By Kristin Lyle
Parenting is a challenging job, let alone parenting a child diagnosed with ADHD. On some days, I feel my walls will be more responsive than my child. I do everything I can to distinguish whether the problem is ADHD or simply a result of the current developmental stage. Do I ask for things I cannot reasonably expect? Am I asking too much? Looking at our family calendar that includes endless sports, occupational therapy, family therapy, church groups, and play dates, I can honestly say, "yes, I am asking too much." Not only am I asking too much of my children, but I am pushing myself to my limits, which does not benefit anyone.
It's never easy being a parent, but one thing I have learned is to give up trying to be a superhero. The day I gave up my relentless pursuit of busy activities and stubbornness towards advice was the day I actually became a superhero. Four years ago, we moved to a new state and were forced to get a new pediatrician. The doctor told me I was doing everything I could for my son's ADHD, "You should be proud of your efforts." Then she said something that changed everything, "I want to make sure that what you are doing is working.” In tears, I told her that while we do see promising results, the improvement is slow, his behavior continues to be a challenge. “I am exhausted.” She suggested that I try giving my son the smallest amount of medication so that his brain receives the signals to "turn on." Despite my reluctance, I took the prescription.
After a day full of arguing and battling school, I decided to start his medication the following day. Twenty-five minutes later, I found myself in the kitchen sobbing because the switch in his brain had turned on. Everything I had heard about ADHD medication transforming your child into a zombie was not true. I found my son was responding better to me, fidgeting less, and being more cooperative than ever. After years of trying to do it natural, I remember feeling angry that one little pill made it easier to achieve what we've been trying so hard for. My stubborn nature was put aside at that moment, and I became open to techniques that were effective and safe rather than my way or the highway.
It's difficult to raise a child with ADHD, but it doesn't have to be as hard as I am making it. It is not the end all be all to use medication. Medication should be combined with therapeutic techniques and learned coping skills. Due to my new attitude, I now spend less time in multiple therapy sessions every week, knowing what is reasonable and what is beyond his capabilities. Throughout this process, I learned that I was preventing my son from doing something that would help him be successful due to my own preconceptions.
Some lessons I have learned:
1. Consider your schedule carefully. Is what you are busy doing making a positive difference?
2. Am I making my child’s life more hectic due to my own personal preconceptions against medication and my unwillingness to try new things?
While our schedule is still jammed full of activities, we spend less time arguing,
more time remembering to use coping skills, and being open to new things. I am pleased to report that my child is doing better, I am less stressed, and I no longer have conversations with the walls.
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