Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Being an ADHD parent sometimes means you carry a giant chip on your shoulder.
You become used to judgement, stares and snarky comments. You put your back up, you thicken your skin and its very easy to develop a ‘everyone can get fucked” attitude.
It is so hard to hear criticism of your child or of your parenting style. I mean if I could only choose one thing in the world to be successful at, it would be without a doubt - being a good mum. So when it feels like the majority votes that you suck, and your kid sucks....well its devastating.
It’s so easy to focus on the shit people, on the rude people and the ignorant.
But focusing on the bad is never going to lead to anything good.
Recently, a small random conversation with Sebastian opened my eyes to the focusing on the good.
Seb randomly said to me, “Muuuummm!!! You were going to buy those Harvest Snack Bean things and you keep forgetting’”
We hadn’t spoke of these for months and I said “Oh sorry mate remind me next time we are at the shops”
He then said “When I went on my excursion, I didn’t put my lunch bags on the bus, because I knew I wouldn’t be hungry because of my tablets… and I was so hungry on the way home Mrs Johnson gave me her Harvest Snacks.”
The first thing that entered my mind, was “Greeeeaaaaat! He didn’t pack his lunch that I sent, now the teacher will think. “Not only is this child misbehaving...... but his mum didn’t even give him any lunch”
I gave myself a mental kick to the shin and said “Shut up Janelle, see it for what it is!" Stop reading negatively into everything, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your parenting. It was a hungry kid and a kind teacher who gave him some snacks” It had nothing to do with me as a parent and everything to do with her modelling kind, thoughtful behaviour to my son.
Another lightbulb moment, we went to the petrol station after dinner one night last week, Sebastian asked to spend some of his own money on a treat or two. I allowed it and didn't notice until we got out of the car that both kids had no shoes on and were absolutely filthy. They loaded up on lollies and loudly headed towards the counter, and I was embarrassed of my feral, shoeless kids, buying lollies at 8pm thought everyone was judging us. The lady behind the counter said "Hey mate, its great you earn't this money and it's nice of you to buy things for your sister. Have you got your bookweek costume sorted?"
Annabelle exclaimed that she was very excited and was going as Wonder Woman! Seb shyly shook his head. I explained that he hated bookweek and found it was anxiety inducing and caused sensory overload for him on the day, so we normally kept him home. She then told us that her child who is now an adult, is Austic and they both abhorred Book Week, that it was the cause of many meltdowns in her home! Suddenly I was no longer embarrassed, and instead felt understood.
It’s so easy to focus on the negative. Research shows that the ideal praise to criticism ratio is five positive remarks to one negative. They say it takes five positive experiences or comments to outweigh just one negative. ADHD kids are generally massively into the negative deficit. As their parents you are probably there too and maybe even more so than they are.
It's time to put on some mental Scotchguard and let that negative shit just slide right off. It's not going to stick anymore. It has no purpose but make us all feel terrible. I'm going to make it my mission to highlight the positives. I need to teach my kids that the negative people only affect you if you let them, and let's be realistic, its sometimes very hard to stop those remarks from prying open your thick skin and scratching the softness beneath. But we need to show our kids how to ignore this and get on with their lives confidently.
Recently we had a big downward behavioural spiral at school, and in turn at home. We had 5 behavioural reports home ( AKA White Slips) in 5 days. After months of virtually no incidents, we thought we were finally on the right track, so this really felt like a huge setback. Like we had not progressed at all.
The final white slip came on a Thursday afternoon and I was livid. I was angry with my child , I was angry with the school, I was angry with the world! After school on the Thursday, I said to Seb "Walk to your Nanna's I'`m just done with this" and I drove behind him as he walked about a block to his Nanna and Poppa's house. We met him there where I had a huge vent to my mum about all that had happened.
Seb had hurt other children. Which of course, hurts their parents too. The parents are angry at my child, for hurting their child. The teachers and leadership team are frustrated, and I'm feeling defeated. But all of this, coupled with my anxiety, made me feel as though I didn't even want to show my face in the school. It felt like it was Sebastian and I against the entire world.
That afternoon my phone rang and my son's school showed on the caller ID. "Good" I thought! Because I was ready for a fight!! So I was surprised to hear the kind voice of the school counsellor on the end of the line. She let me vent, cry and just get it all out. She asked me to come in for a meeting the next week to work out how we can help from here. She gave me a light to focus on, a small positive and a glimmer of hope to guide us to a better situation.
I gave Seb the following day off school to just reset, and for us to reconnect, because I had been so upset with him, I needed some time to be reminded of all the wonderful things about him. We spent the day in the winter sunshine, and we babysat our delicious 8 month old nephew Lenny for an hour or so. We even met a Golden Retriever puppy, whose owner was kind enough to let us pat and gush over this little ball of perfection. Seeing Sebby with babies and animals always reminds me of the kindness in his heart, and his gentle nature. It reassures me that underneath the silly decisions and impulsiveness, he is good person, and he will be ok.
I am forcing myself to find the positives, the absolute fucking gems in this journey
The kids who look past the silly behaviour and see the kind funny boy underneath the silly impulses. The teachers that see the boy beneath the behaviour and the heart inside the boy.
To the parents who allow their kids to play with Sebastian even though he swears like someone with Tourettesl
The kind people in the supermarket who shoot an empathetic smile.
My friends who listen to me non-judgementally when I need it.
To the teachers pulling their hair out, trying to find ways to work with Seb.
To our family, who love him unconditionally.
We see you, and we are so thankful for you.
Look for the good and show these kids how to do the same. Lord knows, they need it even more than we do.