Connection & Information: Secrets of a CHADD Conference


Parenting a Child with ADHD Can Be Lonely

It’s easy to feel like you’re in it by yourself, that your friends don’t really get it (e.g., “You just need to let him fail, then he’ll figure it out.”). Really? If that was true, then given all his struggles, he should have the entire meaning of life figured out by now!

Your friends mean well, and perhaps their advice applies to their own kids, but too often that advice doesn’t work for your kid with ADD/ADHD.

A lot of the advice you get that doesn’t really work for you assumes that parental behavior is the driving force behind children’s behavior. As parents, we like to think that we have the ability to influence most aspects of our kids’ behavior. But experience repeatedly tells us that is not as true as we would like to think.

The challenge for every parent is to figure out what things we can influence and what things we need to accept as either unchangeable or not worth the strife to change. This is especially true when parenting kids with ADHD, because it can be that much more confusing to figure out what will work with some consistency.

This is where the loneliness comes in. It’s a natural tendency to seek input from others, starting with our friends and family. Unfortunately, if your kid has ADHD and theirs doesn’t, the advice on some topics may not be as helpful as you would hope. After a while, you may stop seeking input on thorny issues, since you just don’t feel understood. It doesn’t help that the advice given has a judgmental undertone implying that you are somehow doing things wrong.

Find Support at the CHADD Conference

This is why it’s so important to find the right crew to seek advice from, whether it’s another friend with a child with ADHD, the good folks here at ImpactADHD, a local support group meeting … or the biggest ADHD conference of the year, hosted by CHADD!

As the co-chair for this year’s conference, I admit that I have a biased opinion. But I wouldn’t have taken the job (unpaid, by the way) if I didn’t feel that attending the conference is an investment with great payoffs, for both parents and professionals.

What’s unique about the CHADD conference? It brings together everyone interested in ADHD: parents, adults with ADHD, treatment providers of all kinds, researchers, advocates, etc. Of course, many attendees fall into more than one category. The best presenters in the world are standing at the front of the room, and there is a ton of wisdom in the seats. And in the hallways. And in the coffee line.

The CHADD Conference is a golden opportunity to really immerse yourself in understanding the many intricacies of ADHD, both from world-renowned experts and from the other parents who have also been there. This will help you sort out which of your kids’ behaviors to attempt to influence (and how), and which to try to live with.

How Can a Conference Help?

By taking a few days to really get into understanding ADD/ADHD, you integrate it in a way that is difficult to do in bits and pieces while squeezing it in between homework checks and emptying the dishwasher. If you come with specific questions, you will have them all answered, as well as lots of questions you didn’t even have. . . yet. You’ll leave knowing what questions to bring back home to your school, to the professionals you work with, and to your child.

This is helpful because as your kids move through different developmental stages, parenting is a moving target.

If you find your way to the CHADD conference this November:

  • Don’t be shy: talk to everyone who stands still long enough to start a conversation. As informative as the conference is, it’s the people who make it the most meaningful.
  • Stay connected: as easy as communication is these days, it doesn’t matter if your new friends live across the street, or across the country. Once you know them, you can be ongoing sources of support for each other.
  • Look around: It can be therapeutic to sit in a large ballroom for the keynotes and see how many other people are also there, struggling with lots of the same stuff your family is. You’re not alone anymore.

And one last temptation:

  • The 2015 CHADD Conference will be in New Orleans, LA, a magical city with a lively vibe, music everywhere, a strong appreciation for food even in the cheap places, and an easy walkability. We will be right downtown, so it will be easy to get away with your new friends.

My guess is that after a few days away, you will return home recharged and more appreciative, armed and ready to parent with information, connection and inspiration.

I strongly encourage you to consider coming to the CHADD conference this year, November 12-14. As you learn from your ImpactADHD community, an investment in your education and support is an investment in your family and your children’s future.

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