Reply To: Anger from Adult with ADD at Parent Over Late Diagnosis

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You say that she’s looking for a ‘real’ apology and that she thinks you ‘don’t show concern for her and how she is trying to cope with ADD.’ Have you asked her what exactly she means by this? What exactly is she looking for you to apologize for? What does she mean by ‘show concern’ for her? Do you know? There’s a quote I love: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” It seems to me that she is not feeling heard or understood (and probably you feel the same way!) So I think that the first step in healing your relationship is to ask her to sit down with you face to face (not via text) and have a conversation so you can talk about these things–in a calm quiet place where you can both say what you feel and you both get to be heard, and understood, by the other.

As far as what you’d say to her, I think it’s appropriate for you to own up to and apologize for your part of things, whatever those things may be (after you find out what she’s wanting you to apologize for–sometimes our memories and recall differ from our kids; she may remember things that you have forgotten). It’s also important to emphasize (if you haven’t already) that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time AND that you can see now that it wasn’t what she needed and that you wish you could go back and change things…but you can’t…So now you really want to focus on moving forward with her. Emphasize that you care about her and want her to be happy. Let her know that you have been learning a lot about ADHD now so you can understand it better. Ask her what she needs from you NOW.

It’s also important that you put some boundaries in place about how you want to be treated. Even if you made mistakes back then, that does not mean you have to be her punching bag or her “scape goat” forevermore. It’s understandable that she’s feeling upset and having a serious case of the ‘shoulda/woulda/couldas’–lashing out at you periodically probably makes her feel better in the moment (like releasing a pressure valve to let off steam) but is not fun (or fair) for you as her target. Don’t be afraid to tell her in a loving way, after you get all this out in the open face to face, that if in the future she’s wanting to talk about things, you want to sit down face to face and discuss it in a mutually respectful way–that you will no longer engage with her about this via text.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Joyce Mabe
Parenting Coach, mom of adult son with ADHD, author