Month: May 2019

Parent Q&A: Questions About ADHD

Question: My ex-husband, and father to our 11-year-old son, insists that our son’s ADHD is my fault, a result of my parenting style. He has an authoritarian parenting style, while I strive to be more authoritative. My son’s counselor is confident of his ADHD diagnosis and says that ADHD isn’t anyone’s fault, but I still can’t help but question if this is something I’ve caused. Can ADHD can be caused by the way someone parents?

Answer: Parenting, whether it’s poor or optimal, cannot and does not cause ADHD. ADHD is a neurobiological, neurodevelopment disorder that is present from birth and manifests in different ways across the lifespan. While trauma or parenting can modify a child’s symptom presentation and coping in some ways, neither plays a causative role in ADHD.

Imaging studies show differences in the structure and activity between brains of people with ADHD and those without. In people with ADHD, there is a consistent pattern of below-normal activity in the neurotransmission of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. As a result of the lower levels of dopamine, there is understimulation in the reward and motivation centers in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is found to be thinner and matures more slowly than non-ADHD brains. Please know, this does not imply any deficit in intelligence or in the ability to succeed.

An accurate diagnosis of ADHD should include:

  • an in-depth clinical history of both the child and the family
  • a physical exam to help rule out other possible causes of symptoms
  • a clinical assessment using standardized behavior rating scales or questionnaires
  • an evaluation of the child’s intelligence, aptitude, personality traits, and/or processing skills

A complete neuropsychological evaluation or educational exam is not always necessary, though if there are any concerns about learning or processing, full testing is generally recommended.

My point in relaying this information is to assure you, parents don’t cause ADHD, and parenting, regardless of your style, doesn’t cause ADHD. If your son has ADHD, he’s had it since he was born, it just may not have manifested in symptoms one may have seen until more recently because ADHD manifests differently across the lifespan and can look different from individual to individual. No worries, you didn’t cause your son’s ADHD.

Question: How do I get my child with ADHD to stop repeating behavior he CONTINUOUSLY gets in trouble for day after day? It’s exhausting. How many more times do I have to repeat the same thing? How many times do I have to discipline him for the same behavior? I put him in time out, I take things away from him. Nothing seems to make him stop just doing the same behavior all over again.

Answer: Kids with ADHD also have executive function deficits, which can contribute to children acting out more from their emotions, not logic or reasoning. Often we can tell them time after time after time, and even give them consequences for their misbehavior, but because they’re operating so much from their emotional brain, it doesn’t always click the first time (or the fiftieth). They struggle with decision making and always making better choices because of the deficits in executive functioning, which are housed in the thinking brain (the prefrontal cortex, which doesn’t fully mature until we’re in our mid-20s anyway). Remain consistent and firm. It may take multiple repeating before they get it. Also, try to wait to process feelings and the behavior or offer any logical reasoning to your child until he is calm and not totally thinking from his emotional brain. People cannot fully comprehend logical reasoning until they’re able to use their thinking brain too. Things said while they’re still in their emotional brain will most often go unheard, ADHD or no ADHD.

35 Things My Sons Should Know

In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to share a short list of 35 of the things I want my sons to know as they grow to be young men. I have a 13-year-old son and a 6-year-old son, both as polar opposite as they could be, and I love them with everything I am and everything I will be. I was not raised by my biological mom after I was five years old; my grandparents took my brother and me in to their home to raise us until adulthood after my mom became unable to care for us anymore. Both my mother and grandmother have since passed away. I miss them always, but I can’t help but feel some sadness and disappointment that they were not able to watch my boys grow up. C and J, it is an honor and a privilege to be your mom. I love you.

Love always. xoxoxo

Things My Sons Should Know

  1. You will always be my babies. Sorry, but it’s not going to change.
  2. I have loved you even before you became a part of me.
  3. Your mom knows you better than anyone else in this world.
  4. An entire bottle of cologne will not help you smell better. (Sorry.) Go with a little over a lot.
  5. Go to school events. One day you might regret not going.
  6. Choose kindness. You never know what others are going through.
  7. Treat others the way you would like to be treated (even if you’re not being treated that way yourself).
  8. Choose your company wisely.
  9. Ask them out if you want to get to know them better. Don’t be afraid to let go if it’s not the right person for you.
  10. If s/he cheats on you, they don’t know you’re worth. Find someone who does.
  11. Don’t tell your mom you hate her. You’ll regret it.
  12. Know that I always try my best.
  13. Some people will never like you. Don’t worry about it.
  14. Don’t let the world make you bitter. Believe in what is good.
  15. Don’t believe stereotypes. Get to know people.
  16. You will make mistakes. No one is perfect all the time.
  17. Don’t let your mistakes define you, but learn from them.
  18. Strive to learn something new every day.
  19. Practice gratitude every day.
  20. Take no one for granted.
  21. Your words can build or destroy. Never forget that.
  22. Choose your words and actions wisely.
  23. Think before you act.
  24. You are more wonderful than you will ever know.
  25. Your mental health is more important than your grades or what school or program you get into.
  26. Take time to take care of yourself.
  27. No matter how angry you might get at me, I am and will always be your mom and you will always be my heart. I will never give up on you.
  28. I will never leave your side. Even if it’s in spirit, I’ll always be cheering for you.
  29. Aspire to do your best and when you’re not able, try to do better the next time.
  30. It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to be cruel.
  31. Spend time with family. We’ll be here throughout every broken heart and broken friendship and all the happiest moments of your life, if you let us.
  32. Be careful who you tell your secrets to. Not everyone should be privy to every aspect of your private life.
  33. Treat animals kindly. They are our best secret keepers and most faithful supports.
  34. Never pass up the opportunity to tell someone something you like or love about them.
  35. No one is strong all the time.

Happy Mother’s Day to all, moms of boys and girls, moms of grown adults, moms of furry or scaly pets, moms who have lost their child before their time, and moms who wait for their time. Blessings to each and every one of you.

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