How to Create Understanding

Hi there

I am a 29 year old single Mom with ADHD-PI my is 8 and he is ADHD-C and dysgraphia. I am seeing a wonderful ma who just doesn’t get it. We’ve been seeing each other for about 6 months now and there is talk of moving in together. He is a wonderful man very kind and gentle and loving, he is good with my son most of the time and he makes me very happy. But I can’t seem to get it through his skull that ADHD is a real disability and that certain accommodations and treatments and coping strategies and all that need to be in place. He comes form the just work harder crowd I guess. He turned around a little when he saw the difference between DS on meds vs off meds but it wasn’t enough really. I’m looking for understanding and compassion and for him to “get” the way things have to be done before I’ll let him move in with us. Maybe if I gave an example or two? He went with me to buy a new set of dishes and pots and pans last week. He couldn’t seem to grasp that as an ADHD household all the dishes must be dishwasher friendly and easy to clean and not very breakable. He saw this set of dishes that he really liked but it was not dishwasher or microwave safe. We wound up getting into an argument about it. He doesn’t understand why I can’t just hand wash dishes. He also doesn’t understand why I don’t buy clothes that need to be ironed. He wears a lot of nice shirts for work and has to iron them. I told him as a joke that even if we lived together he would still be ironing his shirts. Between me and the kid theres just no way I am ironing clothing. He thinks it’s a copout that I’m using ADHD as an excuse not to do stuff like that. I tried to explain that its part of the family plan put in place with our counsellor, to cut down on the amount of chores and house work I have to do. I need things to be easy. Clothes that come out of the dryer wrinkle free. How do I make him understand that these little things just pile up and become too much. I need to keep it easy for me and my son.

I will just be honest with

I will just be honest with you...reading this I am thinking to myself "this man needs to get over himself". So what that you want dishes that are dishwasher safe and you do not iron. If these kinds of things are that big of an issue, I would worry how little he will be willing to accept when REAL life issues are presented. I do not iron, buy only 'out of the dryer' type slacks for my husband to wear to work, and never had wash a dish. Ever. He could not care less.

Instead of seeing this as an issue of trying to make him understand, I would see this more as a boundaries issue. This is how you run your home. This is what works for you. Neither of these issues is worth wasting on solid second of energy on. If he wants to wash dishes by hand when he moves in, let him. He irons his clothes now, he can continue to iron them when he moves on. It seems like you feel bad about the way you've got your household set up and about the way you run it. Don't. It is what works for you, it is what is necessary to minimize your chaos and your struggles, and he needs to respect that and be very clear about it before he moves in. Don't try and explain it to him, just tell him that is what is necessary for you to maintain your life and if he wants things done differently, then it will be his responsibility. Period.

I encourage you to have more confidence and pride in the fact that you've apparently created a successful life for yourself and your son. Hell, if you eat off of paper plates to avoid stress and added work, so be it. Someone will either love you 100%, quirks and all, or they aren't for you.

Best of luck!

No need to explain..

I see no need to explain anything....its your house and its not hurting anyone if you use the dishwasher and don't iron, you have to do what is right for you and your son.  As a single Mom, you need to do what works (regardless of ADHD).  I have been there and its tough enough to be a single Mom without someone else questioning your routine or your motives.  Heck I'm the Non in our house and we have ALL dishwasher/microwave proof (I have kids) dishes (most are plastic too) and I haven't ironed in my whole life!!  If he cant accept your routines and have some respect for you and what you have accomplished...then in my opinion that's a deal breaker! I know this may sound harsh and I don't mean to be.  But if my DH (hes ADHD with Depression) had known about his condition before we were together and had a plan that worked for him, I would have been all for promoting it and making it work. Unfortunately he didn't know until recently, so its been a long road, but not one that I regret.    Hope this helps!! ~~HUGS~~

Take your time

It's only been six months and he is already bumping heads with you? There should be no rush to move in. Keep things light, happy, and carefree. Keep your space and let him keep his. You'll be much happier. From my experience, the people who think adhd is a crock or an excuse DO NOT change their thought processes any time soon. We are going on 12 years past diagnosis and the same people who thought it was a crock then still think it is a crock now... Makes for very stressful interactions. There are people out there that don't get the "depression" diagnosis and tell people to stop being weak and to get over it. The work harder philosophy isn't a real accepting environment for your son to be around. Your son can't protect himself from that type of thinking, yet. You can. If I were in your shoes, i would let your relationship play out. Separately. If he is the right guy for you then he will be a huge help. He will change his life to accomodate YOU and YOUR SON. He will also know that he has to research and educate himself. If he isn't open to this and/or doesn't educate himself, then he may not be ready to be a part of the solution and he will only add to the difficulties. If your son was dating a kind, loving, and thoughtful girl for 6 months, and she thought adhd was an excuse or a crock, would you be pushing him to move in or marry her? That would definitly lead to a parent/child dynamic for sure. Be careful. He is showing you in his own way that he is not ready... Give him some time. Be patient. But please, take your time and keep reading on this site. There is so much here to help you.
summerwine's picture

Thanks everyone for being

Thanks everyone for being supportive. I am having a hard time explaining ADHD and how its can truly be disabling and how important work arounds and things are. I'd buy him one of the marriage books out there for ADHD but they are kind of worst case senario and I don't want to scare him off! How do you educate a potential partner and make sure you don't wind up in that worst case senario?

Sometimes that is what it

Sometimes that is what it takes, a worst case scenerio, in order to prepare yourselves for anything.

summerwine's picture

No you don't understand I

No you don't understand I think. I want o show how you CAN have a good relationship with someone like me if only you understand the a little and are willing to allow that some things might be different. Its so hard for a woman like me to find a man and keep him. Having a special needs kid and having ADHD myself and every thing. I  really don't want to scare him off I want to sort of break him in gently. Guys either get scared off by the the idea of being with someone who is "different" or they don't take it seriously and then get angry when your symptoms begin to affect them. ugh My relationships go in this cycle where it's great at first and then they start to see the reality of ADHD and raising a kid alone and then they start to get bitter and disillusioned they refuse to learn about ADHD or act like its just an excuse for things it just goes downhill from there. I do my best with what I got and I guess I dont know how for it to be good enough let alone accepted.

You can't 'show' him this in

You can't 'show' him this in the form of a book or a TV show or some youtube vidoes. The best way to show him is to have clear boundaries for yourself (i.e. figure out what is best for you, what helps you deal with your ADHD best, and then make it clear that it is necessary to your happiness).

Why don't they see the 'reality' of ADHD and raising a kid alone right away? Are you going into relationships 'on your best behavior' because you're afraid that if you're just you that they will bail?

Your whole post just makes me sad for you. You act as if you have nothing to offer but ADHD. Be accountable and commit yourself to creating a relationship that you both can enjoy. Don't use ADHD as an excuse to hide behind ("people leave me because I have ADHD and they don't want to deal with it"). Listen. Compromise. Communicate. You're 10 steps ahead of the rest of us since you know you have ADHD. The only shame in having ADHD is not holding yourself accountable for what it brings to the table and not getting help for it when you know you need it. Otherwise, there is no shame and no need for you to have to make elaborate efforts to have a relationship. Do you have ADHD or does it have you?

Expect acceptance

If you want to ease him into ADHD, don't rush into cohabitation.

You sound like you have your life together. I don't know where you can find literature that gives a non-nightmarish profile of the disorder: "Here is what a managed, treated ADHD case can look like." It does seem like all the books are very introductory — like, for people who are newly diagnosed and have a long symptom-management journey ahead of them.

When my guy began reading about ADHD, we'd been together long enough for him to know my case was different from those extreme, unmanaged cases (usually compounded by other serious disorders). So he wasn't scared off. But he also didn't have any initial skepticism about the disorder.

For now, it sounds like your guy's affection has some strings attached. Sorry if that's harsh. I would not move in with him until he supports your ADHD management strategies. That's just my opinion. If he's not willing to deal with dishwasher-safe dishes in order to enjoy the greatness that is you, he's not ready to live with someone. Even couples without ADHD have to make compromises bigger than dishwasher-safe dishes. It's part of being in an adult relationship. He can handwash his own special plates and iron his own shirts. Or he can move back to 1952 and ask Donna Reed to do his chores.

summerwine's picture

I wanted to add an update. I

I wanted to add an update. I am still holding to my rule of moving slowly and not rushing things too much. My boyfriend is keeping his own place until after Christmas but he is spending more and more time with us. We had my niece and nephew with us this weekend and I think it was good for him to see the kids with my kid. My brother works a lot and his wife in in school so they are kind of my kids too. I take care of them a lot. Anyways we forgot the meds for my niece and nephew so they would up on a med holiday this weekend. My nephew is AS and my niece is ADHD-PI and I think it really hit my boyfriend to see them off their meds compared to my son on his meds. He said it was a real eye opener for him to compare them to my kid and to compare to how he has seen them when they are on their meds. When I got home from a meeting with my son's school he was waiting and wanted to hear every detail and got upset with some of the things the teacher said and how the school fights having to comply to his 501 plan. I am hoping that this is progress towards him having better understanding and empathy.

summerwine's picture


So we worked out a compromise. We will have cheap and non breakable kid proof everyday plates that are dishwasher safe.  And we will get a china cabinet a manly china cabinet whatever that means  ;-p  and we will have nice dishes in the cabinet for guests and special occasions and my boyfriend will wash any dish that can't be put in the dishwasher but my son and I are in charge of the washer. URGH so complicated to just get that far!