I’ve been involved both professionally and personally not only in helping moms with ADHD (many who have children with ADHD or other special needs) but also in my local community, supporting parents with challenging children.
In addition, I have a young adult daughter with special needs (and severe ADHD), so I know first-hand what goes through many of our minds as we raise and support our kids, regardless of their age, as many need our help throughout their lives.
When I work with moms with ADHD who have challenging children, regardless of their diagnosis, I’ve come to learn that we moms are really struggling on many different levels.
We are exhausted. Our days are often filled with conflict, managing difficult behaviors. Then there are IEPs. Doctors appointments. Therapies of all sorts. For many, it’s simply trying to survive one day at a time.
I remember years ago when my daughter was quite young and her needs so demanding, being told that “God chose you to care for her.” Or “You were given a special child because you are a strong and special mother”, or “She just needs more discipline.” Things of that nature. I would bristle each time and get angry and then depressed.
Little did they know what ran through my mind. Thoughts that would sometimes keep me up late at night because I felt so guilty. Words and feelings that *many many* parents of special needs kids think but would never share with another human being on this planet.
Fast forward 30+ years and I’ve decided that as a professional- a psychotherapist *and* mother of a young adult with ADHD and other special needs, it’s time to clear the air and embrace the truth:
Many of us parents, struggling with our own ADHD (and/or anxiety/depression/fill in the blank) often have fantasies, wishes, and thoughts about how we really did not sign up for this most difficult job. Many of us became quite depressed for the loss of the idealized child- the baby we held so close, dreaming of what the future would hold, as we finally became a family.
That loss is real and it’s important for moms (and dads) to acknowledge these secret feelings.
Lately, I’ve been talking about how we, as moms with ADHD, need to start listening to those secret thoughts deeply hidden in our psyche, so we can heal, shed the guilt, and then become better parents to our children.
What are some of those thoughts?
- I’m a terrible mother. I can’t manage my own stuff- how can I help my child?
- I don’t dare have another child; I can barely survive with this one.
- I’m pissed off. I’m ANGRY. My life is not my own- it’s always going to be about worrying and caring for my child.
- I’m depressed. I wanted a child so badly and now he/she/they have taken over my entire life. I’ve lost my husband/partner, who didn’t want to (or couldn’t) walk through life with me and a difficult child with needs.
And yes, even this:
- Sometimes I wish he/she had never been born.
And for some, even worse thoughts.
It’s important to understand this: thoughts and wishes don’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you will act on these often terrifying wishes. It means you are human and life can be difficult and unfair at times.
My hope is that these words will help you to normalize your feelings and thoughts. It means you are not alone. My wish is for you to forgive yourself and accept that this is a normal part of parenting, period, but more so when you have a difficult, challenging child under your roof.
There are organizations out there for those touched by ADHD. They offer great supports via online groups, conferences, and much more:
Consider working with a therapist to help you deal with your struggles.
Connect with other parents who have difficult children.
My hope is that this alleviates some of the anxiety and guilt you may have been carrying for 2-50+ years. My hope is that you’ll share some of your feelings in my comment section on my blog. Because we all need to know that we aren’t alone with our concerns.
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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If you found my article above helpful, check out my interview with Bob Dietrich of the ADHD Toolbox LIVE where I discuss this topic in depth.
It’s time! Time to send your kids back to school. This lunch box keeps food cool and gives you plenty of room to store a variety of healthy foods.
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I get it. Because I have ADHD, too, and over 25 years of experience working with adults with ADHD.
(I have a limited number of slots available; if you don’t see a time that works for you, email me at terry@ADDconsults.com).
* Like this article? I write about all kinds of ADHD experiences here on my website in the blog section, and if they spark something in you, talk to me! I offer online consultations for men and women with ADHD.
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