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“FYI: You Are the Perfect Parent for Your Child”

I said goodbye to my dream child and said hello to my actual child. Now I can help her the way she needs me to.

I said goodbye to my child, the perfect little angel who I dreamed about when I was carrying her in my belly, the child who I spent many happy moments with when I took her to the park, shopping, and on family vacations. The child who excelled in school and was on the honor roll. The child who had friends and was invited to lots of birthday parties. The child who was well behaved, respectful, and kind, who was admired by adults and peers. Everyone adored her.

I said hello to my actual child. The child who can have a meltdown at any moment for any reason. The child who can find something negative to say while she is at Disneyland, the friggin’ happiest place on Earth. The child who complains about school every day, resists doing her homework, and doesn’t care about getting good grades. The child who is loud, impulsive, and immature, and who has a hard time making and keeping friends. The child who gets bullied and hardly ever gets invited to birthday parties. The child who is judged and talked about for being different by her peers and by adults.

My child, my actual child, is all of these things, and do you know what? I love her. I adore her. I treasure her. Once I saw my child—I mean really saw my child—I was able to love her and help her, the way she needed me to. I was able to tweak my parenting to fit her needs. It was life changing. And do you know what? Being her parent is a real pain in the ass.

Parents of children with ADHD have to deal with so much more than a typical parent. I feel as if we use every ounce of our energy to help our children. We’re constantly researching therapies, medications, fidget tools, study aids, and so on. We’re also constantly advocating for our children and defending them. Whenever we get the chance, we try our best to educate others, so they will understand our children and show them compassion and kindness.

As many parents raising children with ADHD know, ADHD is not just about being able to focus or sit still. Many coexisting conditions come along with ADHD, so parents also help their children deal with other conditions like mood disorder, anxiety, and ODD. ADHD can also take a toll on a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence, so parents spend a lot of time help building these up in their children. ADHD medications can also interfere with a child’s appetite and sleep.

[Free Resource: Is It More Than Just ADHD?]

A parent feels a lot of guilt and shame. If you choose to medicate, you have to deal with the rollercoaster of finding the right medication and dosage, which may change as your child grows. You have to deal with the judgment of others for putting your child on medication, even though it is a personal decision and you have spent many sleepless nights worrying about it. Parents may feel guilt for feeling as if they are neglecting their other children by spending so much time and energy on their child with ADHD.  The list goes on.

Being a parent to a child with ADHD is not what you envisioned for yourself and your family. It’s not the dream come true you fantasized about when you decided to start a family. Is your life more difficult because of your child? Yes. Is it more stressful? You betcha. As I said before, being a parent to a child is a pain in the ass, because it really is.

But think about all that you do for your child. Think about the love, help, support, and guidance you give her, have given her, and will continue to give her throughout her life. Think about all the ways you embrace your child, her true self, and her ADHD. Your child most likely does not see all that you do for her, which I know is frustrating, because you do not feel appreciated.

The bottom line (and the big picture) is this: I guarantee you that as your amazing child gets older, she will realize all the wonderful ways you have gone above and beyond for her. She will be forever grateful that she was blessed with you as her parent, who allowed her to show her true colors and loved her unconditionally. You are the perfect parent for your child, and you are doing a kick-ass job.

[Up Next: “Perfect Is a Myth” — and Other Self-Esteem Boosters]

4 Comments & Reviews

  1. The only thing that I don’t read in this is for the parents who choose not to medicate and all of the sleep they also lose over trying to research, find what works and be guilted by those who believe one is denying their child the medical care they require.

    I’m not pro/anti meds or natural route. I’m about what works for the child and the family.

    But I wish that articles like this represented BOTH sides, b/c each isn’t any easier…

  2. Exactly what I needed to hear just when I needed to hear it.
    Yeah, there are both sides…medicated and non. I was raised with the non…and now I have the beautiful gift of meds and behavioral skills, both of which I carefully research and weigh the pros and cons as a health professional– and as a mom. So I consider it a blessing that I can now offer the gift of nutrition, certain meds and behavioral therapy to my child. I will do everything in my power to not have her struggle in futility
    with life’s challenges the way I did.

    That being said, I now realize that had I gotten the “perfect child” I think I would be horrendously bored! She is my
    challenge and my greatest blessing. In this way she is completely perfect.

  3. I loved this article. My kid has ODD and he is 6 years old. The main problematic behavior is impulse control where he enjoys teasing to get a reaction from others or kicks and hits if he hears a simple no. At school he is doing a great job so far at not causing any trouble inside the classroom. It makes sense, because it’s in the unstructured activities that he struggles the most, like recess. He started having aggressive behaviors when he was one year old. Of course we dismissed as a natural development of his social skills. When he was 2 going to three, almost every time I would pick him up at daycare, his teachers had always an incident report for me to sign (those blue papers, Ugh) and once he put his hands around the neck of another classmate and they started to say that it was overwhelming for them to have my kid in the classroom because other parents were already complaining and they had to be super vigilant when he was around. I had the exact same thought as you, Cristina. For 4 long years I would ask myself why us, why could I not have a child who would be nice and gentle to others and of course, have only occasionally meltdowns.I had long conversations with my husband saying that we needed help and our kid needed help too. It was hard to convince him: “when I was his age we, boys, always would do that with each other and it’s fine. He will grow out of it”. He did’t and we managed to see a counselor in which we did parent-child therapy. She helped Gabriel by helping us to see how extraordinary he was. How smart. How funny (that part we had already noticed) and even kind (veeery occasionally). She also taught us that there is always an inside story happening before the behavior. The behavior we can see. The inside story we have to slowly figure out because he doesn’t have the emotional ability to tell us what it is bothering him most of the times. I used to look at these kids playing in the playground and misbehaving so intensely that it was easy to think: “Yeah. This is bad parenting. What the kid needs is punishment and the parents are letting him get away with the bad behavior. When I have my kids I will never let them behave like this”. And then, I had my kid. And he taught me so much. I (and my husband) became more compassionate, generous and kind not only with him but also to other parents around. When I let him play in the playground after school I come up exhausted because I have to monitor him or he will be pushing, throwing wood chips or hitting some kid. I also have a lot of parents, with their kid side to side confronting me that my kid hurt their child. I recognize so well that look of judgment. But now, I learned how to handle Gabriel and how he should be raised and I do come out of this stronger as mum… but so much more exhausted :). The article that you wrote is so helpful because it’s a reassurance that I’m not alone.

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