First, I want to be very clear: This article was written in French by my friend Eloïse Beaulé from “FamilleTDAH,” a French-Canadian blog that talks about the daily life of a family with three children affected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s an incredible resource for people who have to live with the condition, and if you can read French, I strongly recommend that you check it out.
I offered Eloïse to fully translate her article because I know for a fact that many readers of Geeks Are Sexy have children that are affected by ADHD. My older son has the disorder, so this is an issue that is very important to me, as well.
Please note, I translated this using the masculine form (with my son in mind,) but it applies to both gender.
That’s it; the axe just fell. You learned that your child suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Or maybe you’re already aware of it and have been doing the best you can so that your kid can live with the condition with minimal impacts on his or her life. With this in mind, here are 85 things that almost no one mentions when it comes to being the parent of a child with ADHD.
85 Things that No One Talks About When It Comes to Raising a Child with ADHD
- People do not understand what ADHD really means
ADHD is not related to the personality of an individual; it’s a neurobehavioral problem.
- You can love your child but still be exhausted and exasperated
A kid with ADHD will keep on forgetting his homework, lunch box, and the nice expensive vest you just bought him, even though you keep on reminding him about those things over and over again.
- It’s ok to be angry!
Each day is just like Groundhog Day — same problems, different day. You are a human being, after all!
- You could be feeling very alone
Dear friends, living with a child afflicted with ADHD does not mean you need to isolate yourself and for those who know families living with the issue, please do not keep them at bay!
- Yes, you will be judged
This is why it’s important to surround yourself with people who understand you and who accept your child as he is.
- Several ADHD kids have other problems
Whether we’re talking about learning issues, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, or problems in the autism spectrum, all these things can be tagged to an ADHD diagnostic.
- A lot of people do not think ADHD actually exists
“Eating right and doing your job as a parent is enough to cure ADHD.” Of course! And everyone knows that our planet is flat and vaccines are bad for you.
- Some people will question you about your eating habits
Does he eat gluten? Take Omega-3 supplements? Or maybe dairy products are the problem?
- Some will question the time your child spends in front of a screen
The television, computer, tablet…these are the culprits!
- People will ask you if doing more sports could help him
Yes, and that’s on top of the swimming, karate, soccer, and dance classes he’s been taking!
- He is only a child after all. All he needs is to move more!
Of course! Why didn’t I think of that myself?
- You will become the king/queen of anticipation
An ADHD kid + meal + fun restaurant + quick service = Good family times.
- But sometimes, you won’t be able to anticipate
An ADHD kid + hunger + quiet restaurant + long waiting time = you will lose your head, and your child might lose his as well.
- Having a sense of humor is of utmost importance!
If you don’t laugh, you will cry. Laughing is better.
- Everyone has an opinion on ADHD medications, and they’re not afraid to share it!
Is he taking any meds? Ritalin, right? Doesn’t it worry you? Have you tried homeopathy? Omega-3 supplements?
- If your child takes ADHD medication, you will question your decision to give him those drugs
Will it affect his growth? His sleep? Will he become addicted to the drug?
- If you do not give ADHD meds to your child, you will ask yourself if you should
Will he become a delinquent, a drop-out, or a drug addict if I don’t do it?
- You will worry that some people will put a “label” on him
“He’s a little brat!” “A problematic child!”
- You will worry that no one truly understands him
“He’s not trying hard enough!” “He’s lazy!” “He’s not paying enough attention!”
- Before putting him on ADHD meds, you will try all available natural supplements
LT03, Omega-3, and other supplements, you’ll try them all…and finally end up choosing an ADHD medication.
- You will love or hate his doctor
Everything will depend on how your child feels (if the “right” molecule was given to him) and the time it’ll take for his doctor to call you back or give you an appointment.
- You will love or hate his school
Everything will depend on how your child feels and how many calls/notes you’ll get from his teacher.
- You will quickly realize that listening to instructions is a luxury
Both for yourself and for other adults who will need to tell your child what he needs to do.
- You will ask yourself if your kid suffers from Alzheimer
Nope, he doesn’t have it, even though he just forgot what you told him 10 seconds ago.
- You will ask yourself if your kid is narcissistic
ADHD kids are super focused on what they want and need. Just imagine him as the world’s most effective litigant. You’ll feel better.
- You will be pushed to the limits of human endurance
You’ll search Google for “military school” and will seriously consider sending your child there.
- Your heart will open up
You will become a more invested and compassionate person. This is what seeing your child struggle and persevere will do to you.
- Your nails will become longer and stronger
- You will develop many new abilities
Intervention plans, neuropsychological evaluations, and behavioral assessments…you will learn all about them!
- You will be jealous
Why does everyone else have normal kids? Don’t do that. Comparison = despair.
- You will acquire a lot of knowledge from the world of pharmacology and medicine (without being a doctor)
Molecules, side effects, and Methylphenidate…you’ll know all about them!
- You will become grateful
You will forever be grateful to the parents, teachers, and kids who show some compassion to your child and take some time to interact/play with him/her. You will never forget them.
- You will learn to let it all go.
But if you can’t, a glass of wine will surely help.
- You will need to suppress your tears
“Mommy, why did you choose to have me?” “I would have preferred to never have been born.” “I bet you wish I was normal like everyone else.” “Mommy, I want to die. Life is too difficult.”
- You will learn how to breathe better
Patience is a virtue that can be learned. Taking a deep breath is better than exploding in rage.
- You will need help
Face it: Everything is easier when there are people to help you.
- You will feel like a parakeet
You will repeat the same things at least 50 times per day, you will repeat the same things at least 50 times per day, you will repeat the same things at least 50 times per day.
- You will learn to live in the moment
People have this really bad habit of living in the future or the past. The actual moment is often forgotten and when you live in it, small victories suddenly become huge!
- You’ll quickly learn that a regular squabble between brothers and/or sisters is not something to worry about
However, a squabble between a child with ADHD and one without will be much, much worse.
- It will be hard on you as a couple
Being burdened by the role of parents at 150% doesn’t leave you much time for you as a couple. Be sure to take some quality time with your significant other as often as you can!
- The only easy day will be yesterday
Since you are living in the moment, you might as well get used to it.
- You will ask yourself if there’s anyone who can take care of you when things get difficult
You will need to learn about taking care of yourself, because there’s probably no one that will do it for you.
- Be sure to sharpen your pens, because you’ll need them, especially when it comes to doing homework
Arm yourself with patience, as homework time could become long and painful.
- You will learn how to close your eyes and stop listening
This is better than listening to all the expert advice everyone has around you on how you should raise YOUR kids.
- You will probably cry from exhaustion, rage, and frustration. Oh, and also despair and discouragement.
Yes, but I don’t want to discourage you further.
- You will learn about trusting yourself
You are the master aboard your ship. You know what needs to be done in case of an emergency.
- Your kids will have unique talents
Sometimes marvelous, sometimes complicated, but unique is always amazing!
- Your kids will surprise you!
Yes, they are unpredictable, but often also so surprising! A small victory will make your day!
- Have some time for yourself
A parent is at his best when he slept well and is in a good mood. Be sure to fill up your reserves!
- Everyone walks their own road
It’s often bumpy, but unique for yourself and your children. Comparisons are useless.
- You will learn that a smile or a look can erase all stupidities
You will fall under their charm, guaranteed!
- Sometime, you need to to go back a few steps to then sprint ahead
Sometimes, we take three steps back and then take one ahead and we rejoice for the victory.
- You will be envious of his determination, courage and strength
ADHD kids have great strengths. Don’t even think about reaching their level of resilience when they have their minds on something.
- The word “stress” will stop having the same meaning, especially if it touches your child
Being stressed yourself is already difficult to manage, but when your child is affected, it’s even worse! You’ll be in pain for him.
- You will learn to see with his eyes, but this will not be tomorrow
Each day you will understand him more and more, but it’ll take time.
- Your mornings will be like what Vietnam was in time of war
Yes, it will be the most difficult time of the day. Disorganization, screams, cries, and more!
- You will learn that respect also needs to be taught to adults
People will disrespect you a lot by judging you in your task as a parent.
- You will learn and learn each and every day!
Attention deficit disorder is often accompanied by several unwanted friends. In addition to the disorder, you will also learn a lot about these friends and their interactions with ADHD.
- You will discover that patience is an imperishable treasure!
You will find that there are plenty of hidden caches of patience inside you, even if you’re often in doubt about them.
- Communicate – Accept – Intervene
If you can’t, you cry, you live the situation alone, and you see your family life descend into chaos.
- You will learn to dissociate yourself from the conduct of your child
No need to feel guilty; you did not raise him that way.
- You will become a skilled strategist
You can do it! You have the wisdom of a sage… and a few decades of experience in front of you — and in front of him!
- “Support and encourage” will become your new motto
Later, you will need to work on the same motto, but applied to you. On whom can you rely to support and encourage you as a parent?
- A learning disability does not necessarily come with the diagnostic
Your kid might be a genius and the first of his class.
- You will not be able to control everything
Better learn to “let it go.”
- Melatonin is a fantastic tool, if used properly
Yes, it will allow your child to sleep (if used properly.)
- A special education teacher sleeps in you
Time timer, disco sit, and other sensory tools, you’ll know all about them!
- Google will become your obsession
You will become an expert “Googler” and learn to find what is right and wrong on the Internet.
- A healthy life hygiene is of utmost importance
Chips + chocolate at 10PM = catastrophe.
- Lower your expectations
It won’t hurt as much. No one is perfect.
- Yes, having a routine is very, very important
If you never liked routine, you’ll learn to love it. Your sanity depends on it.
- Learn to unlearn
You do not raise a child with ADHD like you raise a neurotypical child, so let everyone know!
- Your child cannot adapt himself
Society cannot adapt itself to him. People that are different often have problems fitting in our society.
- Discouragement is a road that leads nowhere
Do not let him discourage you.
- Do not seek the enemy
- You will appreciate some seasons better than others
No school = No homework, no worry, and no comments from his teachers.
- Wine will become your friend.
Yes, a glass of wine might help you go through your day.
- You may be afflicted by ADHD yourself
ADHD is primarily of genetic origins; who gave it to your child?
- It could be worse
Oppositional defiant disorder, Tourette syndrome, and autism spectrum disorders make everything more complicated.
- Be positive!
Positive reinforcement, positive interactions, and positive time with your child are the best guarantees of success.
- What a challenge!
- You will become thrifty
You will need a lot of money to pay for all these meds and specialists.
- Do not think about receiving public services too much (at least here in Quebec)
Even if you’ve been paying taxes for ages, your child will be 15 before he gets a diagnosis from the public system or they might wait until he fails in all his classes to do something.
- Do not rely on your school
Most schools are not adapted to help you, but if they can, take advantage of it!
- Choose your own battles.
Be strategic, consistent with your values, and let go of what is not important.
I wrote this list so that people can learn more about what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ) truly is and understand what parents that live with kids with the condition have to go through. Some people seem to think that medication is the easy path, but as you can observe in the list above, it clearly is not.