I've been thinking of a remark I saw a few days 'round here. It's not an uncommon remark or judgement. I've heard it (and others) before. "People with ADHD (and/or ODD) are just lazy parents".. "They just need to give their kid a good whoopin'"... "They just need to discipline their kids and quit being lazy"... etc...
My first thought is how uneducated these remarks and judgements are. My 2nd, is that when you have a child with ADHD and/or ODD, the last thing you can do is be lazy. It's a daily energy drainer to say the least. I have 6 kids and one ADHD/ODD child. He drains my energy more than my other 5 combined.
Everyday is a battle. It's a battle of wills between him and me. It's a battle just to maintain sanity and patience. There are numerous, daily meltdowns. Sometimes I'm the one having the meltdown, and I have to momentarily hide in the bathroom while I have a good cry.
People think they know what they're talking about... they have no idea until they're faced with a child who never gives. ADHD and ODD combined- You've got a child with energy levels that never drain. He can stay up til' 2am (or later) and be the first one wide awake in the morning with the chickens. His ODD is a constant factor, and he can argue likewise. He doesn't take no for an answer like all my other children. Everything is open to debate for him. Everything must be his way because he believes he's always right.
Think you can give him a 'good whoopin?'.. He'll laugh at you. His high strung nature somehow ties into pain. He rarely feels it. He's compulsive and appears to lack common sense most of the time. When you should be able to trust your 9 yr to responsibly take a shower (alone) he'll have you racing to the ER because he thought it'd be a good idea to climb the walls and fell, giving himself a fracture in his skull. ( He didn't even cry. He laughed. ) It's been 9 years of endless scary moments (and I don't say 9 yrs lightly, I recognized his differences in infancy), to say the least. He can't be unsupervised and even when he is supervised, there is no limit to the amount of things he can do in a blink right before your eyes. His compulsiveness works faster than I can fly across the room. It's like riding on the edge of a roller coaster, everyday.
Think you can take his things away for punishment? He's already broken them all anyhow.
Time outs?- They work if you have the energy to interrupt what ever you're doing every 30 seconds and physically place him back in his room (or the corner)... he's got enough energy to go at it all day and all night. The question is, how much do you have? Don't forget your other kids in the meantime.
Scrubbing walls or physical labor for punishment?- See above... and that's if you're lucky enough for him to make it to destination of work within the house. He'll most likely get sidetrack within 5 inches and completely forget what he was doing.
"Talk" to him about right and wrong & see if you can reason with him?- You better get it all out in 30 seconds or less. By the way, he'll forget what you said within 2 minutes, if you got him to even listen. He will also have an opposing thought to every reasoning you can throw at him.
These are just a few examples of what it takes to show an ADHD/ODD child some 'good discipline.'
I medicate my kid so I can be lazy?- Tell me that after you've spent his first couple of school years not medicating. You will have picked him up, at least once a week, for being uncontrollable in class. He will have spent most of the week in ISR as well. He will have also been suspended from school numerous times, and oh, he's failing every subject because he can't complete one simple worksheet. He'll doodle instead and find every reason to get up from his seat multiple times, and bother and disturb the other children from learning while he does it. An alternative- Put him with the special ed kids, even though his intelligence is above average.
I opted for the meds- He doesn't get sent home anymore. He's not been in ISR since. He's not only an honor roll student, he's in gifted classes as well and scores above average on all his state tests. Lazy parenting? No, I just believe enough in my child to make sure he gets all the same opportunities as anyone else so that he can excercise all of the potential and intelligence I know he has. In no way do the medications make the previously stated challenges 'go away.' But he's just a little more able... his possibilities are endless.
Don't worry about him being a 'zombie.' That's what regular dr visits, blood tests, and medication control are for. He's not a zombie because we don't overmedicate our child. He's just more able to function properly on them, enhancing his natural abilities- leadership, intelligence, and a huge heart are just a few.
While I'm talking about medications and what a lazy parent I am- Dr visits require regular care, and not just his regular dr, but his ADHD dr. It also requires weekly behavioral therapy sessions with another dr in conjuction with his medications. Because the medications alone are not what it takes to help my son manage his conditions.
He needs the therapy in order to learn the skills he needs to manage his conditions and control his behaviors so that one day he can function as an contributing member of society. He needs the sessions so that when he is weaned off his medications as a teenager, he won't need them anymore... because he'll have the tools he needs to manage his conditions himself. Medications, at this time, serve as an aide for his brain that is not yet fully developed enough to be able to control his illnesses himself. My goal is to make sure he has the tools he needs when his brain is developed enough to function without medications one day. These things require work and effort on my part and my husbands. We also, as a family, have to engage in therapy as well in order to have tools we need as parents to effectively help our son manage his condition... and I'm barely scratching the surface here... believe that. Lazy? Quite the contrary.
His illness isn't real? We're just not good parents?- Come back and tell me that after you've lived it and are privy to an opinion. Come back and tell me that when you've got 5 other kids who don't behave the way he does by far...when you're other school aged children are on the honor roll, in gifted classes too, and function as happy, healthy children that are well taken of.
Come back and tell me what a lazy, horrible mother I am after you've walked an inch in my shoes. All the reading material in the world will never educate you like experience. Be thankful you don't have to be educated with the experience of it instead, and I'll continue to be thankful that I am.