Collateral Beauty When You’re Parenting an ADHD Child

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting a friend and her family who now live in Colorado. We both grew up with a lot of turmoil, partly because of our parents’ personalities and behavior and, for me, partly because of having undiagnosed ADHD.

For those who don’t know: I was diagnosed – fortunately – in 1980 at age 23. I have to assume that I lucked out, finding someone who understood that ADHD could continue into adulthood, which was not the common belief at the time, and finding someone that understood that girls could also have ADD or ADHD. (Actually, it was called “Minimal Brain Dysfunction” when I was diagnosed).

Back to Colorado:

One afternoon, Kay and I watched the movie, “Collateral Beauty.” I won’t go into the plot of the movie (which was GREAT), but the idea of “collateral beauty” is that even in the midst of tragedy, it’s important to look for the beauty that may be unseen or hidden but does exist.

I said to my friend, “Our whole lives have been about the collateral beauty. Everything good in our lives has come from everything bad.” And we sobbed our way through the whole dang movie.

Collateral beauty is an awesome consolation prize, but it’s not the goal

Collateral beauty, like collateral damage, comes from tragedy. It will come when your body hurts or when your heart hurts. You will be lead to it by a DUI or a bum knee, a failing grade, the death of a loved one, or being fired from your job. Its job is to console us (as in consolation prize). I’m not so sure that it should be our parenting goal.

Stay real, stay present, stay in your heart

Instead, let’s make our goal the enjoyment of every bit of love that we have at hand, whatever that looks like. Focus on the love – that’s collateral beauty that we don’t have to suffer for.

When your child fails a test and falls into your arms, crying. Stay right there. Forget about the grade and what it MIGHT mean for your child’s future. Stay with the love. When the doctor informs you that another of your children has ADHD, forget about how hard his/her future MIGHT be. Feel how much you love him/her and know that you have been given an opportunity to become more YOU than you ever thought possible. And it’s the same for your child. When another parent labels your child “incorrigible” or “annoying” or “defiant,” remember that plenty of people with ADHD have been called the same things. We don’t always fit in, but we can learn to fit in and still stand out. Focus on that, the potential for greatness.

Raising a healthy ADHD child is a reaching out for help

The way to raise a healthy ADHD child is not to create the right scenario at school, or to make the school address your child’s needs, or to get people to listen to you, or to get the kids to the gym, or to get them off screens. To be sure, these things can help, but what if you can’t affect change in these areas? There’s still something more powerful that you can do – something you do have some control over.

The way to raise a healthy child is to make sure that you, yourself, are as healthy as you can be. Are you as loving as you could be, or is there something blocking your heart? Are you as fit as you could be, or are your fitness goals unrealistic (or non-existent)? Are you as brave as you could be, or are you afraid of things that haven’t happened yet and that are not imminent? Are you parenting from fear, either over-protecting or over-controlling (often the same thing!) Are you creating obstacles for yourself?

Big dreams make you bold

What I’ve learned from the hardest times in my life (and even the not-so-hard times) is that I cannot handle life on my own. I need help, and I’m okay with that. My dreams are big and big dreamers need support. But, when I am bold, I get what I need. When I can walk up to a friend or colleague and ask, “Do you know someone who can help me?” I get what I need. And you can dream big too. And you can be bold too, for love.

Remember that your children learn from you, whether we want to admit this or not. Your perfect little bundle of joy is fragile and maleable. It is natural to worry about him or her, but it is detrimental to worry about things outside your purview when you have plenty to work on right at home, inside you. If you’re going to focus on the future, why not create a beautiful one instead of a catastrophic one?

Let loose with all the love and joy in your heart before some tragedy hits and you actually have to look for the collateral beauty.

Here’s some musical inspiration for those times that require boldness:






Copyright 2018 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved


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