Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey My Story Work in Progress

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    Work in Progress seems to cover most of my story. Kate Kelley’s book “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!” was a huge wake-up for me. I already had a son with severe ADHD, and reading that book explained why I never seemed to be able to help him much. I was drowning too, and didn’t even know I was in the water.

    I’m still struggling to help both of us, and I’m in the process of being diagnosed. I had a setback when I became pregnant with my third child last Sept. in the middle of trying to find a medication to help. Suprisingly the unplanned pregnancy didn’t send me into an emotional roller coaster like I was afraid it would. Now, I have another appt for this month and I’m hoping to quickly find some meds that can get me to a point of focus to deal with the other issues in my life that would go away if I could “just force yourself to pay attention.”

    I love my children, but it’s hard to raise three alone, especially when I can barely keep myself on track. Usually I feel like I’m doing an okay job, but…  and the buts are equal to the number of “If I could just…” that continually run through my head.

    Just here looking for a support group (duh) that is actually supportive, and not critical of every mistake.

    Patte Rosebank

    @megan, this is that supportive support group you’ve been looking for!

    Meds are like training wheels.  They’ll help you while you’re learning how to do things, but you’ll still have to learn how to do those things for yourself.

    “…Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?” is full of insights and tricks for helping someone with an ADHD brain & ADHD working methods, to function better in this neuro-typical world.  Rick & Dr. J.’s book “ADD Stole My Car Keys” is a slim book, loaded with tips & tricks that they’ve personally found to work for them.  I can tell you that they work for me, too.

    This past Christmas, I created and followed a solid plan & schedule, and I involved my (chaotic, micro-managing, undiagnosed ADHD) mom in this, stressing that she’d trained me well, so she could trust me to do this stuff, and go and do something else.

    Result:  Instead of being the usual annual series of chaos & wars, this Christmas went remarkably smoothly (with just a few minor skirmishes, that I ignored, while immersing myself in doing the things that needed to be done), until it all collapsed spectacularly into one of the usual family screaming matches, and my brother & I left.

    But, until the very end, it had all worked!


    Yes, I really liked how that book was set up, broken into quick paragraphs and I’m currently re-reading it with a highlighter. I have also read “ADD Stole my Car Keys” on my kindle…the trick now is to wrestle my kindle from my kids when I want to browse through it again. I may have to just order it in actual book form.

    Your family sounds very similar to mine, but instead of trying to organize and help, I retreat into myself and ignore most of it. My mom is also an undiagnosed micromanaging ADHDer, but she only gets into brawls with me, probably because I have it the worst of my sisters (2 of my 3 sisters have it, only 1 was ever diagnosed); I didn’t marry the right person and I had kids instead of becoming a workaholic so they are all very concerned with my lack of money, job skills, etc. Mostly, they are all very codependent, but instead of me being an alcoholic, I’m the black sheep that they have to keep in line.

    I’ve definitely needed a support group like this for awhile!


    @ megan.

    Dude. Raising three children alone would be an enormous challenge for anyone – never mind raising a kid with ADHD when you have it yourself. So, I say you deserve a medal of valor for even being a mom, for getting out of bed every morning, for making sure they have clothes and food.

    I am in a stable long-term marriage and find the whole parenting project almost impossible and frequently terrifying. We are a family of four with a $20K annual income. Just staying afloat is a big deal.

    My sons are older now: 14, 16. They have their own lives. When they were smaller it was easier because their physical needs and demands motivated me to connect and participate. Now that they’re more self-sufficient, and realize I am not a goddess but just some random goofball who gave birth to them (they seem a bit annoyed about this, actually) it is much, much harder. I feel like they’re slipping away, that I’m not there enough, I’m not present enough, and am not really sure how to be at this point, especially as they are more inclined to push me away. I worry about my younger son who has ADHD and is not in a very good place emotionally. That kid is a little too “emo.”

    I, quite frankly, am a crappy parent. So I probably can’t be very helpful, other than to say I hear that it’s hard, but I would hope you don’t feel you are a bad person because it’s hard. None of us plans to have ADHD. Give yourself credit for making it this far. No one knows better than we do how much work it is to just stay alive and keep going.

    A potentially helpful theory is to try to put the ADHD kid in environments that promote success for him, where he can do what he does best and gain confidence in those abilities.

    When I look back on my own utterly crappy childhood, I realize that taking art classes was a great thing  for me, because I was good at it, and got recognition and praise for doing it. That allowed me to build something of an identity, and to have one corner of my life I could own and control.

    With my ADHD kid, I’m thinking maybe, since he’s a great writer, I might offer him cash for word count. Because he really cares about money right now, he might actually go for it. We’ll see. Geez – anything to get him off the Internet.

    One sliver of good news: This is a kid we thought in third grade would never learn to read, but he did, and now he’s quoting Nietzche (not that Neitzche is who I’d most want him to be quoting, but at least he knows who the guy is, and I am informed it is pronounced NeetCHA.) My point being…what was my point? Oh. That what looks bleak can change. One thing about him that amazes me is that he has a great deal of empathy for others. He is the kind of kid who will see someone sitting alone on the playground and go talk to them. He also said, when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, “A husband and a father.” What little boy says that?

    What do you experience as the greatest challenges of parenting?

    My greatest challenge (I have given up on keeping house) is to be there, be present, check in. I don’t set limits or boundaries, which I know is bad, but I was not brought up with any particular structure I can recall, so I don’t really know how to do that stuff. I mean, seriously? Do people actually tell their kids they’re grounded? Or does that just happen on TV? My parents were struggling with their own issues, so as a kid I learned early on that if I was going to survive at all, I better show up and do what was expected, so I did well in school, one of the few places I received any attention. Kids adapt.

    I am good at helping with homework.

    My older child developed superior guitar playing skills all on his own, is getting straight A’s in school, and is at the top of his high school class. He’s a math whiz, and does so much soccer practice that he’s been offered a chance to coach younger kids. No credit to me whatsoever. In fact, I think his friends’ parents are sort of raising him for me, as he is hardly ever home.

    But my point there is…you don’t have to do it all yourself, because in reality, you can’t. So don’t put that pressure on yourself to be the all-seeing, all-knowing goddess they think you are when they’re small.

    I am hopeful that just listening and being kind are important factors in raising kids. I am also hopeful that letting them see me do what I love to do, and letting them see how I try to treat other people well, will leave a lasting impression.

    That’s all I got, but hang in there.

    I am definitely interested in how other parents are managing.


    @sdwa, Thanks for the compliments and support! I don’t really hear that very often, so it’s surprising when I do.

    My son is a little emo too, though I don’t worry about that as much as the fact that he’s such a boy that I don’t generally know what to do with him. I was raised with 3 sisters, and I babysat families that had girls; I’ve never really spent much time around males of any age except my dad, and he’s a pretty unique person. My son likes football, so this last fall I signed him up and went to all his games – even though I had no idea what was going on for most of it- and I try to encourage him when I can, though I thought it was hard before when he has ADHD, now he has it and he’s starting puberty and the whole ‘challenge every adult’ thing, and it’s exhausting.

    I hear you on the money issues. That’s close to what I bring home (and most of that is because of the U.S.’s tax return weirdness, I actually earn about half that) and it’s really hard. Especially when avoiding a bill is so much easier than admitting I can’t afford to pay it.

    My greatest challenges as a parent is keeping up with the details. Knowing who needs to be where, when, and how much I have to do to make that happen. And standing up for them when I disagree with how someone else is caring for them. I need the help, so am afraid to say that I don’t like it when they do…whatever it is I don’t want them doing.

    Like this winter break my 8yr old daughter told me she had to work on this school assignment and it was important she got it done. Then I worked every day but the holidays and forgot about it, and she never mentioned it again (I think she is so used to finishing her homework at school she forgot she had it as well), so this morning when we were frantically trying to get everyone out the door she was in tears because she was going to disappoint the teacher for not having this done. She has the opposite problem of her brother; not only does she not have ADD, she’s really smart and in advanced classes. Only the advanced classes require parental involement because it’s things they have to do on the internet, or interviewing people; things I have to help with. Which is fine, except I don’t really have time.

    Those are the things that make me feel like a crappy parent. But I know for the most part, being a parent is one of the few things I’m really good at. I know what they need, how much discipline to dish out, and when they just need a friend. The problem is providing all that and still get to work and them to school on time. I’ve always said “The best thing about being a single parent is I get to make all the decisions myself; the worst is I have to make all the decisions myself.” It’s impossible to be all to everyone all the time, but as their fathers have very little to do with them I don’t really have another option.

    I’m terrible with housework as well, though I haven’t given up on it, it’s just sort of winning the silent war I have going on. I hate having people over because of it however, and that means it bothers me enough to keep fighting it. That, and I’m not a fan of sharing my bed with piles of clean clothes, which I have done for the last 3 days because while I’ve been washing and drying, no one has been putting away. (and when they whine about not having clothes to wear, I want to throttle them).

    I do not provide consistant structure, though I would like to. And I say no to my kids frequently. I ground them and make them “earn” back whatever it was I grounded them from. I’ve gone so far as to take every single thing out of my son’s room except his bed and dresser for a month when he threw the F-bomb at my dad while they were disagreeing about something. He had to then do chores and random acts of kindness to earn back each piece of furniture, toy, and wall hanging that had come out of his room. (I made sure to return the stuff he didn’t care about first so he wouldn’t stop once he got back “his” stuff).

    The cash for word count sounds like a great idea; my advice would be to make sure you have enough money to realistically follow through so he doesn’t get diappointed and give up; also to make it a “value-added” word count. As in, his story has to make sense even if he makes it roundabout.

    My kids are all really smart (they are 11, 8, and 6months) – Admittedly with the baby it’s pretty hard to tell, but she seems like she knows what’s going on – and I’m glad I had them. They gave me some much-needed unconditional love that had been missing from my life, and successfully raising them (so far, I realize it’s a bit early to expect them to move out and get jobs) has allowed me to earn some self confidence.

    I think you deserve some credit for raising what sounds like great kids: you were at least there. They had to learn some of it from you. If all they learned is what appears to me to be a great perseverance it has helped them. And if their friends’ parents want to help out and provide space in their home; I say Hoorah and let them. I don’t let my son go to many of his friends’ houses because they are all from unsavory homes; my son is attracted to and becomes friends with broken things, kids, animals. It’s hard for him to make friends with people who are…not just normal, but who would make good decisions when left to their own devices. My 8yr old, on the other hand, carefully selects her friends based on their personality. She doesn’t fall into friendships, she develops relationships. It’s freaky.

    Just listening and being there are the two most important factors in being a parent. I think that’s why your kids are doing so well.

    I don’t have all the answers, but some days I’m more positive I have some of them, and that regardless, they’ll muddle through because of, or in spite of, me.


    SDWA, I like the way you said “Dude” at the beginning of your post. Cool. It’s not fun to see you being so hard on yourself as a parent though. I feel the same way. But I try not to encourage the part of my brain that sets all my negative self talk into motion. It’s an endless onslaught of harassment and pain. It’s not the real me.

    The whole post was excellent though, good reading. Utterly crappy is a good way to describe how lots of us experienced our childhoods. I wish I could make that all better/different. I’m trying to have a lot of compassion for me instead of feeling shame about my behavior. Being a parent was my chance to “be a hero in the world”. Fortunately I also put my daughter into therapy for 2 years when she was living with me. I also did a lot of reading. Mostly a book by John Bradshaw. I took a few parenting classes. I was in therapy but probably half the sessions were spent getting parenting advice. My daughter was a dynamic little firecracker when she was lil. His parenting ideas are a little bit dated nowadays. It’s amazing how different the world has become in 20 years. It’s no surprise how smart your math whiz musician son is. You write really well. Reminds me of toofat. Only he’s a dude. Duh!.

    Larynxa, thanks for talking about that book, I’ll get my butt to the book store and get it. No more procrastination. It’s totally true, this support group is an excellent web site. And I like it too!. I need to get a couple books my therapist suggested I get. She asked me again to get the “answers to distraction” by Dr. Ned Hallowell one. I’ve got so dang many books waiting for me to read them. Got a couple more for Christmas too. It’s hard work but it’s getting easier to read and write. I decided tonight while I was acting like Ashockleys thread about going to be late, getting up late was a playground, to ask the doc about letting me see the psychiatrist again. It’s possible that I get too stressed out during the holiday/winter season and may need ritalin…. maybe. My pride is ridiculous. Painfully so.

    Stick around megan, I can’t remember how long you’ve been here but this is such and awesome and articulately compassionate, loving, and fun! group of people… I’m positive we’re part of a powerful force for good. Shocking to find so much good in the same Internet that has so much junk smeared all over it. We find what we’re looking for. I’m just careful to try and just come here and sometimes youtube, maybe a quick dart in and out of facebook in case someone tells me something important and doesn’t have the brains to call me. Yep, I love my family but like me, they can really be a bunch of idiots!. I’ve been finding tons of awesome music lately. yadda yadda. on and on……

    Please forgive any annoying typos on this post gang. One of my neighbors gave me some excellent pea soup with the perfect amount of ham. Deelish!, and I’m finally getting sleepy. I’ve been struggling like a maniac to get some sleep the last few weeks. Insomnia can be torture.

    Patte Rosebank

    @sdwa, often, a parent with ADHD will feel like a failure compared to the non-ADHD parent.

    They look at their own difficulties with organization, planning, time-management, discipline, etc., and compare it with their partner’s apparent skill at these things.

    However, the ADHD parent is often blessed with great empathy, imagination, creativity, and enthusiasm, and may even be the child’s favourite parent, precisely for these reasons!

    So don’t be too hard on yourself!



    You’ve conjured the memory of my Great Aunt Rose. She was this little barrel-shaped old Jewish woman who wore gigantic orthopedic shoes with her flower print dress and big ol’ strand of beads and eye-glasses on a chain, and she would look at you across the table and lean forward, touch your forearm, and emphasize the gesture with the words, “You’re a tough cookie, Megan.” You are a tough cookie.

    If I did not have my sons’ father around, I would go nuts. I would not know what to do. My husband is not an athletic or handy person, so he doesn’t teach those skills, but he is the one to drive them around to their appointments and games and friends’ houses. I would fail at that. I’m glad if I remember to sign the field-trip permission slips and scrounge up some cash for them.

    But I do come from a cultural tradition that places an extremely high value on education and the development of critical thinking skills, so if there is homework stuff going on, I am all over it. I can’t not be, but if I weren’t, I would feel terrible. I am procrastinating on college scholarship research [shudder.] But as they say, “a Jewish drop-out is a kid with a master’s degree.” I only have a B.A., so what does that make me? But still. We read. We discuss.

    But everyone does what is familiar, gleaned from the best of whatever we have received ourselves. And my Great Aunt Rose? She wanted to go to college for her entire life, and finally enrolled in philosophy program when she was 84 years old. Lived to be 103. Got a master’s degree. Then she said she was too burned out to go for the Ph.D. Slacker!

    You are right about not over-promising on the money-per-page deal with Thing #2. But I asked him about it and he said no. He might change his mind. Then we talk about parameters.

    My own “respect for authority” is limited to that which stems from superior knowledge, skill, or ethical behavior – what I think of as “natural” authority rather than status-based. Some families organize around a clear hierarchy based on position, and I find that baffling, maybe because it doesn’t allow for the question “Why?” The notion that rules are rules just doesn’t work for me. They have to be inherently logical, not just consistently applied.

    I do struggle to say the word “No.” I am a bit of a doormat. My sons are frequently quite obnoxious to me, but I figure that is part of their job, moving from dependence to independence, to engage in some acts of irreverence. I would like to be more assertive. And it really ticks me off when my ADHD-er monkey starts pushing me around physically. That is not cool, but it is difficult to make him listen, to make him hear me, and to get him to stop. And that can be scary.

    Other parents often set limits that I can’t relate to. This doesn’t mean they are wrong, but might mean they place a greater emphasis on values that differ from my own. Some examples: You’re grounded because you used your step-mother’s bath towel. You’re grounded because you spent your birthday with your friends when you were supposed to be at home visiting with relatives. You can’t go on your play date because you drew on the wall with magic marker, and it’s your fault if your friend is disappointed. Those are not decisions I would make, but there was one time when a friend of mine confiscated his son’s car keys for a couple of weeks because the kid was higher than a kite, and I thought that made great sense. His goal was to protect the clueless one from causing harm to self or others. It was not about “you have to do what I say because I’m your father and I said so.”  The consequence was logically connected to the behavior.

    My kid who spends half his time with two other families? Those families are the nice, white-collar, well-educated, professional types I was probably supposed to be.  I trust them completely. The kid with ADHD doesn’t have much of a social life, and I am almost relieved, in that if he did, he would fall in with “the wrong crowd” due to his vulnerability. I’m convinced that kids with ADHD, and adults with ADHD – all of us, really – we need to choose our environments far more carefully than others do.


    Yeah, I’ve learned a lot of boy-slang around here. Epic. Awesome. Dude. Bad-ass. Owned. Oh snap! When I was a kid, only guys were dudes, but now apparently anyone can be a dude.

    I know what you mean about that whole negative self-talk super-powered destructo-tape running on and on. I understand that voice is not my friend. It is still there, but I’m getting better at ignoring it.

    For a while I tried to read parenting books, but most of them were boring and/or I didn’t agree with them and/or thought they were stupid and/or they annoyed me, so I don’t read those books any more. Especially the ones that propose a system. People are not math.

    But I really appreciate what you have to say. So thank you for that.



    Um [shuffles feet, hangs head]. Yeah. Thanks.


    @sdwa  I’m really hesitant to give you parenting advice, even though I love giving advice, but every situation is so individual. For the most part though, I have found Dr. Ed Hallowell’s advice about ADD and about parenting to be pretty solid.



    Wow!, I just learned something. (it happens gang) 

     It’s okay to act like a jackass because it encourages other jackasses to get out and get involved in the “how to quit acting like a jackass” community. Huh?

    Now I’m really going back to my musik.

    Quote for the day: “people are not math” That’s great!.

    Patte Rosebank

    My mom (the parent with undiagnosed ADHD) had some unique ideas in some areas of discipline, which my brother & I only appreciate now that we’re older.


    From the time we were toddlers, if we were going out somewhere, she’d sit us down and explain where we were going, what we’d be doing, and how she expected us to behave (sit quietly, be polite, no running around).  She talked to us in simple words, but as though we were adults, capable of understanding what was expected of us, and doing it.

    If we were in a restaurant, and we started acting up, she’d immediately take us out of there—stopping only to pay the bill.  Then, when we were outside, she’d tell us that we’d all had to leave and go hungry because we’d been noisy and upset the other people in the restaurant.  This only had to happen a couple of times, to teach us not to do it again.

    These direct consequences were far more effective than if she’d taken us outside and spanked us (society’s generally accepted disciplinary method at the time).

    We were so well-trained that when we’d see other kids running around or being noisy or having tantrums in restaurants & other public places, we’d be quite disgusted that *we* could behave ourselves, while those *savages* couldn’t.  And we’d bask in the glow of being complimented on our good behaviour, by strangers who’d initially expected the worst when they’d seen us come into the place.


    We never had to take naps, or had a formal bedtime.  Even when I was a baby, if  Mom put me in my crib, and I didn’t feel tired, she’d tell me to just play quietly with my toys in there.  When I moved from the crib to a real bed, it was the same idea, but she’d tell me to read some books until I felt sleepy.

    If the “Carol Burnett Show” was on, I’d fall asleep in front of the TV, just as Carol was taking around the guest book (around 10 p.m., which is VERY late, for a 3-year-old), and my dad would carry me to my bed & tuck me in.

    As a result of this approach, there was never a fight to get us to bed.  So, it’s quite bizarre to see families on “Nanny 911”, having huge wars as they try to get their kids to bed.


    Getting us dressed in the morning was easy, because Mom always gave us a choice of a couple of outfits, instead of just telling us what to wear that day.

    Result:  None of the “I don’t wanna wear that!!!” tantrums, that other families often go through in the morning.


    When we were teenagers, we never had a formal curfew, and Mom & Dad trusted us to tell them where we were going, with whom, and when we planned to be back.  And to phone them if the plans changed, or if we were in any situation that made us feel uneasy and we wanted them to come and get us.  They also told us, that if we got arrested, they would NOT bail us out; we’d have to take responsibility for our actions.

    Result:  They always knew where we were, and we never got into trouble.


    As for sex, Mom had several picture-books she’d rescued when the library at one of the schools where she taught was forced to withdraw them, after parental complaints.  When I started asking questions (around age 3, just after my brother was born), she gave me the books to read, and then we discussed the material, and any questions I had.  She used the same method when my brother started asking questions.

    As she taught us the facts of life, she also stressed the huge responsibility involved in bringing a baby into the world:  “It’s the biggest, longest-lasting responsibility of your entire life, and if you feel you aren’t ready for it, financially, emotionally, and in every other way, DON’T DO IT!  And don’t expect Mommy & Daddy to take over, if you suddenly decide you can’t cope with it.  Mommy & Daddy raised you.  They are NOT going to start all over again, with a new baby.”

    Again, she used age-appropriate language, but treated us like adults, giving us the facts and making us take responsibility.  And it worked.


    Our parents also trusted us never to smoke, or try illicit drugs, or engage in excessive or under-age drinking.  And we have never violated that trust.


    So, you see, having ADHD does NOT mean that you can’t be a very effective parent!


    @sdwa, I try to allow for “why” in my house, but I do believe in a sort of hierarchy and levels of authority. I want my kids to show respect to their elders, even if those elders are wrong. It’s a rudeness thing for me. I do tell them that I’m not always right, and they are allowed to discuss a rule change they feel is unfair, but I do use “Because I’m the mom” sometimes, either because I don’t have the time/words to explain why the rule is there or I don’t want to argue about a rule that they disagree with, but is there for their benefit/safety. Your way seems to have worked out pretty well, though, so I would just keep on doing what you are, and adjust what you think needs adjusting.

    I also don’t read parenting books, for all the reasons you said, and I feel like they were written for a ‘best-case scenario’ situation. They remind me of War pamphlets written by someone who’d never even heard gunfire. Sounds good on paper, but the war-zone looks much different.


    Patte Rosebank

    One more thing:

    Being raised with an emphasis on personal responsibility, I eventually realized that I am best suited to life as an independent singleton, with no spouse or significant other, and no children.  I’m happiest this way.

    Knowing this, I realized that it would be a huge mistake for me to try to fit some societal expectation that everyone should get married & have children.  My parents & brother have supported my decision completely, because they understand the reasons for it, and that it is MY choice, not theirs.

    Never, in my entire life, have they ever asked me, “When are you going to get married and settle down?”, or “When are you going to give us some grandchildren?” (or “nieces & nephews”, in the case of my brother).

    So, we’re pretty progressive that way, too!


    @Larynxa, that’s great that you were raised that way. My mom is decidedly not like that. She bugs everyone about giving her more grandbabies, or nieces/nephews to her own sisters, or whoever she decides should have them. I was raised in a family that believes everyone should be married to someone they love (or can at least tolerate), most especially if they have children.

    The majority of my family also does not acknowledge that I have a choice. All my sisters and my mom issue orders to me and question every decision I make. Always. Doesn’t matter the topic, if I’m stating my opinion, it’s going to be a long night of listening to all the reasons why I’m wrong or I’ll fail.

    It’s exhausting, it’s poisonous to my welfare, and I’m learning to walk away from it. But for me it’s sort of like watching some horrible disease take over my arm, and knowing the only way to keep it from spreading is to cut off the arm. Knowing what’s best is one thing, but amputation always seems so permanent.

    I am slowly cutting back on the time I spend around them though, and it is helping. We’ll see how long I can manage before they notice and attack.


    <i> Getting us dressed in the morning was easy, because Mom always gave us a choice of a couple of outfits, instead of just telling us what to wear that day.</i>

    This doesn’t work with my 4 year old (who I REALLY think has ADHD).  I have been giving her 2 or 3 outfits to choose from and this worked at first, but at this point she just refuses to wear any of them and only wants to wear her favorites over and over.  I let her wear them when she gets home from preschool, but not TO preschool.

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