Guest Blogs

“Open Letter to Single Parents Raising a Child with ADHD”

A military spouse whose husband is overseas has her own call of duty.

Dear Single Parent of the Child with ADHD,

I’ve stepped into your world, and I have something to say.

You are strong. You are capable. You are giving your best to your child, but you probably feel like you are failing at every turn. You’re not. Now give yourself a break.

Being a parent is challenging. We are given these little creatures to care for, to love, to nurture, but they don’t come with an instruction manual. Most of us wing it and hope for the best. We wonder if we are doing a good job, or if our children will require hours of therapy in adulthood to fix what we mucked up when they were kids.

[Free Download: 13 Parenting Strategies for Kids with ADHD]

For parents of children with ADHD, the struggles and self-doubt can be worse. Are we enabling our kids by offering assistance in dealing with their symptoms? Or are we being too hard on them when their symptoms surface and they speak out of turn or have a meltdown? Are we providing enough support? The proper medication? The best diet?

As I’ve recently learned, solo parenting a child with ADHD is exhausting. Being the only parent around to care for the kid who talks nonstop and has the energy of a grown man who’s downed three Red Bulls is not for the faint of heart. But before I go further, allow me to clear up my situation. I am not a single parent. I am a military spouse whose husband is overseas. I have a spouse, and when he is home, he is tremendously supportive and a wonderful father.

But right now, when he’s away, it’s all me. I have no one to tag-team with in the morning when one child is unfocused and the other doesn’t want to get out of bed — and breakfast still hasn’t been made. I have to creatively plan when one child’s extracurricular activities conflict with my other child’s because I can only be in one place at one time. Most days I feel tired. Others I feel overwhelmed. At times I question if I am doing enough to help my kids cope with being separated from their dad.

Sometimes this really sucks. But you, single parent, deal with this all the time. You are the be-all and end-all for your child. You get up and take care of business despite your lack of sleep. You tackle the emotional roller coasters that come with ADHD. You advocate for your child and make sure she gets what she needs at school. You are likely drained and overworked. You spend all of your time thinking of others.

[7 of Our Best Strategies for Single Parents]

Give yourself a break. Take some time for you, whatever time you can. Create a playlist with your favorite songs and turn up the volume while driving your kids around. Tell yourself it’s OK to sit in a quiet room and  enjoy the silence. Grab a bottle of wine when you’re at the grocery store and have a glass while soaking in a hot bubble bath after the kids are in bed. The dishes/laundry/other obligations can wait.

Take the time to care for yourself, single parent. Because if there’s any parent in the world who deserves it most, it’s you.