The Emotional Side

“What I Wish My Parents Had Known . . . ”

With the benefit of hindsight, ADDitude readers remember misunderstood behaviors, missed opportunities, and overlooked symptoms of ADHD, as they reflect on what they wish their parents had known about their neurodiversity when they were growing up.

A paper family on a wooden house, holding a heart to represent love, support, and ADHD help
Paper family wooden house red heart

For many adults, receiving an ADHD diagnosis can be game-changing, causing them to understand themselves — their behaviors, challenges, strengths, and past experiences — in an entirely new light. Here, our readers cast back to their childhoods, remembering everything from overlooked symptoms of ADHD to misunderstood behaviors, as they reflect on what they wish their parents had known.

Hindsight’s 20/20, and the insights gleaned serve as helpful guidance for parents raising a new generation of kids with ADHD. If there’s something you wish your parents had known when you were growing up, share it in the Comments section below.

“No matter how hard I tried, I was too loud, too impulsive, too distracted, and too much trouble. I wish my parents had known that I couldn’t help it.” — An ADDitude Reader

I wish they had known about ADHD and impulsivity. They would have been better equipped to talk with me about what can possibly happen when you make impulsive decisions and offer guidance instead of shaming and grounding me.” — An ADDitude Reader

“How all-encompassing ADHD is. They thought of it only as an inability to focus on school, or as forgetfulness, but it affects every aspect of my life.” — MM, Oregon

[What is ADHD? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments]

“I wish my parents had known that rejection sensitivity is very common with ADHD. I struggled socially my entire childhood, and it felt like I kept getting set up to fail. I always felt left out or behind.” — An ADDitude Reader

I wish my parents knew that kids with good grades could have ADHD. Also, that girls could have it. My school years would have been much less stressful.” — Kami, North Carolina

“That my ‘messy’ room made perfect sense to me because anything put away in drawers and closets seemed to completely stop existing for me. That all I wanted was for them to accept me for who I am and to love and understand me without the added ‘but…’”An ADDitude Reader

“My parents didn’t even consider the possibility that I had ADHD because I was nothing like my younger brother. So, I wish my parents knew that ADHD in girls can present very differently and is easily missed.” — Rachel, Michigan

[Read: 3 Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks]

“My parents always had control of the situation, so I just went with the flow — of plans, directions, anything I was told or expected to do. Now I wish they could have taught me how to make my own plans, how to stick to them, how to set up for future events, and how to keep a sense of time.”— Emily, South Dakota

Putting a child on medication should not be seen as a failure but an opportunity. I wish the ADHD parts of me were embraced and celebrated rather than condemned.” — Amy, Canada

I wish she [my mother] had known that she probably had ADHD, too, and that it affects every aspect of life.” — Jecca, Utah

“Help your children forge relationships with mentors and study groups because, underneath their insecurities, they are smart and capable. Try not to write them off. Guide them into areas you see they will thrive.”— An ADDitude Reader

“Never call your child lazy, stupid, fickle, a party girl (or boy), irresponsible, or any other negatives. It only lowers our already low self-esteem. Warmth and affection are as necessary to us as oxygen and should be lavishly bestowed.” — Sherri, Florida

Signs of ADHD: Next Steps

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.