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Christmas Ups and Downs

Christmas Ups and Downs2013-12-27T12:39:41+00:00

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey Venting! Christmas Ups and Downs

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  • #123487

    Post count: 37

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who has days where I wish I could just run away from home! You know what? Even if I am the only one, I’m going to give myself a gift and let it be ok that I feel that way.
    I have ADHD, and so does my teenage son. We’re both medicated and see a family counselor, who helps A LOT.
    Positives first: He is a good kid with a good heart- I’ve seen it. He is passing all his classes in school. He’s funny as hell and very clever. He’s going along with our new plan to have him take his Vyvanse every day, vs. off on weekends, and this is making things more even-keeled around here. I have worked really hard and come a long way in adding more patience, diplomacy, and calmness into my skill set.

    Ok, here’s the the tough stuff: He’s also got Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This means he “displays an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, hostile, and annoying behavior toward people in authority.” This manifests in excessive arguing (literally, since he could talk), deliberately trying to annoy and upset others, being easily annoyed by others, blaming others for mistakes, frequent outbursts of anger/resentment (better when medicated and recently fed), spitefulness/revenge seeking, moody, and easily frustrated. Also, I’m his main target because of how alike we are and, having been the one thing he’d cling to since he was a baby, he’s completely rejecting me and doesn’t like me these days.

    And NOW, he’s a TEENAGER, which should in itself qualify as a challenging mental illness, with all its ups and downs, bouts of surliness and self-centeredness. Oh, and he’s got a girlfriend, which can be a plus because it makes him happy, but may be a minus too because they haven’t been able to see each other very much, and since he takes after me can it can surely be stressful to socially navigate those waters.

    My vent is this: I love Christmas, and this year was feeling especially festive because my mother (also ADHD, unmedicated due to heart issues) was coming down for the holiday. I got all the decorations out this year (sometimes I leave some things in storage), I got great gifts for everyone, and went about my festive ways despite this being the first year of his non-participation (he’s usually the one asking to put the tree up, watching specials and movies with us, etc.). My husband and I just carried on without him and let him be. But the closer Christmas got, the surlier he became. Still I didn’t let him destroy my enjoyment of the season. Then his dad took him shopping for a card for me (a Christmas tradition in our stockings) and he proceeded to change all the words in the cards on the rack to mean ones.
    And on Christmas Eve, I asked him what time he’d like to open presents, and he said 9am. We woke him at 9, and he refused to get out of bed and yelled that he was tired. Even in front of my mother, he was crabby, he was rude, he was mean, he was ungrateful, antisocial and generally ruined the holiday. I felt like taking some of his gifts away because of his horrible attitude. I really should have, in hindsight.
    I’d like to turn back the clock and have him come up with, buy, and wrap gifts for others with his own money, contribute to a needy children’s gift program, volunteer at the local homeless shelter and see what real gratitude looks like.
    Thank goodness my mom was here to cheer me, that part of it was very wonderful.

    I don’t know what a reasonable consequence for this behavior should be, what would you do? My judgement is clouded by anger that my Christmas was marred by hatefulness. But I’ve been dealing with this for a year now, this is my breaking point, it really is. I’m tired of being reasonable. Part of me wants to withdraw and go live by myself, I really do. The only thing stopping me is that leaving would give him exactly what he wants.

    Sad, Angry, and Tired of All This,


    Post count: 430

    I hear your frustration. I am wondering if I could relate my own experiences and ask a couple questions.

    What is the consequence for having ADD/ADHD and ODD? How do you punish a child/person to correct their behavior, because they have one or both of these conditions?

    I was always punished as a child for being… well… me. My behavior was unacceptable to my parents, so I was constantly being punished for things over which I had no control. I was not given the tools to recognize these behaviors let alone the tools I needed to correct them. So I turned from being a friendly social person, to being sullen and introverted. I got into less trouble that way.

    Have you tried to see the world from his perspective?

    Does he have the tools yet to at least recognize when he is being inappropriately argumentative?

    Does he have the maturity to stop himself, when he starts down the path to an argument or protest?


    I am sure the counseling you both are receiving is making difference. Perhaps asking the counselor for help for your son to express his frustration or discomfort in situations differently and for you for better responses?

    I don’t remember you giving his age but you did say he is a teen. The teens are tough enough on normals. Add ADD, ODD and mom’s expectations to have a “great” Holiday, might be too much to ask of him.  From his perspective, disappointing mom again, might be too much pressure and a self fulfilling prophecy leading to certain disappointment.

    In wonderfully inspired moment, my parents let me sit in my room and mourn the loss of a dog I had known my entire life. While not the happiest Christmas for me, it was one of the best. I did not have to live up to anyone’s (unreasonable) expectations. I could feel happy or sad or just be alone if I wanted. All they asked of me was “What do you want to do?”

    Even better than that, my brothers and sisters were ABSOLUTELY forbidden to mess with me.



    Post count: 10

    I wish I had the info that I have now when I was raising my son.  I’ve learned the hard way that one cannot punish ADHD behavior and get positive results.  Handling ADHD behavior in a child does require that the ADHD parent have some awareness and control over their own behavior.  It is staying calm to put the child, calmly, quietly, in a safe place where they can decompress if they are out of control. It is trying to the best of one’s ability to ignore the unwanted behavior, and praise the wanted behavior, as well as trying to find how the child learns best, and apply techniques to develop that.  It requires constant vigilance.


    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    What if, instead of addressing the issue with punishment or consequences, you turned it into a mutual learning experience by having a real heart-to-heart with each other about what happened?

    What was it that made him feel so bad that he acted out? And what can the two of you do so that next time something like that happens, you can sit down together and talk about it and figure out what to do to make things better?

    What if  you and your family were to re-think what you do at Christmas, if the “traditional way” brings too much stress and misery?

    Has anyone else here tried making their Christmas more ADD-friendly? What did you do? How did it work out? And what was it that made you decide to take this new approach?


    Post count: 906

    Though the ADHD and ODD needs to be taken into consideration, I don’t believe it should be used as an excuse. We do have some control over our behaviour and we do have the capacity to understand when we are behaving in an oppositional manner.

    lsdcat hit the nail on the head. Ignore unwanted behaviour, reward positive behaviour. This is called Behaviour Modification and when used in combination with natural consequences is extremely effective. Also, it should be discipline, not punishment. Punishment is very negative and unproductive. Contrary to popular belief, no child ever learned anything from being spanked, except how to lie to avoid being spanked. And that it’s okay to hurt people. Discipline means setting boundaries and guidelines and have set consequences for not following them. This is something that may be difficult for a parent with ADHD to do since you have difficulty with discipline and consistency yourself. But perhaps your family counsellor could help you with it, to work out a system that would work for both of you.

    Also, as the others have suggested, getting to the root of the problem would be helpful. This sounds like a little more than just being a moody teenager with authority issues. It may be that there is something bothering him that he is not telling you. Or it may be changes in his hormone levels and/or brain chemistry. It could also be the emergence of a new  disorder. Depression can cause people to be surly and mean spirited. Perhaps some one on one counselling sessions or a private chat with a doctor would encourage him to open up and talk about it. Sometimes it’s just too awkward to talk to your parents about things.

    As for Christmas, I love it too and I am a little depressed right now because I didn’t live up to my own standards for a “perfect Christmas” this year. I don’t even know where half of my decorations are, I haven’t done any baking and I didn’t even really manage to get the house cleaned up that much. But I am celebrating my accomplishments and making do with what I do have. I hung up some tinsel above the front window today and hung a little gold star in the center and I am very happy. The Christmas lights are reflecting off of it right now and making it sparkle. I realized after I put it up how much I had been missing it.

    So my ADHD modification is that I am just doing things a little at a time as I am able. And I am still decorating even though Christmas Day has come and gone. I don’t say christmas is over because it isn’t. Not until the Epiphany/Twelfth Night, on January 6th.

    It helps to count your blessings too, even though it sounds cliché. I have a roof over my head, more than enough to eat and we have heat and hydro, which makes us better off than many,many others..

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