When working with parents of children with ADHD I often get asked two questions that I put in the “not so helpful” category. These questions won’t help your children manage their diagnosis better, nor will they make your family run more smoothly in any way. Energetically, though, they will box you into a really negative framework, a way of looking at things that will make it more difficult for you to parent your children in a healthy way.
Two Questions to Stop Asking:
- Is it possible that because I wasn’t so patient, or I periodically spanked my child, or I yelled at them, or I looked at them cross-eyed, that I caused the ADHD?
Here’s my short answer: NO. Here’s the longer answer: no amount of good or bad parenting can cause or prevent ADHD. There are many parenting tools that will allow you to better parent your child and to improve your home situation. But there is absolutely nothing you have done that has caused your child to have ADHD.
Here’s what’s even worse about focusing on this concept. You are keeping yourself in a really miserable-blame-doom-and-gloom loop. When you stay focused on the past, beat up on yourself, and have little patience, it’s hard to be in the present. You actually use up precious emotional energy on all of the “wrong” things.
What’s the solution? Control what you can in the present, and let the rest go. It’s possible that some of your parenting in the past didn’t help the situation, but SO WHAT? Let it go. You can’t change that, so look at it for a minute, and then focus on doing something different and more beneficial, now and into the future.
2. Shouldn’t I feel guilty that someone in my family or I have ADHD and may have given it to my child?
Short answer again: NO. Here’s the longer response: do you feel guilty because your child has blue eyes or brown hair or is over 5 feet tall? If not, then why would you feel guilty about an ADHD diagnosis? We pass stuff on to our kids. Some of it is really good stuff, and some of it isn’t. But we can’t help what we pass on through genetics.
Not all cases of ADHD have a genetic link, but many of them do. Regardless of how your child developed ADHD, it isn’t worth your time to focus on. It is, however, worth your time to find ways to take care of yourself so that you can be a calmer more confident parent to your children, whether they have ADHD or not.
Quit Playing the Blame Game
Whether your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, or the common cold, you will be at your best if you take stock of the situation, figure out how you can help, and do just that. There is no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent; yet, all of your imperfections can be absolutely perfect if you let them be. Start with the present and look forward to a life of joy and challenges with your child. You can’t blame yourself for what’s about to happen. But when you get there, you can celebrate!