How I parent my ADHD kid
Being a mom is an amazing job that rocks and sucks.
Depending on the day. Depending on the kid. Depending on me. Standing your ground when your kid is screaming at you is hard. It is even harder when it happens a lot. Like A LOT.
Imagine this scenario:
I was standing in the middle of a football tournament with my 9-year-old screaming at me. He threw his water bottle at the fence. He was mad. REALLY mad. And he went from 0-100 in one short blink. People were looking at us (of which I was well aware) and avoided eye contact while walking by.
It was immensely frustrating, embarrassing, concerning.
I had two choices: 1) stand my ground, or 2) give in to him.
I though about it for a moment, It would be so easy to let him win and calm the storm. But I took pause, thought “Screw what people think!”, and I dug my heels in and held fast. And he learned a valuable lesson.
Of course, I don’t always stand my ground. I can be wishy-washy. I can be soft. Every situation is unique. It depends on who is there, if I have the strength to hold strong, and if the ensuing time and frustration outweighs the cons. It’s easier to give in. But giving in is often a disservice to him – and to me.
My youngest son has ADHD.
Some people think it’s overdiagnosed and just a popular label for kids who have too much energy and don’t focus well. I was in that narrow-minded camp before my boys came along. Now that I live it, I can honestly say that there is more involved here than just pent up energy. Many days are a challenge. Some parents and kids see my son as a pain in the ass because of it; most see him as an amazing soul, thank goodness.
ADHD means that he and I go head to head sometimes. There are days when I yell louder than him because it’s the only way that he can hear me and register my words. There are days when I have to walk away from him to keep the peace. There are days when I think he is extraordinary, kind, cozy, and flat out amazing.
ADHD is challenging to understand because my son does not “look different.” He just is different. The behavioural problem label makes it more difficult to educate the masses. There is so much more to it than a poor attitude. ADHD kids process things differently than most. My son, for instance, has no concept of time and likes to be involved with everything that is going on around him. He can be a bossy boots. He is also loving, very funny, super silly, and very stubborn. All of these parts make him into an amazing whole. Everyday I try to remind myself of all the good things, of the heart that he has.
At the football park last week, with the screaming and the throwing, I was pretty sure I knew what everyone else was thinking. It was probably judgemental: “Holy shit, look at that mom!” and “She can’t even control her own kid”. In fact, I heard a few of these oneliners out loud. That said, I’ve also received empathy and support. But thing is: I know my son. And I know me. And we’ve got this. We’re navigating the storm together.
Sometimes, I even encourage “bad behavior” – like letting him ride on the bottom of a grocery cart or run around in the store. He hears “No” and “Don’t do that!” enough in his day to day. He’s a kid. So I like to love him and let him be wild. I just let him be him. And for a few fleeting moments, he feels free.
We live in a world that is quick to judge – judge me, judge my kid, judge each other.
We both are doing the best we can. Some days are victories and others are gruesome defeats. So we celebrate the small wins alongside the big ones. I bake creampuffs – the boys new favourites – and we congratulate outselves on having great days.
My parenting mantra is simple: “Keep doing the best that I can”.