Knowledge is Power: ADHD Parenting with ADHD Kids
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. -Bruce Lee
When I was growing up, my dad always sprinkled all kinds of advice on me. One of my favorites was when he would tell me that I’d need to obtain a “personal financial statement” from any guy I was interested in dating. While financial security is always a good thing, I don’t think I ever actually used that particular gem. Also, “leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Although, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that’s a line from The Godfather.
I think the single most important advice my dad ever gave me was “knowledge is power.”
Now, I wasn’t really a great student. I was easily distracted, and bored by most of my classes even though I was with the AP/gifted kids. Math was torture for me, even with a tutor. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD when I was 30 years old, after my eldest son was diagnosed. Before his diagnosis, I would watch him struggle to pay attention and retain information. I knew what that felt like, to struggle to keep my eyes on a page I had no interest in reading. I also knew he was one smart cookie, sitting for hours developing his own levels in video games. It was like looking in a mirror.
After my initial “wait, what?” moment of diagnosis for myself, everything made sense. I don’t want to say I fell through the cracks, because my parents didn’t know. It wasn’t their fault. ADHD wasn’t as widely recognized as it is today. I recently found a copy of my IQ testing from 1987 (3rd grade) and could pinpoint all the comments that were red flags. One read, “she is very capable academically, but does not want to put forth the effort to succeed.” Mmmhmm. I see what you did there.
There are actually a few blessings that come with ADHD. One is the ability to block everything out and “hyperfocus” on something interesting or enjoyable. I spent hours poring over books, trying to learn about the best ways to teach my son (and ultimately myself). I learned to watch closely for indications that he was “zoning out” on me. I changed my thinking about his behavior, no longer finding it willful and obnoxious. I bend myself more to his quirks, because the outcome is awesome. Without this knowledge, he could have ended up just another kid “not putting forth the effort to succeed.” No, not in my house.