Take Care of Yourself First To Be A Better Parent To Your ADD Child
We all know that when flying, the rule is parents put on their own oxygen mask before putting one on their child. It only makes sense that we cannot adequately take care of our children until we take care of ourselves first. What good is the oxygen mask on a child, if the parent without a mask, lays passed out and helpless?
A recent study highlights the need for parents to also take care of themselves first when it comes to ADD evaluations. Parents are quick to have their children evaluated when they suspect a problem, yet frequently ignore their own possible ADD. If you know ADD has a significant degree of hereditability, then you know screening parents for ADD is simply a common sense approach.
When a child is diagnosed with ADD, it is critical for the parents to consider the possibility of their own ADD. Parents tend to shy away from pursuing help for themselves for a number of reasons. However, none of the reasons matter. The bottom line is that an undiagnosed ADD parent will likely have significant, and unnecessary, difficulty dealing with an ADD child. Just as the child deserves the best treatment and care, so too does the parent.
“Dr. Andrea Chronis, in a study of 214 children, found that the parents of children with ADD were 24 times more likely to have ADD themselves than were parents of children without ADHD. As is often the case, many of the children in the study had co-occurring conditions such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Anxiety, and Depression. Additionally, their parents had higher rates of depression and other psychological problems, including alcohol and other types of substance abuse.”
A parent of an ADD child has even more stress than does the average parent. To ignore diagnosis and treatment, that could potentially help ease the parents own troubles, only sets the stage for chaotic and tulmultuous parenting. Addressing one's own ADD and following treatment to ease symptoms, sets th stage for that parent to be more available for better parenting. Just as parents attempt to set their child up for success, rather than failure, so too should parents set themselves up for successful parenting.
The increased stress of dealing with ADD children, added to the stress of a parent’s own undiagnosed ADD, likely contribute to the alcohol and substance abuse rates found in Dr. Chronis’ study. Significantly, Dr. Chronis found all treatments for ADD tend to be less effective when the parents have their own psychological issues. It makes sense that parents with untreated ADD might be less able to follow through on discipline and with helping their children with organizational and time management issues. The most comprehensive and appropriate ADD treatment for an ADD child is less effective when the parents’ problems are untreated.
Think about it. If the parent is not consistant, how can that parent help their child to be consistant? If the parent is disorganized, how can that parent help the child to become orgnanized? If the parent is impulsive in word or deed, how can the same issue be addressed successfully in their child? We have come a long way since the days when "Do as I say, not as I do," was considered an accepatable parenting strategy. Yet, that is exacly the strategy many parents mindlessly employ when they choose to ignore their own ADD while addresing their child's.
This has important implications for the success of society’s ADD children.