Latitude for Gratitude
Look beyond the challenges of parenting a child with ADHD to the daily victories you pull off for yourself and your family.
When attention deficit disorder (ADHD) is part of your life, it’s easy to overlook what you have to be thankful for. It’s natural to dwell on the challenges of parenting a child with ADHD. Who wouldn’t, when just getting the kids out the door every morning is a major accomplishment?
But gratitude for and joy in the successes — no matter how mundane they seem to the rest of the world – will help you put the hard times in perspective. Consider these strategies for getting through the tough stuff with a grateful heart.
Seek Out the Bright Side
I often call upon cognitive behavioral psychology to help clients understand how their thoughts impact their mood and behavior. The benefit of looking for the bright side is that you can lessen stress and improve your mood.
Each morning, before the busy-ness begins, think of something that brings you joy. Whether it’s movies, the taste of coffee, weekends — if you start your morning thinking about something positive, instead of the work ahead, it will set your focus for the day.
Likewise, end the day reviewing those things you appreciate, not the stuff that hasn’t gone as well as you would have liked. Bookend-ing the day in this way will keep you focused on the positives.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Child
The effort involved in parenting a child with ADHD can blur our view of the child himself. We forget that he is still, after all, a kid. One day my son, Jarryd, who has ADHD, told me, “Mom, I’m not a fix-it project. I need you to be my mom and love me for who I am.”
Those words had a profound impact on our relationship. Seeing your child as a child — with a love of baking, a knack for joke telling, a fondness for animals — instead of as a child with a disorder, also keeps things in perspective.
Let Go of the Small Stuff
Going for perfection (or striving to meet the standards of others) saps our energy and prevents us from getting to the things we do best. I have an adult client who couldn’t keep her home organized, and, as a result, put off doing what she loves-making jewelry.
Since getting organized was not her strength, I suggested she hire someone to help – and sell her jewelry to pay for the service. She loved the idea. You, too, may benefit from adjusting standards and getting support. Give yourself permission not to sweat the small stuff. Decide what is “clean enough” or “organized enough.”
Enjoy a Good Laugh
You can’t always laugh when dealing with a sticky situation, but maybe you can look back and see the humor. One morning, as my husband and I were leaving for work, we found Jarryd skating on a slippery pond of pudding and milk he’d made on the kitchen floor. It was obviously a big mess that would delay us, but we told ourselves, “One day we’ll laugh at this.” And, of course, we have.
Just Say Thank You
The act of saying thank you reminds us that we aren’t alone, even though we may feel so at times. Write a note to someone you love — a parent, your child, your spouse — letting him know what you appreciate about him and expressing gratitude for the ways he enriches your life. Recipients cherish such notes. This may become a holiday tradition involving the entire family. In fact, why not write the first letter to yourself!