When my son was a teen, he and I attended the national ADHDAware event; a “leadership” summit. Being surrounded by a large group of parents and kids managing life with ADHD made me think about leadership from a new perspective. At the time I wondered, is my 13 year old son really a leader? My first response was, “Of course he is!” But the next question comes: "How is he a leader?" He is challenged with distractibility, organization, social skills, focus…
So what is leadership? Here's one definition:
- Motivating and inspiring others (and yourself) to take positive, purposeful action and achieve success.
Thriving Amidst Adversity
*Motivation? That takes executive function, so it's not often a verb that we associate with our kids. Here's the thing. Their brains don't naturally motivate, and they still get a lot accomplished. Every day. Imagine what it would be like to try to follow a recipe if you didn't know how to read. That's what our kids are up against. Every day! Forward movement, in the midst of that, at any level, is leadership!
But our kids don't just survive – there are aspects of their lives where they thrive. Each kid at the summit was asked to create a video with the title, “I have ADHD and I can…” It was easy for them to identify what they are good at, and wonderful to hear them brag about it. We often are so focused on their challenges, it's easy to lose focus on what's really important: all the great stuff they can do, and do really well! Our kids have so many strengths, and are absolutely leaders!
Kids Will Inspire If You Pay Attention
If you pay attention to all our kids accomplish, in spite of their challenges, it can be truly inspiring and motivating, a clear act of leadership. In fact, it was part of what motivated me to work with Elaine to create ImpactParents. These kids definitively:
- Inspire their parents to take action, finding solutions, alternatives and support for themselves and their kids.
- Inspire professionals to find larger scale solutions and answers to support the broader ADHD community.
Our kids are leaders, in their lives, in their schools, in their communities, and in the ADHD world. Here are two simple things you can do to help them fulfill this role:
- Celebrate their successes: Notice their accomplishments. Catch them being “good.” Find things to brag about to your friends and family members. Success breeds success, so jump up and down and do a happy dance when the achievements happen!
- Let Yourself Be inspired: Challenge yourself to take inspired action as a result of your role as an ADHD parent. Be a leader yourself! Maybe it's doing something to educate teachers or other community members on ADHD. Perhaps it's celebrating all you do as an ADHD parent, or recognizing another parent who needs encouragement. Possibly it's simply taking better care of yourself, or getting support for yourself like you are doing right now.
Whatever you choose to do or not do, my wish for you is that you see our kids for what they are: leaders in their own lives, and in the world. Lead on!