I have decided to switch my focus to helping parents of children with ADHD. I will still be supporting adults with ADHD 1-1 and you can still schedule those consults, but I believe that if we are going to make true change more globally with ADHD, it starts at home with parents. It starts with understanding your child better, but also understanding yourself better so you can be the best parent your child needs. It is hard work, I get it, my husband and I are working on this self-management piece now before we have kids in hopes it will help. You may be thinking why would someone without kids, help with parenting? I was an ADHD child, and with a mother that new the most recent information at the time. And she will tell you that if she had the knowledge then that she does now, it would have changed things. She can't go back in time, but I can help other parents learn how to best help their children.
Dr. William Dodson believes that a child with ADHD receives 20,000 times more negative messages from parents, teachers, and authority figures by the age of 12 than that of their siblings and friends that do not have ADHD (see here). That staggering reality shows that we are failing our children with ADHD. Not on purpose, because raising ADHD children is hard. I lost expensive coats and even glasses (THAT WERE ON MY FACE) when I was a kid. That is hard on parents on top of all the fighting they have to do just to get their kid to clean their room. My mom's rule was that we didn't leave the room until it was clean. That meant no food, no outside, no tv (we only had the one in the living room), etc. She would get so frustrated with me because it would literally take me all day. I would find things I hadn't seen in a while and get distracted with playing with them, I would lay on my bed crying from all the overwhelm, take a nap because I was exhausted from the emotional roller coaster, and then finally wake up and get it done in less than 30 min. My mother told me in adulthood that she finally learned that she had to let go of how she would want to do it and just let me do my thing because I wasn't getting any luxuries until it was done and that was my choice. Ha! I know I was a difficult child. I made my mom and grandma both fall while carrying my brother because I was in my own little world not realizing what was going on around me. Grandma still has a bent pinky from where it got broken...oops.
So what do you do as a parent? I still haven't gotten to that part...well, stick around, I will start working on consistent content that is geared toward what parenting an ADHD child can be. We know the brain develops from the brain stem to the Pre-frontal cortex (back to front) with the pre-frontal cortex being the last to fully develop by the age of 25-28. The Prefrontal cortex is where executive function is stored. So, half the time when you are frustrated with your child, it is because their brain literally doesn't have what it needs. There is some research to support that teaching your child how to manage those executive function issues as their brain is developing can help the development of those executive functions into adulthood in a positive way. Essentially you are helping your child's brain make connections as it is growing...isn't that cool. The Executive Function is where impulse control, consequences, time management and many more things are so helping your child learn how to deal with these things now can set them up for success later on. You may be thinking, that sounds like a lot of work....well, it is. You need to be sure you have a set time to schedule taking care of you some how in order to have the capacity of selflessness to help your child manage their ADHD. Make time for yourself so you can more easily get out of your own way and be present in dealing with your child's ADHD.
There are 2 verses that come to mind that I think go along with this idea. The first is "Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39" remember to start talking to yourself the way you would someone else, and by that I mean would you call someone else (to their face mind you) that they are a terrible parent? No, you wouldn't so start loving yourself better in the way you speak to yourself and making time to take care of your emotional needs. I have heard it said, how can you love others if you don't love yourself? I don't like that phrasing, my conviction is to imagine how much more you could love others (your difficult child) if you loved yourself better. This verse also comes after the first and greatest commandment being to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind." It is my belief that the more time you spend with the Lord and the more space you make for just time with Him, the better you will be at loving yourself. This is the best form of self care and training up your children - which leads me to the 2nd verse I mentioned. The second verse would be to "train up a child in the way he should go and he will not stray far from it when he is older. Proverbs 22:6" I wonder if God was also meaning that because He created the brain to develop from back to front and your training up your child is also partly giving them tools and teaching them how to handle situations so that when they are an adult their brain has those connections to refer to. Just some food for thought. Pray about the kind of parent God is calling you to be, where you may be holding on to ideas and beliefs that are hindering your ability to parent each individual child the way they need, and rules that you need to break in your mind that aren't actually helpful to you and your family.
Feel free to comment with those things that God is showing you. Until next time friends...