“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 a child 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 depression, 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 and medications can also interfere with a child’s appetite and sleep.
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.