Love Letter to Parents of ADHD Kids
This isn’t a marketing letter. This is a love letter.
I woke up this morning filled with love (yes, LOVE!) for you all. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you personally because I know you in a different way – we are all part of an ADHD revolution, a celebration of our children, a family of passionate, tireless (and yet exhausted!) crusaders, aching to show the world that our children matter and should not/cannot/will not be ignored.
And I love you because your struggles were my parents’ struggles. And I do what I do so that no family has to suffer as much as my family suffered. We were disconnected, resentful, disappointed, and angry. We felt betrayed by each other, betrayed by ourselves, and betrayed by God. I know that feeling. I remember that feeling.
It is exhausting being a special needs kid – the amount of energy it takes to try to fit in and look like everyone else is overwhelming. It is exhausting parenting special needs kids. Sometimes it’s just the sheer effort it takes to explain something to a teacher or a therapist. Sometimes it’s figuring out how to make a healthy meal that will actually be eaten. Sometimes it’s trying to word a comment in just such a way that it won’t create a meltdown or trigger a panic attack.
I want so much more for you.
So this is not a marketing letter. This is not advice. This is a promise, a blessing, a cheer. What I want for your family is to restore your dream of a loving, supportive, rollicking family. Sure, it’s not totally realistic; life happens. But it can be waaaaay better. “Way better” can be your reality.
Check this out:
*1. You can make predictions but predictions aren’t fact, even if they’re based on fact. Predictions are about events that haven’t happened yet.
You may be able to predict how your child will do on an upcoming test, something in the near future, but leave your heart open for the unexpected. Life is constantly offering us reprieves, grace, gifts, and second chances. The trick is to see these opportunities when they present themselves.
Know that your predictions aren’t reality. Predictions are like fortune-telling. You’re using your perception to assume things about the future. They may make sense and be logical but there’s one thing missing – you don’t know the future.
So if you’re going to make up a story, why not make up a good story? Predict success. Assume that luck or providence or God or good fortune or a great teacher or someone else your child hasn’t met yet will shine down on your child with love and support and courage and confidence. This will do much more for your sanity and for your child’s well-being than predicting failure, inadequacy, and disappointment.
*2. By definition, late bloomers bloom later. Your children aren’t non-bloomers; they’re late bloomers. Helping your ADHD child while he/she is still a child/teen will show results for sure.
Your child has his or her own timeline. Everyone’s child has a timeline that, if you compare it to the timelines of others, will look more or less impressive. Some kids read at age 3, some at age 7. Some kids speak fluently at age 2, some not til age 4 or 5. Some kids can handle finances at age 14, some not til they’re 21 or even 30!
Late bloomers can be productive members of society. In fact, in some ways they’re already productive. Remember that the main “system” that’s judging your child is the educational system and it’s not designed for ADHD kids unless your child feels a sense of belonging in an intellectual environment where producing intellectual work makes him or her feel valuable. I was like that, but not every smart child likes that environment.
So one way to help your late bloomer is to give him or her a sense of belonging, where exploration and independent thought is valued and celebrated. If your child feels valued beyond what the school system dictates, your child will feel motivated to learn new things. If your child feels that you value homework completion and good grades above independent inquiry and curiosity, your child will feel demotivated. It’s just that simple.
*3. There is nothing wrong with your child.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: Your child may be different from the majority of other children but great people are different. They see more, see further, hurt more, love more, and can endure more. Your child’s behavior when stressed is not your child. Let me explain:
The Mona Lisa, if it were damaged with spray paint, would still be the Mona Lisa underneath. Some people would say it’s ruined, but expert restorers can remove the spray paint to reveal its beauty once again. Your beautiful child has been “spray-painted” by thoughtless people, repeating comments about being lazy or selfish or stupid. This may have covered up your child’s beauty, but it’s still there.
As our children get older, the “grays” of life affect them. As their minds begin to understand abstractions and nuances and limitations and qualities of experience, navigating the world is more confusing. Now they feel vulnerable more often and may, often, try to protect themselves in clumsy ways – yelling, stomping around the house, throwing things, insulting us. But here’s the cool thing: just like when they were babies, your love is healing for them.
Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. Not approving of everything they’re doing, but accepting it as who they are right now – today, this week, this year. Not worrying that they’re not reaching their potential, but understanding that reaching one’s potential is a life-long endeavor not a goal to be achieved in childhood.
Courage, my friends.
Your ADHD child is a force of nature, a creative genius, and a game changer. Your child may not achieve what others are achieving but his/her impact will make the world sit up and take notice, whether the audience fills a single-family home or a concert hall.
You are not alone. I’ve got you. No matter what.
Copyright 2018 Yafa Crane Luria All Rights Reserved
What troubles you about parenting an ADHD child or teen?
Let’s talk! No judgment, no salesy come-on. However you WILL receive a good deal of TLC and a slew of strategies. You can say anything. You can cry. You can swear. Your confidentiality is guaranteed, and I promise to listen and give you hope and relief. (You might even find yourself spontaneously doing a happy dance).
“Thank you Yafa. You’ve given me incredibly helpful tools! It was really a pleasure to speak with you. I’ll be back in touch in the coming weeks.” Stella R, Portland, OR.
“I really appreciate that I could be vulnerable and you didn’t shoot me down. I feel comfortable with you and your humor brightened the call.” Danielle A, Bellingham, WA.
“I talked with you a year ago, Yafa, and your voice is always in my head, guiding me. I just wanted to email and thank you.” April W, Queensland, Australia
“Thank you for your encouraging, enlightening suggestions.” Jill E, Seattle, WA.
Thank you for ‘being there’ to share your wealth of knowledge and personal experience with us who are ‘floundering’ and ‘lost in the forest’ when it comes to ‘dealing with special and difficult circumstances’. Gratefully yours, Rochelle H, Alberta, Canada xox ((((BIG HUGS)))
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