Parenting Stream of Consciousness

One of my boys is AD(H)D. Thankfully he is not hyperactive. He was diagnosed relatively early, at the age of 6, and later on was also diagnosed with some learning disabilities. By the time of his diagnosis I was frustrated with his inability to keep track of his things. I used to joke that things needed to be stapled to him in order for him not to lose them. It was eventually explained to me, that it isn’t because he doesn’t care about his stuff. He does. He has the thought to put the sweater in his school bag, or to put the lunchbox back in the locker, just on his way there he had 143 other thoughts that totally sidetracked him from the task at hand and he lost focus. Having AD(H)D and learning issues severely impacts his self esteem and it’s a tough job to keep him focused and feeling good about himself.

He is different from my other kids, in that he needs a different part of me, but then again they all do. When you start raising your kids you have this idea of the type of parent you will be. You don’t think that each child will need something different from you, that each child has to be parented as a separate entity. That what works with one son, will not necessarily work with a younger sibling. I now believe parenting needs to be tailored to the child not the parent.

If one of my non-ADHD kids loses something, or messes up in school, I feel differently. For them, sometimes, it’s sheer carelessness, or laziness or just plain obnoxiousness. To them I am sure it seems that their ADHD brother gets away with a lot. It’s tough to explain to them, in a way that they will understand, that his brain processes things differently. That if I lose my temper with him and tell him I am angry at what he did, that he will take that as if EVERYTHING he does is wrong, that I think he is stupid and useless and worthless. I have to be extra mindful of the way I talk to him, so that even if he did lose his house key, for example, he needs to know he was wrong, but it doesn’t have to be this huge deal where everyone over-reacts. I have to balance the lesson and the consequence with love and acceptance of who he is. But then again, isn’t that what we need to do with every child?

I was thinking about this the other day. I was so convinced (especially also having been told by others that I let him walk all over me) that I parent him with kid gloves, and am more tough with the others, so I decided to try to observe my own parenting based on each child.

My findings: I am more gentle with him, but I don’t let him have a free pass. He does get disciplined and doesn’t get away with things. His consequences might, however, be different than if another brother had committed the same “crime”. If I ask the others to complete a list of tasks, I am more apt to nag at them to get finished. If I assign the same tasks to him I know I have to remind him step by step what he needs to be doing, so I am more patient. The others have no problem with remaining focused on the task at hand. He gets sidetracked so easily, even when medicated (which is a story in and of itself).

No one warns you when you are pregnant that parenting is a tough gig. That you will doubt yourself at so many points along the way. That if your child has special needs that you will blame yourself and want to give that child the essence of your own soul to make up for his challenges. No one explains what the feeling is like to watch your babies grow up and become real and good people because of the care you have nurtured in them. No one adequately explains the emotional roller coaster that parenting is.

This parenthood thing – it’s so awe inspiring and scary and just plain wonderful. I am so blessed to be mommy to these 4 boys and to see their individual characters develop and grow. I hope and pray that God continues to help me to give them all that they need, and to be the best Ima I could hope to be.

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17 responses to “Parenting Stream of Consciousness

  1. Great title for this posting – I am a happy Dad and without a doubt I agree each child in my life needs to be seen as the individual they are and guided in different ways.
    Indeed, I have learned much over the years from direct experience and from learning from other people who have written great books. If you or any of your readers are interested I continue to recommend a book called Mind Power for Children. I wrote a short review about this book here My lady and I have read this books more than once and learned more each time. There is even a chapter titled ‘conscious parenting’.
    Enjoy a wonderful day,

  2. Yet again, your beautiful writing and thoughtful analysis echos my own life experience!
    I, too, have child whose early childhood stymied me as a parents since I thought I had honed if not perfected parenting as a method with the elder two.
    Just last night she and I spent a few hours fine tuning and preparing her for a test today. It should come as no surprise that after she left home this morning she called asking me to bring the notes out to her as she awaited (though early, bless her) the bus this morning. The profound gratitude she expressed to me will hold me aloft as I go through my day.
    Parenting is is a joyous challenging task (with intended meaning on both words).
    Thank you for this terrific post.

  3. Yes, it is a tough gig…but so, so rewarding. Especially when we are focused on what each child needs from us.

  4. Great post! I can kinda relate, our 5 children are so different, and overall I think my struggles relate in how I treat each on different. They may see it as I am being more lenient or “babying” one or another, but in reality each child does respond differently to the same discipline. One child could care less that they are losing privileges, while the next child breaks down into hysterics because of it! ugh, such a fine line! 🙂

  5. A.A.A.D.D.

    Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. –
    Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

    This is how it manifests:

    I decide to water my garden.
    As I turn on the hose in the driveway,
    I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

    As I start toward the garage,
    I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

    I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

    I lay my car keys on the table,
    put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

    So, I decide to put the bills back
    on the table and take out the garbage first. But then I think,
    since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

    I take my check book off the table,
    and see that there is only one check left.

    My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Pepsi I’d been drinking.

    I’m going to look for my checks,
    but first I need to push the Pepsi aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over.

    The Pepsi is getting warm,
    and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

    As I head toward the kitchen with the Pepsi, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye– they need water.

    I put the Pepsi on the counter and
    discover my reading glasses that
    I’ve been searching for all morning.

    I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers.

    I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
    Someone left it on the kitchen table.

    I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I’ll be looking for the remote, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.

    I pour some water in the flowers,
    but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

    So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

    Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

    At the end of the day:
    the hose has been running since noon, the car isn’t washed,
    the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm can of Pepsi sitting on the counter, the flowers don’t have enough water, there is still only 1 check in my check book, I can’t find the remote, I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.

    Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired.

    I realize this is a serious problem,
    and I’ll try to get some help for it,
    but first I’ll check my e-mail….

    Don’t laugh — if this isn’t you yet, your day is coming!!

    • Congratulations on reaching that milestone!

      Unfortunately, for those of us with ADHD, we were dealing with everything you listed by puberty.

      • this was amusing, but the truth is, in a young kid this kind of behaviour is frustrating, both for the child and the parent. But this is totally the way the ADHD mind works.

  6. So encouraging to read your words on this topic. One of my kids has a learning disability, and I understand what you mean about what works with one child not necessarily working with another. It is a continual learning process for the parents as well.

  7. Lady Lock and Load

    Beautiful post. Indeed, it is difficult sometimes when one child needs so much and the “low maintainence” child can sometimes feel ignored even though the parent really tries to give attention to all the kids.
    I am one out of six children and I still suffer from the feeling that my parents did more for the kids who needed it and I felt and still feel rather neglected. 😦

  8. Thank you! Thank you for recognizing that your children need different parts of you and thank you for honoring your son where he is at and working with him to improve.

    I’m the parent of a special needs child. We haven’t been able to definitively determine what is going on with her, just know that she’s different than others. She interprets her environment differently and is far more sensitive to stimuli than others. She’s also undeniably insensitive to other stimuli. An odd mix, to be sure!

    But what she has taught me is that we all have different trials and tasks and need to loved where we are at.

  9. Sounds like you’re a pretty darn good Ima already!

  10. Do you think that what the child looks like makes a difference aswell on how a parent treats them?
    EG- they look more like your side of the family vs the other parent’s side? or they wear glasses, or if they are overweight?

    • Z! you know my oldest is the image of my ex, and I adore him to pieces. I think it makes no difference to a good parent.

  11. Z!-
    I beg to differ. My youngest looks exactly like my ex-husband, and I love her completely and treat her very well in spite of that.

  12. Lady Lock and Load

    One of my sisters was very pretty and my father worshipped the ground she walked on. Some parents are like that. (but I had more in the brain department 😉 )

  13. As a kid once diagnosed with ADHD and now a gownup with ADHD I can attest that what you are doing is NOT coddling and your boy isn’t going to turn out to be some antisocial indigent because you didn’t discipline him harshly enough. My mother guided me through most tasks inlcuding homework, term papers, chores, etc and while I’m not a domestic godess or a scholar like my younger siblings I’ve found my strengths and her ability to break tasks into minute chunks for me helps me as an adult internalize that process. Keep doing what you’re doing and naysayers be damned.

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