2 Questions to Stop Asking About Your ADD/ADHD Child

Lisa Kaplin

When working with parents of children with ADD/ADHD I often get asked two questions that I put in the “not so helpful” category.  These questions won’t help your children manage their diagnosis better, nor will they make your family run more smoothly in any way.  Energetically, though, they will box you into a really negative framework, a way of looking at things that will make it more difficult for you to parent your children in a healthy way

Two Questions to Stop Asking:

    1. Is it possible that because I wasn’t so patient, or I periodically spanked my child, or I yelled at him, or I looked at her cross-eyed, that I caused the ADHD?

Here’s my short answer: NO.  Here’s the longer answer: no amount of good or bad parenting can cause or prevent ADD/ADHD.  There are many parenting tools that will allow you to better parent your child and to improve your home situation. But there is absolutely nothing you have done that has caused your child to have ADHD. 

Here’s what’s even worse about focusing on this concept.  You are keeping yourself in a really miserable-blame-doom-and-gloom loop. When you stay focused on the past, beat up on yourself, and have little patience, it’s hard to be in the present. You actually use up precious emotional energy on all of the “wrong” things. 

What’s the solution? Control what you can in the present, and let the rest go.  It’s possible that some of your parenting in the past didn’t help the situation, but SO WHAT? Let it go. You can’t change that, so look at it for a minute, and then focus on doing something different and more beneficial, now and into the future. 

    1. Shouldn’t I feel guilty for marrying my spouse who has ADHD and has obviously given it to my child?  Or should I feel guilty that my child has ADD and I have it too?

Short answer again: NO.  Here’s the longer response: do you feel guilty because your child has blue eyes or brown hair or is over 5 feet tall?  If not, then why would you feel guilty about an ADD/ADHD diagnosis?  We pass stuff on to our kids. Some of it is really good stuff, and some of it isn’t. But we can’t help what we pass on through genetics.   

Not all cases of ADD/ADHD have a genetic link, but many of them do.  Regardless of how your child developed ADD, it isn’t worth your time to focus on how you might be at fault.  It is, however, worth your time to find ways to take care of yourself so that you can be a calmer more confident parent to your children, whether they have ADD or not. 

Quit Playing the Blame Game

Parenting is difficult, sometimes brutally difficult.  Is it helpful to blame our selves for the issues that our children might struggle with?  If you are doing something as a parent that you are pretty sure could be adding to the problem, you want to either change it, or get some help to change it.  But blaming yourself is not only unhelpful; it often makes the situation even worse. 
When parents ask me either of the two questions above, I know that they’ve got themselves caught in that miserable-blame-doom-and-gloom loop. The guilt that comes with it only zaps them of happiness and motivation, which of course leads to more parenting challenges. 

Whether your child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, or the common cold, you will be at your best if you take stock of the situation, figure out how you can help, and do just that.  There is no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent; yet, all of your imperfections can be absolutely perfect if you let them be.  Start with the present and look forward to a life of joy and challenges with your child. You can’t blame yourself for what’s about to happen. But when you get there, you can celebrate!

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