DO you find this title offensive? Good! It is.
How many of us with ADD/ADHD kids have left a conversation soaked in the vomit of horrible parenting advice?
“What he REALLY needs is a few welts with a leather belt, that’ll straighten him up”
“I would NEVER let my child act that way”
“He OBVIOUSLY needs more discipline”
This foul upchuck has decorated my perfectly lovely attire on more occasions that I can count, leaving its putrid scent on every part of my conscious. Well-meaning advice- as it is commonly called- is nothing more than an offensive barrage of insults aimed like a sniper rifle, at the parent; me.
In its simplest form, I call it ignorance. Webster defines Ignorance as “a lack of knowledge, understanding, or education: the state of being ignorant”
Ask yourself the following questions:
- If you are a janitor, do you give your surgeon lessons before undergoing an operation?
- If you are a dentist, do you tell the mechanic how to repair your car when it breaks down?
- If you are a stay home mom, would you show up on a construction site and make suggestions on the proper wood to use or how to lay a slab?
Chances are the answer is no. When you are not experienced in something, you are ignorant. I am not an Oncologist, I cannot treat a cancer patient. I am ignorant.
So why is it, that it seems perfectly acceptable for ignorant people, with otherwise decent intentions, to do exactly that; to storm parents with destructive criticism in the form of advice? The short answer: IT IS NOT!
As a parent we are perfectly within our rights to deny, revoke and rebuke these kids of destructive, forcible suggestions! It has taken me 7 years to get to this realization, and I owe my son an apology for every time I blindly followed this kind of horrid advice, and he paid the price for it.
I’ve swallowed the rotten words of people who aggressively tried to coerce me into believing that my son needed more extreme discipline, harsher punishments and stronger limits. These types of advice act like an ice pick, gouging out chunks of the parent’s spirit, self-esteem, confidence and hope. How dare they!? Now of course I am not speaking out against discipline, structure, routine or punishments, these things are crucial for children. What I am speaking against is the overuse of harsh discipline as a “fix” for children with disabilities. In the same way you would never expect a spanking to cure someone with autism, it is no more effective in “fixing” a child with ADD/ADHD. These children need our HELP not our RATH! They are struggling just as we are, to understand themselves, to hold onto their self image in a world tearing it apart day after day, and they WANT to be good. ADD/ADHD minds work fast, and are wired uniquely, they need unique techniques to thrive. The discipline tactics used in history may not have all been flawed, but in today’s society I see an enormous increase in alarming adult behaviors that may have stemmed from the parenting choices they were subjected to. Consider the number of adults who habitually resort to anger, bullying, hostility and fighting as a response to stressful situations? My guess is these adults came from homes where the main sources of discipline were fear and intimidation. I dont want that passed down to my children. I want their moral compass to come from within themselves not forced upon them by outside forces of fear and anger masquerading as “respect.” I want better! Dont you?
The expression “stay in your lane” never seemed more appropriate than in this context. If you are heavy under the weight of advice that does NOT come from someone experienced in raising a child with ADD/ADHD, or a place of positive encouragement, YOU DO NOT have to accept the offered advice.
It takes some time to build up the defenses we need, the heart of advocacy for our children, and the confidence to use the voice we have, but we must not relent!
If you are bombarded with advice that your gut tells you is wrong for your child, it is OK to stand against it!
You are a capable and wise parent! You are amazing! Did you forget? You have been equipped to raise the children gifted to you! It may not feel that way often, but the truth and the moment are not the same. The moment says “I can’t do this, I have failed, fallen short and feel incapable” but the truth says “I will find a way, I will keep pushing and I will succeed”.