The Importance of Tears: Parenting with ADHD

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

For some reason that I can’t explain, tears seem to be important. Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow. Tears of remorse. Tears drawn from our laughter. Tears pulled from our pain. My life has been full of tears. I cry easily and at the most ridiculous things. An emotional manipulative car insurance commercial can get me. It always comes down to tears from one source or another.

As a Dad trying to figure out ADHD in my young kiddo, again tears seem important. But unlike all my other reasons for tears, something doesn’t click here. The other day my kid was really frustrating me. I can’t even remember exactly why. Probably related to our morning schedule and not getting up and moving fast enough. I finally had to put my foot down (not literally) to get the kid out of bed and up and running for the day. I was mad. My kiddo knew it. There was silence as we both got ready to head to school. In the car it was silent. All sorts of thoughts were screaming through my head. “Is this being taken seriously?” “Does my kid even feel bad for messing up the start of the day?” “Is there even a grasp of the idea of ‘starting on the wrong foot’?” And in silence we drove. In the past I would badger my kid with these questions. I’d use my “condescending parent voice” which is supposed to be full of knowing authority but really just makes you sound like an asshole. And almost always my child would break and there would be tears. And I would be satisfied, because in my mind tears meant the “lesson was learned”. Tears meant I’d made my point, stuck the landing, hit the target. Oh man, how wrong I was in that line of thinking.

On this drive I didn’t make the same mistake. I let the silence go on. And somehow in the midst of that silence I didn’t see a stubborn kid who needed to be “talked down to” by a parent. I didn’t see an oblivious kid who didn’t know what was wrong about that morning. What I saw was a kid sorting out the morning in their own time, in their own way. You see, my kid doesn’t need tears the way I do. And when the tears do come, they come for a better reason than an emotional commercial on television.

This is just another example of my attempts to be the parent my child needs me to be, which doesn’t always align with what I think I’m supposed to be. I have to know what makes my kid tick, not what makes me tick. And be a parent from that angle. I think too many times, we see the world through our own eyes, when we should try to see it through the eyes of our kiddos. And my child’s eyes are so much different from mine, and tears far less important. That doesn’t mean my kiddo doesn’t FEEL the same things I feel. It doesn’t mean that my kiddo doesn’t GET IT, when there’s a point to understand. Just that my kid processes things differently. More silently. Perhaps more thoughtfully. So I will keep trying my best to see things from this new viewpoint, and maybe tears won’t be so important anymore.

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