I’m the first to admit that I’m still figuring out how to parent, especially when it comes to my first-born. He has ADHD, and there are aspects of the condition, and the way it influences his behavior and personality, that I still don’t understand.
But every once in a while, I gain insight. I make strides. In understanding it, I mean. Not necessarily in parenting it!
Over the past couple of years, some of the more challenging aspects of my 11-year-old’s ADHD have been put into the spotlight. This is largely due to the pandemic’s stifling effect on our social lives. It’s limited the activities and experiences we could do and have, and forced us all to spend a lot more time together than is typical, or healthy!
I think we could say that, ADHD or not, this time in close quarters with our immediate families has exacerbated some tensions and highlight some faults. Not least of which my own, but especially my 11-year-old’s. Though it’s not fair to call them faults when, I suspect, many of them are a direct result of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
Detective Munch has a few persistent habits, a few recurring bits of bad behavior, a few troubling personality traits that recur with enough frequency that I think I’ve been able to pinpoint where they originate from, or at least how ADHD amplifies them.
My dude always needs to be entertained. ALWAYS. And he always seems to want more – more screen time, more board games, more dessert, more more more. My instinct has often been to chalk that up to his being spoiled, but when you consider his ADHD, a different reason emerges.
It’s not so much about needing more to do as it is about an inability to be present. He always need to know what’s next. Even if he’s having the best day of his life, at the end of it he’ll seemingly ignore that fun and want to know what tomorrow will bring. So instead of having gratitude for all the fun he’s had that day, he can’t help but focus on what getting – or not getting – once that fun ends.
This is tremendously frustrating for @momandburied and me. Even worse, it’s bewildering and disheartening.
It’s bewildering because we spend all day managing all that implied disappointment, even though he rarely has anything to be disappointed about. He wants for nothing, whether that be food or video games or books or playdates. Mom and Buried bends over backwards to make special memories for him – for both of our kids. And yet, even when it’s clear he’s enjoyed whatever we’ve done, his outlook almost always turns sour.
It’s as if every day is Festivus, only if I try to end his constant airing of grievances with some feats of strengths, I’ll get arrested!
It’s disheartening because he wasn’t always like this. He used to be a much more happy-go-lucky kid, and it wasn’t until the past few years that his outlook seemed to turned negative. We miss the easygoing guy who appreciated all the special things we did for him, and the regular things too. While some of this comes with being a tween, his personality shift makes us feel like we’re doing something wrong.
Which we are, of course (who isn’t?), but not in the typical “he’s spoiled/he has no boundaries/there’s no discipline” manner. It’s more about the myriad ways ADHD impacts him. His entire personality emerges through the prism of ADHD, affecting aspects of his behavior, his general moods, even his perspective on life. Needless to say, we continue to have a hard time navigating it. But that’s on us to figure out.
We’ve already learned that we can’t discipline those symptoms out of him. Now we have to adapt to them, and find new ways to approach his behavior, for his benefit and ours.
Did I mention this is hard?