Dr. Jenny Seawell’s open letter to fellow parents begins with a message that all of us can relate to:
Parenting is a full time job. Even when we are not physically with our children, pieces of our hearts travel with them. We worry about their physical health and safety. We dream about their futures. But sometimes things don’t go as we hope.
Writing on her blog, The Pediatric Ninja, Dr. Seawell continues, with a specific group of parents in mind:
If you have a child who struggles with ADHD, it can be a very frustrating and often isolating experience. If you have a child with ADHD, you are not alone.
Any parent raising a child with special needs experiences some, if not all, of Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — when their child is diagnosed with a developmental, cognitive (learning), and/or a medical problem(s). Dr. Seawell’s grief emanates from ADHD — a diagnosis she didn’t want:
One of the hardest parts of helping your child with ADHD is the response of others. It can be difficult to stomach when others question the validity of your child’s diagnosis. There are people who blame you as the parent for not being able to handle your kid. But as difficult as this is, it can be even more difficult when others make assumptions about your child’s character.
Have you ever had a teacher tell you that your child was having issues because they were lazy? No work ethic? Didn’t care? These are hard things to hear as a parent. It is difficult to know that the people you entrust your child’s well-being to during the day truly do not understand your child.
Fortunately, Dr. Seawell is a pediatrician who knows a lot about children with ADHD:
- Children want to do well. If they could snap their fingers and have perfect grades, no friend issues, and stay out of trouble with their parents, I promise they’d do it. Beware of the words “I don’t care.” Many times, “I don’t care” is just shade thrown to cover up “I just can’t get it right.”
- ADHD is not a character flaw. But it sure as hell can look like one.
- Sometimes the social delays that come with ADHD can be more challenging than the hyperactivity and lack of focus.
- It’s not your fault. But you can help advocate for your child.
Closing her letter, I again think that Dr. Seawell’s words are appropriate for all parents to reflect upon because every parent knows another parent and child who are struggling to just make it through the day:
I know that you’re struggling. It is HARD. But it will get better and there are things you can do to help. Reach out to other parents who are also struggling. Reach out to your school. Call your pediatrician. And more than anything else, find a way to connect with your child. Their disability does not define them. And although it may make their path (and yours) certainly more challenging, it is no less rewarding.
Read Dr. Jenny Seawell’s open letter to parents of children with ADHD on The Pediatric Ninja here.