Parenting A Child with ADHD: 2 Steps to Lighten the Load

Parenting A Child with ADHD

Learn To Thrive

I am inspired by every opportunity I have to spend time with a group of parents who have a child with ADHD. Whether in person or on the phone, it's empowering to be among conscious people who are trying to do the best that they can support their child(ren), their families, their spouses, and themselves.

Recently, it was an ADHD support group. I was their guest facilitator, which was, quite truly, my honor.

These parents came together – some eagerly, some with hesitation – in search of connection, comfort, and content. They didn't know each other by name or by face, but they understood each other very well.

Throughout the evening, tears of sadness responded to the pain in their stories and their struggles; tears of joy helped them connect to the positive possibilities of raising fascinating and complex young people. The tears were for them and their children; they were for me and mine. Ours are not simple lives.

When I meet parents of ADHD kids, I encounter a depth of love and loyalty that is something like a mama bear. These parents – we parents – are tenacious. We are passionately committed to our children's success – often to the exclusion of our own health and wellness. (Redirecting that trend, by the way, inspired my work with parents of kids with complex needs and was Diane's and my original motivation for starting Impact Parents.)

Parents of kids with ADHD are trying to “figure it all out.” They are hard-working, diligent, resourceful, exhausted, overwhelmed, scared, committed, engaged, and so much more. They are more likely to sacrifice themselves than they are to go for an easy fix. They want help, and they want guidance. They want – desperately – for their children's happiness and success.

I was most moved that night by our group's thoughtful conversation about success. We talked about what success means and what happens to our kids when society tells us success should look a certain way.

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Together we identified two steps to lighten the load on our children with ADHD and on us as parents:

1) Reframe Success. Success is in the mind of the beholder. I challenged parents to redefine success in terms of what is beneficial for their kids. When we let go of our own (and others) preconceived notions, we can begin to create new expectations. When new dreams come from knowing our kids for who they are, rather than someone else's “shoulds,” it takes off the pressure and opens up a world of possibilities.

2) Identify Areas of Strength. ADHD coaching is all about playing to our strengths. When we focus on our successes, it breeds more strength and success. Similarly, with our kids, when we encourage them to pursue their passions, they find motivations that they can use to get themselves through inevitable hard times.

I asked the parents, regardless of their kids' age, to respond to the question: what is your child's gift? Each parent in the group shared the one great passion, gift, or talent s/he knows her child possesses. It was incredible for everyone to hear, and it helped to create new visions for success.

My job as a coach is to help parents remove their feelings of desperation so that they can help their kids without getting stuck. One powerful way that I do that is by enabling parents to talk to each other, mostly online and on the phone. For our kids to find their greatest success, we parents must stick together, remind each other of the successes and possibilities, let go of desperation, and encourage each other to enjoy the ride!

This week, whether it's on the phone or in person, start breaking down the barriers for yourself and your child(ren). Reach out. Talk about it. Cry and laugh about it. Identify successes. And don't let anyone tell you that you aren't doing enough. I know what you're doing. In my book, you deserve a medal of honor!

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