Yesterday I was reading a post by Bou about her challenges raising three teenage boys, her youngest with severe ADHD. Included in her post was a link to an article about the difficulties raising ADHD children and the stress it causes on family bonds and relationships.
Reading Bou’s post and the article she linked to made me think of nephew JJ, about who I may or may not have mentioned is mildly to moderately ADHD. Because much of what I read about applies to him and the relationships he has with other family members.
I trust that most of these parents love their ADHD children unconditionally, do and keep doing whatever is needed for their child as far as therapy and medication is concerned, and soldier on despite the challenges and frustrations.
I can’t speak the same for JJ and his caregivers, though.
The main reason I’m focusing this post on him (other than because he’s been a valuable source of blog fodder) is because we’ve been watching him over at our place most of the summer while his caregivers are working. And we’ve been getting a better idea of what it’s like to have him in the household and deal with him on a nearly daily basis, as well as what he has to deal with when he goes home.
Like I’ve said before, one of JJ’s problems is that nobody really makes him and his needs a priority in their lives. He does have medication and weekly therapy, but his meemaw is inconsistent about seeing he has both on a regular basis. Especially since we’ve been watching him, it seems that she’s decided better us to deal with his ADHD than her.
A lot of selfishness in Yes Dear’s family, which I will probably cover in a later post, but not here.
As much as I dearly love JJ, there are times where he isn’t very enjoyable to be around. The most prominent manifestation of his ADHD is his tendency to argue about almost everything, with occasionally transgresses into the disrespectful to adults territory. I had to have a stern talk with him a couple months ago about such behavior towards Yes Dear, and I think the idea of his biggest supporter being upset with him has helped alleviate that situation. But I’m currently working nights at my new job (and will be for the foreseeable future), so I have to sleep on days now and I don’t always have the time (or sometimes the patience) for him that he needs.
What distresses me is after reading the aforementioned posts, I see exactly how JJ’s ADHD affects his relationships with family members and their reactions towards him.
And how his primary caregivers won’t implement a single one of the commonly recommended strategies for dealing with ADHD kids. And, given past patterns of their behavior, never will.
All they do is medicate him (when they get around to getting his meds), send him to therapy (when it’s convenient to take him across town to get him there), and punish him for his transgressions, real or imagined (which is the path of least resistance, but makes his home into the family equivalent of a concentration camp).
I’ve already talked about the cold indifference that his papa shows towards him, except when punishing him (and, once again, he was conspicuously absent at JJ’s 10th birthday party a couple weeks ago). His meemaw does show love for him at times but is often too harried to deal with him. They’ve had a parade of boarders come live with them, who almost universally treat him like garbage, including the current one (something that would never be tolerated in my home, it would be written in your lease that crapping on my kid would be grounds for eviction). One of his aunts who’s away at college (the youngest of SIL’s three daughters) treats him like absolute shit when she’s home. His uncle (Teen Nephew, who just turned 18 so I may have to change his name) doesn’t have the patience for him anymore. Aunt Stevie barely has the patience for her two, so she rarely has him around anymore. Even our daughter PBJ, who we’re having a few issues with right now, tends to yell at him over minor transgressions, something we’ve had to get after her about.
Keep in mind he’s already got a host of other issues because of his egg donor, The Chunt. Who finally has been permanently barred from his life, but about ten years too late.
The only ones that seem to be able to maintain any patience with him at all is myself, Yes Dear, and his surrogate dad Big J (the father of our other nephew and JJ’s brother Mark).
Little wonder that JJ was telling my wife the other day that he wished he could live with us and cousin AJ full time. Plus the fact that he’d get a lot of time on our computers, but that’s another story.
It’s frustrating because I seem to be one of the very few people that can see his life through his own eyes, which is probably why I relate to him so well, and put an adult perspective on it so I can help him. Yes Dear is able to as well, but almost everyone else would rather punish him or put him down or push him to the side than listen and get to know him and how he thinks. Because it’s the path of least resistance. Seems like everybody’s lives are too busy to make time for him.
I truly fear for this kid’s future. I would so hate to see him go down the path of ruin that too many other family members have taken, particularly his egg donor. All we can do is give him a place of unconditional love that he can stay with on occasion.
But I’m afraid it’s not enough.
So any of you that have ADHD kids or have to deal with one on a regular basis, remember that they are people too. They are just as deserving of love and positive attention as “normal” children. Try to see things the way they see them. Find ways to deal with them that don’t involve constant yelling or punishment that’ll still maintain your authority and control as a parent. And take advantage of any break you can get from them for yourself, because they can drain you.
But above all, love them and let them know they are loved.