You probably know by now that I’m a woman with ADHD myself, as well as Mom to a young man with ADHD. Life as a woman with ADD has definitely had its share of struggles over the years, but the struggles I faced as a mom with ADHD to a child with ADHD made everything else pale in comparison at times!
One of the most unfortunate aspects of ADHD is its heritability– kids with ADHD tend to have a parent (or two) with ADHD! We know by now that what our kids with ADHD need most to function at their best is structure and consistency.
Herein lies the rub…
Structure and consistency are pretty universally among the things that are hardest for those of us with ADHD to implement on our own, let alone for someone else! Add to that the chaos that a kid with ADHD brings, along with a hefty dose of Mommy (or Daddy) guilt, and you can have a recipe for misery!
I remember thinking to myself,
How can I help this child if I can’t get it together myself?!”
I remember it like it was yesterday, and I hear it from clients all the time. Actually, I had a conversation yesterday with a mom who echoed that same sentiment. (Which was impetus for this post!)
“I know what to do, it’s not rocket science. Why is it so hard for me?”
Parenting any child is a tough job, but parenting a child with ADHD when you’re struggling with your own ADHD yourself can feel like drowning at sea with no life vest and no Coast Guard rescue in sight!
I hope you don’t mind a few words of advice from someone who’s been there, and helps other people get through every day. (And even if you do, here it comes anyway!) First and foremost…
Stop beating yourself up for what you are not doing well!
This typical ADD Self-Flagellation (as I call it) is not helping your child, and it’s not helping you move forward. More than likely, it’s keeping you stuck making the same mistakes, fighting the same battles, and feeling like you’re losing day after day after day. Most of the adults I work with beat themselves up for worse than what they deserve! We don’t do that with our kids, and we shouldn’t do it to ourselves. Do what the parenting experts tell us to do, but do it to yourself! Catch yourself being/doing good! Praise the positives (even if you don’t feel worthy at first) and notice the things you are doing well. Pay attention to what you’re good at! That’s often where I find the most potential in my clients for learning to do things in ways that work for them. They often don’t see what they’re already doing well at all or as anything “special” (because it’s easy for them), but that’s the key to learning to live well with your ADHD brain: learning to rely on your strengths and what you’re already doing well, and figuring out how to apply those strengths and successes to the areas where you’re challenged! It’s there. I promise! Sometimes you just have to dig for it a bit.
Start taking better care of yourself—in every way!
You can’t be the best parent/partner/friend/daughter/sibling/employee/whatever if you’re not taking care of YOU! Remember: you need to put on your own oxygen mask first, before you can help others. One of the simplest (not always easiest!) things you can do to better manage your ADHD challenges is to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself physically: getting regular and sufficient sleep, eating well, and exercising are fundamental to improving your functioning. It’s also important that you take better care of yourself on the INSIDE! I know it’s hard, but you really need to take time for yourself. (Taking better care of yourself gives you more energy and improves the quality of our time!) Take time for social connections (friends/family/a partner if you have one), spiritual connections, and reinvigorate an old hobby, or find a new one. Start doing things that feed your soul (so to speak) and help you get back in touch with who you are outside of your “mom” role. What a great thing to model for your child!
Make sure you are being properly treated for your ADHD by the Right Professionals!
Make sure you are being properly treated for your ADHD by the properly trained professionals who really understand ADHD brains and are current in their knowledge. Whether it’s physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, or coaches, making sure they understand ADHD is really important. (Not all ADHD professionals are created equally!) Also, while medication can be an important part of treatment for many of us (myself included!), we have an expression in coaching that says, “Pills don’t teach skills.” Medication may improve our focus and make it a bit easier, but we still need to do the work ourselves to learn to do things in new ways–ways that work for us and work with our brain wiring.
No matter how it looks, Nobody is perfect! I’m proud of what I’ve overcome and what I’ve achieved in life, but I’m certainly far from perfect! I have my share of slips and gaffes and I’ve sure had my share of ADD trials and tribulations. In fact, there’s no such thing as “Perfect”. Perfect is an illusion! Each one of us is a work in progress. That’s the nature of humanity. I think the best thing we can model for our children is letting them see us work on being better ourselves, and for a child with ADHD
What better gift can you give a child than to let that him/her see you get your own ADHD in order?!
I’ve gone on a bit of a rant here—sorry for the length!—but I hope there’s something here that’s helpful.
Hang in there! It can get better. I’ve been through it myself and come out the other side, so to speak, and I see clients do it every single day!