Reply To: Emotional Distance


It absolutely is NOT awful! Sometimes it’s the only way to save your sanity and break the vicious cycle (the roller coaster ride from hell!).

Here’s the good news that I see out of all of this: this whole experience proves something pretty powerful that many parents don’t realize–your thoughts impact how you feel. And your feelings impact your reactions, which then impact your results. You have now seen first hand that when you think, “not my son”, it changes how you feel for the better (you don’t take things personally, you don’t get upset, you get off that roller coaster) which then allows you to react differently (in a detached way, no longer getting sucked in to the drama.) I’m betting that when you are detached like this, your son is probably more calm too in response to how you’re handling things.

Some more good news: I don’t think you have to emotionally disconnect to feel better. It’s possible that you could change your thoughts without disowning or disconnecting–Thoughts like, “It’s the ADHD talking. I’m not going to take it personally,” or “Kids do well if they can so he must not be able to for some reason (his ADHD or Executive Function deficits)” will result in you feeling much different emotions, like empathy and understanding. And from that better-feeling place, you’ll be able to make better parenting decisions.

One great resource to help you reframe your thoughts is the book “the Explosive Child” by Ross Greene. He really has a great way of putting things in perspective (new thoughts!) and explains new ways of handling things once you are in that better-feeling place. You might also benefit from getting some one on one support for yourself (counseling, coaching, support groups) so you can get the help and support you need through these hard times. As the saying goes, you ‘can’t pour from an empty cup’ so it’s important that you take care of yourself so you have the energy and stamina to make it through the teen years. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Joyce Mabe
Parenting Coach, school counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD.