The other day my son and I had a casual conversation about Attention Deficit Disorder, and I mentioned that his grandma – my mom – had ADD. Apparently this was no surprise to my son, who remembered grandma never walking, always running, to do whatever she needed to do, despite the fact that she was almost 88 years old when she died. (Shoveling snow at 3:00 am just because it was snowing was another fond memory.)
Later that day, as I was thinking about our conversation, I realized that while I had known for a long time that my mom had ADD, it never really registered with me that my dad does not. It explains so much now that I think of it. I’ve felt so many times as though I had disappointed him in some way. Even as an adult, I know there have been times when my behavior has completely confounded him. I know that he loves me, but I don’t think he understands me.
I believe that most people with Attention Deficit Disorder are like me; they’ve got one parent who has it and one who doesn’t. In a way, my kids were lucky because they have two parents with ADD. Things may get chaotic and confusing (and messy) at my house sometimes, but we all understand each other. There isn’t much blame to pass around because we all recognize that any of us is capable of the same type of behavior at any given moment.
So, are you the ADD parent or not? Here’s the thing: the parent that has ADD can often relate to the child with ADD. That’s a good thing if:
- The parent recognizes that they have it.
- The parent has taken the time to educate themselves about managing the symptoms.
- The parent shares what he or she has learned with their child.
Being the ADD parent can also be a not so good thing. This usually happens when:
- The parent either doesn’t know or doesn’t accept that they have ADD.
- The parent sees traits in their child that they do not like in themselves. These traits are often poorly managed ADD symptoms.
So what if you’re not the ADD parent? Well, then you might be like my dad, who doesn’t understand why his daughter acts the way she does. Not so bad on it’s own, as long as that confusion doesn’t get misinterpreted by your child as disapproval or as just not measuring up. A little education and an honest, consistent attempt to understand will go a long way towards fixing that.
There’s another scenario that can happen sometimes when you are not the ADD parent. Marriages and relationships sometimes don’t hold up under the strain of ADD, especially if it hasn’t been diagnosed or treated. Without that knowledge, all you see are actions and behaviors that you don’t understand and finally can no longer tolerate.
At some point, you begin to see those same actions and behaviors from your child. Maybe that’s when you get the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. Or maybe you knew beforehand that your child had ADD, but you never quite made the connection with your ex and their behavior. (Kind of like me and my dad, but different.)
Hopefully, you educate yourself about ADD for your child’s sake, and you do what you can to help them minimize their symptoms. And even more hopefully, you try hard not to let those symptoms in your child trigger emotions left over from the marriage.
I think that there’s a whole circle of life thing going on here; in understanding and accepting your child’s ADD traits, and teaching them how to manage them, aren’t you also walking the path towards understanding and acceptance for your ex?
And, by the way, if you get remarried, your path is joined by another’s. Unless you pick another ADD mate, you’ll need to show them the way towards understanding, too. Really, it’s the only way.