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Embracing Your ADHD as a Parent

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Me and My Son playing in the snow.

Oftentimes, when I talk to parents who have ADHD about their children, I'm met with a great deal of frustration and negativity. Usually it's passed off as whimsical, or sarcasm, but usually you can tell that the parent is only half kidding. I've had some conversations with many of these parents and many times I'm told that they just wish they could be more organized or patient with their kids. The one common thread among them though is that most of them are trying to fight their ADHD. Now, I'm not going to invalidate any of these struggles because as we all know, ADHD does create a laundry list of complications when it comes to parenting. But in some cases, I think it's better to go with our nature and "embrace the chaos" or so to speak by following our ADHD instincts.

Embrace Your Inner Child

One of the things I love the most about having ADHD is the fact that our brains crave novelty and excitement. Do you know who else craves those same things? Our kids! Having ADHD is like permanently having that 5-year-old version of ourselves locked inside our head so that anything and everything we do that is new gives us that thrill that we had of discovery when we were kids. For many, this can seem like a hindrance to being a responsible parent. After all, society has taught us that parents need to be steadfast and stern in order to be respected. To me, however, I see it as a way to connect and bond with our children that many other parents never get the opportunity to experience. Respect, then, is gained through compassion and understanding.

Growing up, I always had a curious mind and was constantly exploring new experiences. From going on adventures in the forest or finding and building "forts" in forested parks near my suburban neighborhood to building robots and doing science experiments. As I grew into adulthood, that sense of curiosity and adventure never went away.

Many people choose to subdue that sense of childlike curiosity when they become adults, especially after they become a parent. I have to wonder though if at some point they begin to feel like something is missing in life. After I became a father, I chose to embrace that childlike sense of wonder. This, in my opinion, is the best part of my ADHD I have ever embraced. It has helped me truly feel connected with my children, and in turn, helped them learn and grow. Consciously choosing to hold on to that sense of wonder has brought far more joy to my life for the simple fact that it drives me towards that next new experience. And having that sense of curiosity is absolutely something that I strive to instill in my children.

My Daughter, Grant Gustin, and ADHDNerdDad at Ace Comic Con
Enjoying Ace Comic Con with my daughter.

Let Their Routines Build Your Routines

Another part about embracing your ADHD, is accepting that there are some aspects of it which need to be controlled such as impulsivity, and time management. Most of the time this is a challenge, but in the case of parenting I see it as a bonus. After all we hate having to create routines and schedules for our children anyways, this is the perfect opportunity to create them for ourselves as well! And since we have to keep up with the routines for our children, well that's just an extra incentive and reminder to keep to our own routines. One added bonus to creating routines for our children is that it creates good habits early on for them. And since ADHD is highly genetic, the likelihood that our children will have the same struggles as us is likely when they become adults as well. This makes these skills we are teaching them now even more valuable later on in life for them.

Does this mean that we can't follow our nature and be spontaneous or impulsive at all? Heck no! In fact, being spontaneous once in a while can be a good thing. Doing things like a sudden play date at the park or taking a spontaneous road trip can be great ways to teach them that it's okay if the routine is broken every once in a while.

"I can't," Doesn't Mean "I'm Lazy"

Many of us who grew up with ADHD tried to tell those around us when a task was too overwhelming or complex for us by saying "I can't do this." Unfortunately, most of us were probably met with a response of "you're just being lazy, or you just need to try harder." For many of us, this was incredibly damaging because it made us feel like we weren't capable. One thing I've learned through this experience is that, when someone says they can't do something, chances are there is a good reason for it.

This holds true for our children as well. If my children ever say they can't do something, I'm not going to criticize them, or tell them a generic "try harder". I'm going to ask them what the obstacle is, and I'm going to help them find a way to overcome that obstacle. Because lord knows, we have enough challenges in life as it is even without ADHD. We don't need to have someone invalidating our struggles on top of that. This will instill self-confidence and critical thinking skills in our children as well as the self-awareness they need to know when it's okay to ask for help.

Do any of these parenting tips resonate with you? Do you have some of your own you would like to share? If so, let me know on my website or come join our Discord server

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