Thursday, June 14, 2012

Confessions from a Dad with ADHD

This will be a brief blog post. If I'm not careful, I'll start fixating on every detail and it'll become a chapter in a book. As evidence by the fact I'm desperately trying to keep my dissertation under 300 pages, so I'm more than prepared to write and write. 

ADHD doesn't go away. 

It just gets managed...hopefully. It's not simply a problem kids' have. It's biological, neurological and even protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADHD expresses itself in two ways. In lay terms, it's expressed in fight or flight. The fight comes from hyper-fixating on something such that disturbances just push you over the edge. By flight, I mean flightiness of sense of being frazzled. This second person may say, "Ah, butterfly! Oh, another one. And one more...." The first person just gets ticked the butterfly won't be still (that is, assuming he or she even notices because the person is thinking hard on some problem in his or her head).

The deal is that no one––including yourself––knows when you are under its influence. Because it involves your attention, one obviously can't simply get outside one's own thoughts to notice, "Hey, I'm hyper-focusing right now."  To be frank, it is often extremely difficult to discern between what is sin and what is ADHD. Those around you just ask in frustration, "What's your problem?" 

This has some negative effects on parenting. I can only speak for myself (I'm the "fighter" type). Here are a few, which I'll label as:


You simply don't spend the time you need with your kids. You may even avoid some activity because it really overwhelms you. The constant change, noise, and the need for the creative even disoriented thinking of kids play drive you to excuse yourself from the situation. After a while, patterns develop and you don't even know there's neglect. But there's always the guilt. 

Passive Attention

This sort of attention aims simply to pacify your child. You are either not all there or you are just paying the time keeper until you get back to something else. There's no heart connection and consequently your kids learn to expect distance from you and so they to get good at being distant themselves. Because there are not obvious signs of neglect, you never actively deal with it.


This refers to when everyone is paying attention to you because Dad (or mom) is upset or stressed. For me, this happens at meal times, typically at the beginning when everyone is transitioning. Things like smacking, tapping of forks, and yes spilt milk lead to someone to cry because dad's upset that the child is "not paying attention" to what they're doing or to what you've said 786 times before. No one feels like they can breath.

All the while, you don't even know you it. You are isolated in your own head. If you do realize it, then you feel trapped by your "personality." It's not something you can explain where others "get" you and your experience. But the fear grows.....One day, I'll wake up and the house will be quiet because the kids are gone. Finally, you can think clearly. Then, you'll realize how much you missed out on and how little your kids had of their dad or mom. That fear is painful. Your try not to fixate on it, but then again, you will because that's what you do....fixate your attention. And so, you find a distraction to calm the mind and conscience. And the cycle repeats itself.

Well, so much for a short blog entry. 

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