Your kid is just a brat… I’ve actually been told this… to my face… by more than one person!
I’ve had some of my closest family members tell me my son is a brat, that his behavior is a reflection of my failures as a parent, he acts the way he does because he’s over medicated, he acts the way he does because he’s under-medicated, his diet is why he has ADHD, or my all time favorite… he just needs a good ass-whoopin’.
Yes, I’ve really been told all of these ridiculous things by the people closest to me. The ones that I would have hoped knew me well enough to know that I spend HOURS researching ADHD and mental illness. That I did not come to the decision to medicate my son lightly. That using medication is not the only thing we rely on. That I also schlep him back and forth to the psychiatrist no less than 3 times/month. That I am in regular contact with his teacher and school nurse. That I enroll him in any “extra” skill building class offered by his school. Most of all, I would have hoped that those close to me would have known that what I really needed while I was putting all of my energy into finding my son the help he needs, was a little less judgment and a little more compassion. I wish they had offered me a warm hug and a cup of coffee. I wish they would have made an attempt, even the slightest bit of effort to understand and to help before offering up their horrible, unsolicited advice.
For me, the most appalling part of it all is that these little nuggets of “wisdom” come from people who have absolutely no personal or professional experience with ADHD or mental illness. These self-proclaimed experts have no more knowledge on the topic than I have on how to install a septic tank. They haven’t experienced the last 4 years of struggle, the pure exhaustion I feel after having spent 25 minutes trying to get my 8 year old to put his shoes on, the complete and utter helplessness I feel at watching him spin out of control because he can’t remember where he put his library book, the sleepless night after sleepless night I have had worrying that I’m doing absolutely everything wrong and screwing up this wonderful little human being for ever. And yet, they had the audacity to judge me and more upsetting, him.
It has reached the point that I’ve turned down family obligations or invitations from friends that would put B and myself in a situation that induces massive amounts of stress for both of us and unwanted comments from others because in the end, I’d rather it be just the two of us in our cozy little bubble than endure any more blows to his or my self-esteem.
So I ask you this… the next time you feel the need to offer unsolicited advice to someone about their child’s mental illness, just stop. Don’t. Bite your tongue. Instead, offer them a hug, a coffee, send them a note of encouragement – hell, go crazy and send flowers! And if you’re feeling really adventurous, offer to take their child to the park for an hour so we “horrible” parents can have a few guilt-free moments of silence and solitude.