How Open Should You Be About Your Child’s ADHD?

So I decided to finally have an ADHD discussion.  There is a reason I have avoided them.  I’m not sure how appropriate it is to make my children’s challenges public, but believe me, we are having them.  It’s confusing because there are benefits to openness.  Hearing others’ challenges will help you realize you’re not alone and sharing your own challenges with others will help you get more support.

But often we don’t get more understanding or support, but we get judgment.  People are quick to offer suggestions, but I sometimes feel like they are thinly veiled criticisms of what I am doing wrong.  Another challenge I run into is that many people think that ADHD is overly diagnosed or not even a really condition at all.  Many people believe that ADHD just describes normal active children.  They’ll say things like, “Yeah, my kids were hyper too.  They played outside a lot.”  For these reasons, I have learned to not bring it up.  But it gets lonely.

Perhaps the issue is that as mothers, we are so sensitive about our jobs.  We’re not getting promotions, raises, or stimulating projects that will be completed in two months.  We really don’t know how we are doing, and when our children give us job performance reviews, they’re not too positive.  “You are so unfair!  ALL the kids in the neighborhood get to play M (mature) video games.”  Sometimes people may not mean any unkindness at all, but we take it that way because we’re already doubtful about our “performance.”  It’s hard to be open to suggestions sometimes, but many are truly helpful if we can be humble enough to listen.  But it’s not easy.

Still, I think that we do need to connect with others that are facing the same challenges.  I have an aunt that has an ADHD son.  We have compared notes.  It’s uncanny how similar our challenges are.  One time our discussion got more and more intense as we told so many parallel stories.  It increased my understanding and helped me realize that there was ADHD and then there was my son.  The best thing she said to me though (as she said in tears), was “No one understands.  No one gets it unless they have an ADHD child of their own.”

That being said, my aunt is one of the most positive, busy, can do people I know.  That also gives me strength.  If you cry sometimes, that doesn’t mean you are weak.  It’s also helped me learn to not jump to conclusions about others either.  You never really know what’s truly going on, and there’s probably a reason why they’re not telling you.  People can smell judgment from miles away.

My mother hasn’t had the same challenges I have, but I do feel like she tries to understand.  She asks me questions and listens and offers to help me.  From her, I’ve learned that even if you don’t have the same problem as somebody else does, if you genuine care and listen, you can still help.

I recently had a difficult and tearful Sunday morning as I tried to get the children ready for church.  My husband had to be to other meetings early so he wasn’t able to help.  We got to church forty-five minutes late, and there was no room in the chapel for us to sit.  We sat out in the foyer.  Another lady was sitting out there with her three boys.  She’s single.  She had a tough morning too.  Even though the nature of our challenges was different, I felt a connection with her as I realized that while both of our mornings were really tough, we still got to church.  I saw her in a different light after that.  I felt more compassion for her and less judgment.  Hopefully, we can become closer friends, and we will learn to trust each other enough to share and support.  That would be nice.

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5 comments

  1. IT helps my kids cousin understand why she acts the way she does sometimes. Good to discuss. But not everyone has to know is my opinion too.

  2. Well, I don’t know a whole lot about ADHD, but I think being open about it and discussing it with other people you feel comfotable with (family and close friends) will only help educate and increase their understanding, while lessening the judging that you are worried about. The more people know about it the less judgmental/ignorant they’ll be about it.
    If you want tips you could talk to Ben’s parents. They are so kind and patient and they had a son who had ADHD.. it was so bad he actually got EXPELLED from preschool. Yeah, expelled. Ben’s dad is the most patient person I know and I guess he was the only one that had the patience to handle him. But the good news is that she told me a lot of kids outgrow it when the become adolescents. IT doesn’t mean they have to have ADHD their whole lives.
    By the way, when are you going to do all your food postings? I was excited to get some good tips/recipes from you!

  3. Beck,

    This is a great post. Many people judge without really noticing, including myself. I used to and still do at times formulate unfair opinions very quickly of other people and what they are doing. Of course I never know the situation, just go on to quickly judge. One of Amber’s great gifts is her listening skills. I am amazed at how she listens to understand. This entry makes me re-focus on listening to understand and not judging. Thanks Beck!

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