Editor's note: This week, we feature guest blogger Mamie Rand, a mom whose son benefits from Executive Function coaching. Please see her full bio below.
Perhaps this recent scene in my household sounds a little familiar to you…
“Son, check your watch. What time does it say?”
“4:00, Mom!” He is exasperated that I’m about to issue a curfew.
“I must see you home at 5:33 because we have a commitment. You got that?”
“Got it!” he yells running out the door.
I feel sure he won’t be back on time, but I’m hopeful. 5:33 comes and goes. 5:45 does too. And then 6:00. It’s no surprise really - just frustrating to the max. There go the plans we had for the evening and I jump in the car to scan the neighborhood for his bike. Dad stays home in case he returns. 6:30, 6:45, 7:00. We’ve cancelled our event for that night, of course, but we’re both worried and angry. Pacing the kitchen, I systematically think through my process to ensure his timely return. Although this time it was another failure, I’m working on learning from these moments and modifying my approach.
A few minutes after 7:00, my son bolts through the door without checking the mood of the room and frantically explains why he’s late. Sometimes, though, he doesn’t even explain, so I'm encouraged that he’s gaining awareness on some level. Either way, in that moment I have to make a choice: an instantaneous consequence when emotion is high for all but advantageous because of the immediate cause and effect scenario; or a delayed response when emotion is more neutral but a disadvantage because ... well, because the emotions are neutral. Don’t we all seem to lose our momentum once we’ve calmed down?
Why I Had to Change My Parenting Style to Accommodate ADHD
I’ve raised 4 children ahead of this last one, so my parenting philosophy is tightly in place. I’ve always taught my children to respect authority and obey the first time, as well as instilled the importance of family identity, thinking of others first, speaking the truth, and the “why” behind it all, which comes full circle to our faith. As my 5th child came on the scene with a BIG personality and ADHD, I was surprised and shocked to realize I must change the way I parent to maintain a relationship with him, not to mention survive this 18+ year journey as we share space together at home. He’s different, but he’s not broken, and I’ve learned that he needs different tools. My tone has to be different, my approach has to be different. My standards can remain the same, but I must adjust to meet him where he is. I’ve been parenting for almost 20 years, so to completely start from scratch with a new approach takes a stamina I never expected.
That choice I had to make when he arrived home late is one example of a new approach for me. I could not respond to him the way I would have responded to my children without ADHD. I just can’t. It doesn’t work. With help from others who know more than me, such as my son’s Executive Function coach, I’ve learned new strategies that take practice and fine tuning as he and I problem solve to make curfew work for an 11-year-old. It’s best if I’m intentional about limits while he’s young because this child will be driving in a few years with a curfew later than 5:33. Why the odd time of 5:33? My answer is it’s a strategy that frequently works for us. 5:33 is an unusual number and stands out more than the typical 5 or 5:30. We have a better chance of seeing him return home on time using this method. Not every time, but often.
What I’m working on with my parenting:
Controlling my anxiety over the future - and being mindful of how I cope with the present challenges
Being strong and resolute
Leading with calm authority
Spending time cultivating my son’s gifts and talents
What I have learned that helps my son be successful:
Be specific with directions
Be firm yet non-emotional
Say things once, but simplify and slow down
Use non-verbals when possible
Use images rather than words
Write schedules on a white board
Changing the Way I Think About My Child Who Has ADHD
I can write about dozens of episodes I’ve dealt with, but what has coincided with changing some of my parenting is changing some of my thinking. My thoughts play an overwhelming role in how well I control my anxiety, how well I’m strong and resolute, how well I lead with calm authority.
I’m including below one of my all time favorite quotes that changed my thinking concerning this out of the box son of mine. The day I read it, I knew it was truthful. I hope you will be encouraged as you raise a world changer.
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things, they push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” - Steve Jobs
Mamie Rand lives in Mount Pleasant, SC with her husband and 5 children. Three children are grown and live nearby. The younger two live at home - Chrisman, a sophomore in high school, and Jude, a 6th grader in middle school. She has homeschooled the younger 2 children over the course of 10 years. Mamie always has her hand in a project, whether its volunteering, organizing events, planning trips, or managing her home.
Find out how Executive Function coaching helped Jay, an 8th grade boy with ADHD. Jay's challenges with attention, organization, and writing left him feeling discouraged and resistant to his parents' help.