Parenting a child with ADHD: What you shouldn’t ask. | #parenting

Why don’t you know where your homework is?

Why did you disobey your teacher?

Why did you disobey me?

Why did you hurt your sister?

Why did you deliberately hurt yourself?

Why? Why? WHY? WHY? WHY?

The enormous challenge of being the parent of an ADHD child is that you tie yourself in mental, emotional and physical knots, constantly asking this banal, and largely irrelevant, question. 

For me, it screamed in my head, every day for 10 years. Every time my child did something we both knew he’d been taught not to do, or knew was wrong, I asked him. Why? Every time he didn’t do the right thing, or something he’d been asked (aka told) to do, I asked him. Why? 

To my exasperation, whenever I asked the question, he would grunt, “I don’t know”. And he would deliver this reply with perfect predictability and monotony.

This is an answer no parent who’s constantly questioned and judged for their child’s ‘bad’ behaviour or ‘poor’ performance can do anything with. (Queue steam from ears and a rising vocal volume.) 

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” 

But the reality is, ADHD kids often don’t know why they do (or don’t do) the things they’re responsible for. And these poor little people constantly have adults seeking these answers where there just aren’t any to be found. 

Others constantly ask this inane question too. Teachers and family members would ask my son the Why question all the time. Then, when they couldn’t get a satisfactory answer from him, they’d ask me! “Why did your son…? Why doesn’t your son…? Why won’t your son…?” And I never knew the bloody answer! 

I read every book. I took him to every expert. I attended every course. I searched and researched. Yet I never found the answers. It was painful and frustrating. How can you solve a problem if you can’t find the answers?

I would ask myself, “Why?” just as often as I would ask my son, “Why?” 

And when we ultimately received the diagnosis that our son had ADHD, I fell to my knees and screamed to the universe a soul-level rhetorical, “Why?”

This is a gelatinous trap for parents to fall into. A huge, dangerous, bottomless trap. The truth was that neither of us had the answers.

Listen to Mamamia’s parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess, where hosts Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo chat to Louise Kuchel about parenting a child with ADHD. Post continues below.

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