“Our perception and attitude toward any situation will determine the outcome."
- Chinese fortune cookie
Why Don’t You Ever Remember to…?
More than likely, when you generate negative responses from your kids, there are two things going on. First, kids with ADHD often hear neutral comments as criticism because they are hypersensitive to negative feedback. Second, there may well be an underlying message that you are not saying directly, but they are hearing loud and clear, like, “You messed up again,” or “I feel like I can’t count on you.” Even when our intentions are good, we say things in a way that sounds judgmental or accidentally puts our kids on the defensive. We don’t mean for that to happen, of course—but we all do it. So when your child responds negatively, you may get triggered in return . . . and a vicious cycle continues.
Changing your tone starts with shifting your expectations and becoming aware of the unintended messages you are actually sending—so that you can choose the messages you want to send. For example, consider classic parent statements like “Why can’t you just . . . ?” “Why don’t you ever remember to . . . ?” “When are you going to . . . ?” and the most famous one of all, “How many times do I have to tell you?”
From Parenting ADHD Now
Those in relationships impacted by ADHD know instinctively how relevant this idea is for adults with ADHD and those who love them. You don’t mean to communicate ‘you are broken’ to your ADHD partner, but every time you remind, nag, cajole, critique, or ‘educate,’ you do just that.
I was reminded of this one day after a few weeks of being annoyed that my husband wasn’t pulling his weight around the house (and asking him to do so) when he suddenly turned to me and said “If you dislike me so much, why are you even married to me?!”
I was so stunned that the moment became etched in my brain. As a rule of thumb, when non-ADHD partners ‘parent’ ADHD partners, the result is that no matter how nicely you try to say it, the message received is still the same – you are ‘less than’ you could be.
Becoming more aware of this connection helped me vow to get out of my parenting role forever…and I have. It was hard work, but more than worth it. And as I stepped away from parenting, my husband finally had the room to grow into taking the responsibility I had always wanted him to have.
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For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
Is your relationship in trouble? Consider my highly acclaimed couples' course: ADHD Effect In-Depth Couples' Seminar - This 8-session phone seminar has helped many couples thrive in healthier, happier relationships.