In podcast #8, ADHD Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini, discusses five things that ADHD parents don’t need to hear.
We know receiving unsolicited advice is a problem for many ADHD parents. It seems as soon as someone knows your child has ADHD the comments start. “Don’t worry; they’ll outgrow ADHD.” “They don’t have ADHD; they’re a troublemaker.” “Your child gets unfair advantage because of ‘ADHD.’” Or “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you say it is.”
In many cases, the person making the comment doesn’t understand the devastating impact their words have. They think they’re being helpful or supportive. In reality, they’re doing the opposite. They’re making ADHD parents feel judged, isolated, and overwhelmed.
When speaking to a parent of ADHD child, please don’t say the following five things to them.
First, ADHD doesn’t exist. Second, Everybody has ADHD. Third, ADHD is new, and now everybody has it. Fourth, I would never medicate my child. Fifth, ADHD is an excuse for bad parenting.
First, ADHD doesn’t exist. This is hurtful to parents because it does exist, and many parents would rather their child didn’t have ADHD. To get an ADHD diagnosis it has to be diagnosed by a medical professional, the child has to meet specific criteria, and it’s a lengthy and rigorous process to get a diagnosis as other issues have to be ruled out.
Second, everybody has ADHD. When you say this, it minimizes the struggles that parents and child face when dealing with ADHD. Like any other diagnosis, ADHD exists on a scale from mild to severe. Your experience with ADHD may not be the same as other parents. You may have a mild form of ADHD that was reasonably easy to handle, but that may not be the case for every parent you’re talking to.
Third, ADHD is new, and everybody has it. ADHD has been around for a long time and has a lot of research into what it is and the best ways to treat it.
Fourth, I would never medicate my child.
This statement is full of judgment and may come across that you’re better than they are. The decision to medicate a child isn’t taken lightly and often comes at the recommendation of the child’s physician as medication may be the best course for that child.
Fifth, ADHD is an excuse for bad parenting. There is never a time or place for this statement. When you say this to a parent, you’re essentially telling them that they’re inept and not able to be a good parent. Which can be devastating to a parent who is doing everything they can to help their child. Remember that ADHD is a medical diagnosis, much like cancer is.
What ADHD parents need is someone to be a listening ear. They need someone to encourage them and to be there for them. They are already struggling with feelings of failure and inadequacy, and hurtful comments don’t help. You don’t understand the challenges they may be facing in raising their child.
Remember that ADHD parents don’t need to hear negative comments. Parenting is hard enough, so please, please be kind when talking to any parent.