When life gets crazy in ADHD families, the natural tendency for some of us is to jump in and “take charge” - before things get out of hand or the situation gets the best of us. Some may call this being a control freak. This is a normal reaction, similar to putting your hands out to brace yourself when you are falling. The brain is calmed by an increased sense of control.
Even though it is a natural response, when the stress of our day-to-day lives increases, our desire for control can get exaggerated. Instead of just managing our own “stuff” or the really critical needs of the family, we tend to want to control everything (and everyone) around us (or at a bare minimum, our spouse and kids!). We all know how well that works. 😉 Being a control freak doesn't tend to work out well at all.
In the “Seven Habits” series by Stephen Covey, he talks about the circle of concern and the circle of influence. When we focus on areas of life that we are concerned about, but where we don't have control – like government, our neighbor's backyard, a critical boss or our spouse's attitude – our feelings of control decrease and we feel unbalanced. It can make every other area of our lives harder. On the other hand, when we focus on those areas where we can take action, our sense of stability and calm increase. And when we feel that sense of stability and calm, we feel better, and we can parent better.
So the next time you feel like things are getting “out of control,” pick one thing to act on (ideally, one that is yours to own). Let the feeling of accomplishment calm your inner control freak before it tries to take over the planet!