It’s a fact: rates of ADD and ADHD have definitely increased. The CDC reports that “the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011”. [source: CDC]
Whether that is due to more awareness of the problem or some other, as yet undefined environmental or nutritional issue, who can say. Any way you slice it, though, the frustration for parents of ADD or ADHD ccan seem never-ending.
There are continuous battles with schools, insurance companies, doctors offices, pharmacies, and perhaps even within families. And then the endless Google searches, the ever-hopeful idea that the next diet or the next supplement may take away the suffering of our child.
Other strains play into family dynamics, too. You may feel as if you occasionally neglect your other children, as if they are sometimes left to fend for themselves on the homework front because of your struggles with one child. They may feel this, too, and act out in obvious (or not so obvious ways).
Living with a child who needs additional help can also put a strain on marriages, tending to put one parent in the role of caregiver or helper. Kids, in general, are hard enough on a marriage without adding the additional stresses – both financial and emotional – that a child with ADD or ADHD often brings.
We need to recognize that for parents whose children have been diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD, emotional support is very necessary as we attempt to raise our children with patience and love. Because it is not only the day to day frustrations that arise, but also the larger sense of worry that we might have.
- Do you sometimes feel a sense of guilt? As if you have somehow brought this upon your family or your child through (fill in the blank): upbringing, food, medicine, even an unhappy or difficult pregnancy?
- Do you wonder if you could have done something differently?
- Do you wonder if you have missed something? If there is some treatment out there that will cure everything – a magic pill, a new doctor, a doctor with a new theory?
- A small, niggling sense of shame? As if you are afraid to tell others lest they give their judgment or, heaven forbid, their opinion. (Yes, thank-you, we’ve tried the gluten-free diet).
- A yearning to talk to other parents about this, but not knowing the words or the way?
- Are you often worried that your child will not have the same life as other children? Or worried about their academic future?
- Do you feel guilty that your other children do not get quite as much of your time or attention?
These feelings are all very normal, and shared by many others.
There Is A Way To Change
It is helpful, though, to learn both acceptance and ways of changing our thought patterns. When dealing with our children a gentle, caring heart will go a long way towards easing their minds and our own.
We need to remind ourselves that it is just as frustrating for the child with ADD or ADHD as it is for us; they want to be able to sit still and do their homework (or clean their room, or pay attention), but they may not be able to do those things at that time.
As we attempt to change our thinking, moving from a place of frustration to one of patience, we might want to remember a time when our children were very young and needed our help to do simple tasks (getting dressed, being fed, being bathed). This helps us to think of them as more innocent and child-like.
We can also have a conversation with our children. Let them know that you would like to enter a new phase of parenting, one in which you are more patient and more loving. They may have some thoughts of their own.
And then, when homework times or other stressful times come up, practice being in that moment only, and perhaps finding a word or phrase that reminds you that this is only temporary.
Some Options To Try
Consider the following simple, useful guidelines. Remind yourself and reframe using trigger thoughts such as:
- I enjoy spending time with my child and helping with homework. We can always come back to something that is difficult.
- My child is a precious and loving being, and I am lucky to have been given the chance to raise him or her.
- Doing things together is fun and enjoyable.
It is in the moment that we have to practice our skills at being open and accepting, though. It is one thing to read this article and hear the message, quite another to put it into practice. It takes time and effort and may not always come naturally.
A supportive therapy practice can aid us here. A trained therapist will help to support our parenting goals and allow for more patience with our children.
Here at Nassau Guidance and Counseling, we have worked with many families and parents to find a supportive and caring solution for each person’s individual needs.
Our skilled and licensed therapists take the time to listen and, most importantly, to give the emotional support needed for a happy and thriving family.
An additional resource (not affiliated with Nassau Guidance):