Today’s guest blog is written by Penny Williams, an award-winning blogger. Penny is a freelance writer, author and warrior mom and the author of the new book, Boy Without Instructions, a book I’ve read and highly recommend. As the mother of a child with ADHD and other special needs, I can totally relate to the struggles Penny describes in this incredible book. Read more about Penny below the article and do check out her book  HERE.

Enjoy this excerpt from the book!

Don’t Destroy your Boat

By Penny Williams

Relationships with significant others are tough, even under the best circumstances. Throw some children and a highly-misunderstood behavioral disability in the mix, and they become exponentially tougher. When my son, Ricochet, was first diagnosed with ADHD, my husband and I leaned on each other for support. We discussed all decisions about Ricochet’s ADHD treatment. It was tough, but we were in it together.

I had been obsessed with ADHD since Ricochet’s diagnosis. I surrounded myself with ADHD books, websites, online forums, videos, etc. I was compelled to learn all I could until I had answers for my son. I spent many, many hours a day researching ADHD and an hour or two most days writing about it. Every night at dinner, I hurled ADHD facts and stories all over everyone. My husband came home from a long, hard day at work, sat down to eat dinner with his family, and listened to a diatribe about ADHD.

My obsession with ADHD was ruling my days completely. I awoke thinking about how ADHD was going to make it hard to get Ricochet ready for school. I thought about what he should eat for breakfast to get the most protein to help his brain focus. I watched him walk into the school building, and hoped ADHD didn’t cause too many troubles for him that day. I came home to blog about ADHD, chat with other moms of kids with ADHD, and read, read, read all about ADHD.

I neglected housework to research. I might have taken a shower, but I was worrying about Ricochet at school as I lathered. I read books or magazines about ADHD as I sat in the car line, waiting for school to let out. I immediately asked Ricochet how his day was as he climbed into the car. I couldn’t wait to get home and read the note his teacher sent about his day, hoping for little ADHD-related comments. I fought with Ricochet about homework because ADHD made it so hard. Then his medication would wear off, and it became all about trying to control his behaviors enough to keep everyone from madness and to keep him from destroying the house. Then it was time to beg him to eat dinner because his ADHD medication made him lose his appetite. Then we had to endure the bedtime battle, a battle only because of ADHD. The only time I was not completely absorbed in ADHD was 8-10 pm each night when the kids were in bed, and I vegetated in front of the television so I could stop thinking.

It took more than three years to realize I wasn’t finding answers because I was asking the wrong questions. My burning questions, those that drove me to the point of obsession, didn’t have answers.

Why MY son?

How do I fix his handwriting?

How do I keep him from getting in trouble at school?

How do I keep him from being bullied?

How do I keep him from failing?

I was driven to an insane thirst for all things ADHD because I wanted to “fix” it, but that was an impossibility.

My obsession silently wedged between my husband and me. I saw it coming in his blank stare when I told a story about the child of a “virtual” friend on my Facebook Fan Page, or beneath his belabored sigh when I explained the contents of yet another article on ADHD. I was pushing too hard.

While my obsession was maddening for him, I realized it wasn’t healthy for me either. It was detrimental to everyone in our family, actually. Our lives couldn’t be all about ADHD all the time — ADHD might feel all-consuming, but we couldn’t permit it that power. In fact, our lives shouldn’t be about ADHD at all. For example, say I have seasonal allergies. Does my life become all about allergies all the time? Of course not. I consider my allergy to all things blooming before taking a hike in the peak of spring, but I consider it, treat it, and then go on my hike. I wouldn’t let allergies determine every facet of my life, and the same should be said for ADHD.

I knew my obsession had reached a breaking point when even I grew tired of reading, talking, and thinking about ADHD. I had given ADHD all the power in our family, and I had to make a genuine, concerted effort to regain control. I set a schedule to study and write about ADHD. I worked to think about something other than ADHD when I looked at Ricochet. I stopped feeling sorry for him, and once again focused on discovering and nurturing his gifts. I vowed not to discuss ADHD at the dinner table — if I had something ADHD-related to discuss with my husband, I would do it privately at a different time. I carved out some time to again focus on improving my real estate business. It took an enormous amount of self-awareness and effort, but ADHD no longer controlled my life.

Regaining control over the affect ADHD had on our family began to repair a broken portion of my marriage, too. There’s a wonderful quote from a parent of a child with Fragile X Syndrome that illustrates this beautifully: “I tell couples who sail into a storm and are fighting: ‘Don’t hack at your boat in a storm. If you are in the middle of a crisis, don’t take the very support you have and start whacking at it, because that is dumb. You should love, nurture, and care for the other person or you aren’t going to make it through the storm.’”

We had to stop going after each other over ADHD. Loss of support was a casualty we couldn’t afford.



A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, and a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny and get updates about Ricochet at