Many of us have a struggle with getting our family and friends to understand or even believe that ADHD is real. As you and I both know, the struggle is very real!
It can be so frustrating when you hear from well-meaning loved ones that our child just needs more discipline. All you feel like doing is giving them your child for a day or two and have them see what it is really like, but you know that that won’t work. So we have to find a way to get them to understand what ADHD really is.
When my son was having a problem at day-care, all I heard from my mother was that she felt that the day-care was not doing their job properly and that there was nothing wrong with him. It wasn’t until he was expelled that I finally had some ammunition for her to believe that something was different. “Normal” children don’t get expelled from day-care, I used to say. Although that took awhile for her to believe that it wasn’t necessarily the day-care that just couldn’t handle him, she eventually did see things differently. However, my Dad was a different story. He is very old school and he believed that my son just needed a good hard smack from time to time. It wasn’t until we combined our houses and started living on the same property (in separate houses) that he started to see things differently. It took a couple of years but it seems that after he saw the discipline that we did implement he started to understand that there was something different about my son and it wasn’t just being a naughty child.
My point here is that it does take time for people to accept that there is something different, sometimes can be years, maybe it will be never.
You may need to ask yourself, how important is it that they accept your child’s ADHD? Is it really that important or can you live without the understanding? If you don’t have the understanding now, then if things don’t change, how bad would that be?
Obviously if you have someone constantly commenting on your parenting style then this can really get you down and it becomes a huge problem. The question you must ask here is, do you have to have this person in your life or can you have minimal amount of contact or none at all? Sometimes this journey sees us making tough choices and losing friends and family.
If you have no option and these people must be in your life, commonly parents, then here are some tips which may assist:
- Decide how much contact you must have with them. Can you avoid it or do you want to avoid it?
- How important is their opinion to you? Do you really need it or can you just let it go and tell yourself they are just uneducated in this subject?
- Ask them how much they know about ADHD. Ask them to describe to you what they understand ADHD to be. If they are completely off track, then educate them.
- Educate them. So many people really don’t understand ADHD and just see it as having a ‘naughty child’ Get as much information as possible and leave it around. If it is your family that doesn’t agree, then pop some information next to the toilet or somewhere it may be just picked up in the moment. Talk in general conversation about ADHD. The more you talk about it the more it will sink in.
- Understand that sometimes it is simply what the other person believes is right and there is no changing that. Accept that that is their view and then let it go. If they are constantly commenting on the way you handle your child, say something like. I appreciate your opinion, but this is how I handle my child and I would appreciate if you respect that. Advise them that you are receiving professional advice and if they are interested you can give them some information but what they are doing is sometimes hurtful.
Surround yourself with people who do understand or accept ADHD, constantly fighting with yourself around people accepting the subject does nothing for you or your child and ends up just bringing you down in general.
The reality is that some people are just never going to accept that ADHD even exists regardless of whether it is someone close to them or not, it is up to you whether you want to associate with them.
Paula is an ADHD coach, parent advocate and author who is passionate about helping parents with children living with ADHD and changing society’s opinion on ADHD. Paula is available for speaking events also.
If you want more information on how to work with your ADHD child feel free to contact Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org