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Groundhog Day 2: The ADHD Version

One mother explains how parents can stay positive and overcome challenges, even when ADHD in children can make the going tough.

It is normal to grieve when your child is diagnosed with ADHD. No, it’s not a life-threatening illness, but it can be if denied or left untreated. Despite that, you just found out that your child has a neurological disorder that will likely affect him for the rest of his life. It’s OK to grieve-healthy even.

You grieve, and you move on. You begin treatment and you start to see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Your child is beginning to mature, medication and/or other treatment is helping ADHD symptoms, and your child’s self-esteem begins an upward trajectory. You can see glimpses of a happy child and a bright future. “I’ve got this!” you think.

Not so fast. ADHD is like a faulty foundation sitting on a slippery slope. It’s only a matter of time before the ground becomes soft underneath it, and you slide back into a rough patch and the valley of despair. You want it to be like it was – you want something to hope for again. You call the doctor, e-mail your child’s teachers, ask the doctor for a change of medication, and google looking for a magic bullet until you’re weary. You are desperate to find that elusive joy in your special parenthood again. You need to find hope again. You search everywhere, but there aren’t often answers.

This game of hide-and-seek can go on for a few days or several months when you’re parenting a child with ADHD. You may hit a good stretch, work on getting your child’s foundation good and solid, put some scaffolding in place, and think you can wash your hands of this twisted game you did not ask to play-only to be derailed by it again one day.

The slippery slope is always slippery. Over the long haul it can feel like a bad case of Groundhog Day. There are disappointments lurking ahead when raising a child with ADHD. You want your child to be happy and achieve success, just as any parent does. But ADHD shakes the foundation. Try as you might, the foundation isn’t secure enough to withstand all of the blows.

I fall into pits of despair every so often too. I feel like I’m always surprised by it, like I shouldn’t get upset about things I can’t change, but that isn’t realistic. When raising a child with ADHD, we feel sad for our kids, much more than other parents do for their children. We are going to feel helpless and bottom out sometimes. The trick is to get back in the game, and find and reclaim your joy. It’s there. It is just hard to see sometimes.

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