When “Different” is the new “Normal”: Parenting with ADHD

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on Medium in March 2018. As I start this new blog adventure, I felt the few posts I wrote there would make sense to include here.

I don’t like problems I can’t fix. I don’t like things that I can’t change. I don’t like contributing to someone else’s failure. I don’t like giving up without a fight.

These are all challenges I’ve had to confront as I’ve come around to the ADHD of my kid. I can’t fix this. I can’t change this. I contribute to my kiddo’s struggles with my own failures. And I feel like admitting it’s real, is giving up the fight for normal. These are my struggles. And they weigh on me.

I don’t want my child to be different. I’m okay with different, if that means weird hair colors and a bombastic form of individuality (which is very much my kiddo’s personality). By “different” I mean, different in how learning happens in school. I don’t want my kiddo to be behind other classmates. I don’t want homework to be impossibly difficult. I want a kid that is “normal”. These are OKAY things to want as a parent. Who wants their child to struggle with school? And lately I’ve felt myself shutdown a bit, the feeling that any action I take will only make my kid feel worse, or make me feel worse, or both. So I’ve chosen inaction, which turned out to be, you guessed it, the worst choice of all. I am teaching myself that when you don’t know what to do, just stop trying to do anything. And that will get translated to my child, one way or another.

So here is my Truth. At least the one for today that hopefully re-ignites my engines. My kiddo has ADHD. That means things will be harder and more work will be required. That’s the easy Truth. Here’s the harder one. My kiddo doesn’t see things the way that I do. My child needs more time to process things than I do; needs space and time alone. Needs my patience more than needs my advice. Needs my silence as much as my voice. Needs me to be less worried in the moment we are in, and just be in the moment we are in. Needs me to be okay with being different. Needs me to not see my adoption of this attitude as giving up on a normal child. My kid needs me to be happy with life the way that it is (knowing life is always a transition from one thing to the next).

I think a lot about the world. I think a lot about how we go about our days. I believe that the main goal of our lives is to be better tomorrow than we were today. And I am starting to realize how my desperate need to have a “normal” child is holding me back from this ultimate goal. The only way I can be better tomorrow, is to start by being my best self today. And my kid doesn’t need anything more from me than my attention, my patience, and my time. And so tomorrow I will hopefully look back on today with happiness that I was my best self, and then set out to be even better in all the days ahead.

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