If you aren’t personally connected with an ADHD child, you might not have a realistic understanding of what their lives (or their parents’ lives) are like. And even if you do know one, you might be misinformed.
To better interact with special families like these, take a look at a few of these tips from an ADHD parent.
1. It’s not about discipline … Or lack thereof
Our son doesn’t bounce off the walls because we’ve encouraged it. And he doesn’t do it because we “let him run wild.” He does it because his body doesn’t know how to slow down and his mind can’t concentrate for more than a few seconds. No amount of discipline will make his ADHD go away.
That’s not to say he isn’t disciplined for wrongdoings. It just means we won’t be disciplining him for the things he can’t help.
2. Medication is not a magical cure and it’s not a requirement
A lot of people ask us what kind of medication Felix is on. They’re usually surprised when we tell them he’s not.
ADHD medication can be really beneficial to some people, but for others the side effects are worse than the disorder. Studies show that ADHD medication can alter a child’s personality, appetite, and physical health.
Plus, we understand that giving our child medication won’t suddenly turn him into an obedient, “normal” little human. We all have issues. We all have things we suck at. Even kids without ADHD struggle to pay attention and obey sometimes. Expecting some magical pill to come along and fairy-bop my kid on the head to make him “perfect” just isn’t realistic.
Besides … some of my favorite things about him are his idiosyncrasies. They’re what make him unique.
So unless my son’s ADHD begins to hinder him from living a capable life, medication isn’t the best option for us. For others, it is. But for us, it’s not. Not right now and hopefully not ever.
3. We are really, REALLY tired
Our kid doesn’t sleep. At least not as much as other kids do. And naps? Our child hasn’t napped since infancy, which means neither have we.
Try to be understanding of our exhaustion. Extend us some grace. We’re probably only acting like cracked-out circus clowns because we’re running on two hours of sleep and six cups of coffee for the twelfth day in a row. No one could do what we do and keep it all together.
4. Advice can be more hurtful than helpful
Chances are, we’ve already tried it. If we haven’t tried it, we’ve at least researched it. I love that people want to help (I really do), but being bombarded with a dozen new ideas every day is exhausting. It makes me feel like an inadequate mother and it constantly reminds me that there’s something “wrong” with my child.
Sometimes I just want people to tell me how awesome my kid is, instead of trying to fix him.
5. Nothing you say will convince me my son’s diagnosis was wrong
Saying, “He’s just a boy,” or, “It’s probably just a phase,” really isn’t helpful. It shows me you don’t understand what my son is going through and tells me you’re unwilling to become educated about it.
If you’re going to invalidate everything I say about ADHD, whether out loud or subconsciously, I won’t be able to talk to you about much of anything. Not only is that hurtful to me, but it also means you’ll miss out on a lot of really awesome stuff in his life.
6. We need safe people and places
It’s hard to be in public with an ADHD child. It’s frustrating for us and for our kids. What’s even more frustrating, though, is never getting to leave the house because people get overwhelmed by us. We need people to welcome us into their lives, in all our messy glory, and love us just the way we are. We need to just … exist … in places where we don’t feel judged.
There are a few people who love us this way, but we need more. All parents do.
7. We love our child just the way he is!
When we look at our fuzzy-haired little man, we don’t see a walking diagnosis. We see Felix. We see a heart that is tender beyond reason and a brain that notices everything in sight. We see the little boy who loves us to the end of the earth, and no “difference” about him will ever change how strongly we feel in return. He’s not a fractured version of a normal child. He was made in God’s image and he is perfect just the way he is.