.

Taking risks is necessary for achieving big rewards – after all, one can only accomplish so much while staying in your comfort zone.

#10. They are enthusiastic!

Their boundless energy means they’re usually bursting with enthusiasm about the things that excite them. Is it better to go through life feeling super enthusiastic, or bored?

#11.   They have a world class imagination.

Many people with ADHD lead rich inner-lives, and are prone to long and deep daydreaming. They can use this imaginative talent to write incredible stories, dream up new inventions, or anything you want! The world is their oyster…

Can you see how positive this perspective is?  Congratulations! You are raising a super hero.

With great power comes great responsibility.

 

Written by Johanni Meiring

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