Parents of Children with ADHD Must Get Support Themselves

Parents, does this sound like you?  You know you should put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping your child, but it goes against your nature as a parent.  This guest post by Penny Williams, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, is dedicated to you.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be isolating. First, there’s the extra time invested to manage ADHD: additional doctor’s appointments, therapist visits, occupational therapy, maybe physical therapy, school meetings, research, discovering and trying the next this-might-just-make-it-better gadget, diet management, medication management… I could go on for quite a while listing all the things I spend my time on while trying to manage my son’s ADHD, SPD, Dysgraphia, and Giftedness. Add to that the epidemic of judgment and misunderstanding of ADHD running rampant in society and it’s a sure recipe for seclusion.

Compounding this problem is the imperative nature of gaining support as a parent of an ADHD child, yet not feeling you have time to make it a priority. I must take care of myself… but I must take care of my child first. In order to take care of our children’s additional needs successfully we must take care of our own needs as well. It’s the put-the-oxygen-mask-on-yourself-first-before-helping-others phenomenon. It is common sense but goes against our nature as moms.

I am no exception. Making myself a priority is especially difficult. I finally carved out a few small bits of time for support, but I’m still working on taking time for myself in a way that has nothing to do with ADHD.

Here are some places you can find support as a parent of a child with ADHD:

  1. The Internet. Of course. Whenever I have a question, I always consult my good friend Google first. Where there’s ADHD information online, there’s usually a community of those in the trenches strategizing and commiserating. A few of the larger communities:
    1. {a mom’s view of ADHD}: Yes, this is my own website and I’m astonished every day by how much this community has grown in the nearly three years since I created the blog. Our community fosters a real sense of belonging with many reminders that your uncharacteristic parenting experience is not unique to you.
    2. ADDitude Magazine: This website has a wealth of information on all things ADHD from experts, parents, and those who have ADHD themselves. In addition, they have a great new forum called ADDConnect for interacting with others with similar experiences.
    3. Parents of Children with ADHD: This is a large forum on Facebook to interact with other parents of ADHD children.
    4. Local Support Groups: Attend local support group meetings. You can locate a CHADD group, or consult your doctor (especially therapists) for resources. In my area, there’s a children’s mental health support group organized by a local non-profit.
    5. Create a group. Personally, I wanted a more relaxed setting for support than a formal monthly support group meeting with strangers — so I created my own group (which right now is just three moms, including me). By talking openly about ADHD on Facebook, I discovered that a former co-worker’s daughter has ADHD and learning disabilities, and connected with a friend of a high school friend too. After several weeks of trading notes online, I asked if they’d be interested in getting together two mornings a month for coffee. There was a resounding “yes” and we’ve been meeting that way ever since. We even got out kids together over the summer. These meet-ups have provided camaraderie I thoroughly needed. We tell stories, share experiences, laugh and cry together, and sometimes we talk very little about ADHD.
    6. Therapy: Many parents of children with special needs attend psychotherapy themselves. You might talk about your feelings in parenting your child or about behavior modification and techniques to better meet your child’s needs. I get this support from my son’s therapist in his sessions.

I know it often feels like you’re all alone when you are the parent of a child with special needs — like no one understands what your life is like. Truly, most people don’t understand, but there are many who walk a parallel parenting journey. Seek out those with similarities for your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of your child.

Penny Williams is the creator and editor of {a mom’s view of ADHD}. She is also a freelance writer, real estate broker, wife, and mother of two living in Asheville, N.C. She has published several pieces in ADDitude Magazine, the #1 national publication dedicated to ADHD, and The High Desert Pulse article, When Ritalin Works.  When not writing, she can usually be found behind a camera.


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5 Responses

  1. […] Parents of Children with ADHD Must Get Support Themselves […]

  2. Amelia

    Very Helpful Resources List . Thank you for sharing!

  3. Bambi Eubanks

    Penny, I see there is not a MOM support group in Las Vegas, where are you located? Thank you, Bambi

  4. Avis

    I am feeling like a bad mom because I got frustrated with my son yesterday. I definitely need support. Thanks for sharing this information.

  5. C. L. Starkweather

    Let me introduce myself. I am CL Starkweather. I have written 9 children’s books and consider myself a new author! One book that I wrote and read, specifically to a friends son, who is 6 yrs old. and has ADD/ADHD from what his father told me. To my amazement, he sat quietly, put his arms on the table and leaned forward resting his little head, cocked sideways staring off as I read to him, “Seymour the New York Pigeon.” He sat through the entire story didn’t move an inch! Granted, it was a short story but he sat quietly for almost 15 minutes, listening to every word. I may have a fun story for our little ADD/ADHD sweethearts out there. I would love to post it and get some feed back from the parents out there! And more importantly to my young audience! Please email me if you would like to hear more about Seymour! I’d love to hear from you! Like I said, I am a new author, not published yet and could really sincerely use the positive and negative input! So please email me!
    Please feel free to write me an email!