My Story: Raising (and Surviving) Three ADHD Children

She raised three children with ADHD. She survived and her kids thrived. A mom looks back on the happy, maddening years.

Parenting Life Story, Part 2

With passion and perseverance only a mother can muster, I helped my kids see their strong points and looked for ways to compensate for their ADHD symptoms. I put my heart into figuring out what they needed.

I read books and magazines about raising successful ADHD kids, sought advice from counselors, doctors, and friends, and followed my intuition. I alternated between cheering them on and chewing them out. I took them to counseling and took away their privileges. I even tried bold-faced bribery — which is how we added another dog to our clan — when my daughter got a B on a final in her junior year. Maybe I overdid it.

On Our Own Now

As you would expect, life is different now that they are grown and on their own. Memories keep coming, though. I was recently filling up my medication box for the week, when I thought about all the Sunday nights we had spent counting out medications to send to school on Monday mornings. And I thought, “Wow, how did we ever get through all that?” The answer, of course, was, “One day at a time.”

It has finally hit home that August is no longer the month from hell. Preparing three ADHD kids for a new school year is overwhelming. Shopping for clothes and supplies was part of the fun. Our solution? Taking one kid at a time to the store. Another challenge was developing a good working relationship with each of my children’s teachers.

As the kids got older, and I had trouble remembering who had Mrs. Something-or-other for English, I made spreadsheets to track which kid had which class when—and with which teacher. One year, I bought two sets of books for each child. My plan—and I always had a plan—was to keep a set at home and a set in their lockers, heading off the classic refrain, “I forgot my books at school.” It worked. Sometimes.

Through it all, Steve and I looked on the bright side. Gratitude for the little things became a tool in our bag of tricks. When two or three parent-teacher conferences were held on the same night, we’d say, “At least we’ll get it over with all at once.” If one of the kids was failing, I would think, “It could be worse. All three of them could be failing.” Of course, some- times it was worse.

Which brings me back fondly to the vanity—and to the hairbrush chain that was tightly screwed to it. A smart friend taught me to always search for the solution to a problem instead of just living with it. So when one hairbrush a week began walking out of the bathroom, compliments of my three kids, we decided to chain the brush to the vanity. Problem solved.

Our kids have gone on to their own families and jobs, now. It is a bit surreal that Steve and I no longer plan most of our days around their needs. We have emerged from post-traumatic stress with only minor tics and twitches. We can go to dinner or the movies and not sweat bullets on the drive home, worrying which neighbor one of our kids has ticked off, or who hit whom, or who broke what while we were gone.

If you’ve raised one or several children with ADHD, and they’ve left home, you can probably relate to my mild elation. But if you’re still raising one or more ADHD children, I’m here to tell you that this too shall pass. We’ve said good-bye to the vanity and the hairbrush chain attached to it, and so will you some day.

This article comes from the Spring 2008 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD and Discipline

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