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Monday, June 21, 2010

Singleparentitis and ADHD

When my son first started exhibiting behaviours that weren't considered to be in the 'normal' growth range, I was encouraged to seek outside help regarding parenting. I immediately found a parenting course for ADHD/ADD/Difficult Children and as my son fit the 'Difficult Children' category, I signed up for the six week course. During the six weeks, we documented behaviour, applied strategies and posted the results. We had homework every week, and our spouses were also given tasks to complete. Many of the parents took turns regarding homework, however, there were some of us who could not engage our partners to help. I was one of the people in the latter category.

My husband (at the time) decided that he couldn't give any of his time to learning about our son's challenges, opting instead to have me learn everything and pass it along to him. This wasn't the solution I was looking for, but had little choice except to go along with his decision. After I had completed the course, I realized that there was a lot more to it than simply passing along information, so I signed him up for the next six week course.

He didn't attend one class.

Shortly after that, I made the decision to move my son and myself, and go live with my daughter. After making that move, I had to deal with the fall out from the decision, which made our life much more difficult, something, I'm sure, many of you have experienced.

Singleparentitis is not regulated to only families with ADHD children, unfortunately though, the statistics for this possibility are much higher when one or more children of the marriage have a disability, simply because of the added stress.

Of course, there are many factors that need to be present before the onset of Singleparentitis, and not all the symptoms are the same for everyone. However, if you are suffering from Singleparentitis, there are some things that you can do to help aleviate some of the symptoms.

First and foremost, you need support! There are several avenues you can pursue, one being a local chapter of C.H.A.D.D., both in the U.S. and Canada, your local Mental Health facility should also have listings for parent groups, or you could check with your doctor for any support groups in your area.

Give yourself some "me" time. Find something you enjoy doing and set aside some time at least once a week. I know it is difficult, but if you don't recharge your batteries you won't be able to deal with the day to day challenges and the stress will overwhelm you.

Whatever you do, don't lock yourself away and suffer in silence. You need to vent, relax, talk with people who are dealing with the same challenges, or simply get away from it all for a couple of hours. If you find that difficult, you might want to look into some respite care. This will allow you the time to unwind and recharge, something that is very necessary for your mental and physical health.

Above all, don't lose hope! Singleparentitis isn't permanent, it just feels like it some days!


  1. I have a six year old son with ADHD/ODD as well as 2 1/2 year old and 6 month old sons. It is a busy house! When I hear you talk about your son it sounds like you could be talking about mine. In fact just today he came home from camp "suspended" from camp tomorrow for throwing dirt and rocks at his other classmates. Sigh. I have been questioning myself lately about Jackson's schooling. He'll be a rising first grader next year and so far his behavior at school has been "acceptable" most days. I have been debating homeschooling him. What are you thoughts on homeschooling a child like ours. Will it do him (and myself) more harm than good?

  2. Believe it or not, the theory behind public schooling is to help the child (my son, your son,) learn social behaviour. In one sense I agree with you that it would be easier to homeschool, as there wouldn't be the upsets that would manifest with peers. However, you might be doing yourself a disservice by becoming your son's teacher as well as mother. In some cases, too much pressure to complete schoolwork can damage the mother/son relationship, and it is more important to be his mother than his teacher.

  3. I have considered that it may not be good for our relationship - sometimes we need a break from each other :) It's hard not to be protective of him but I suppose that is not a good reason to keep him home... It's just so hard not to worry!

  4. Keeping him at home will definitely solve your worries about protecting him, but ultimately, he won't learn social skills without the help of his teachers and peers, and you would be limiting his ability to interact and learn about outside influences.

  5. Today I'm home with my boys. Not by choice but because it's a student free day at their school and I don't have anyone willing to babysit them. My parents tell me they are poorly behaved and to top it off they smack my kids though they never smacked me. And my sister, well she is impatient with them and speaks to them harshly. Only the youngest has ADHD and features of ASD and our eldest - he's just a quiet kid at heart but fights to be heard and seen over the drama of his 7 year old brother. Today I feel isolated, useless, and a failure. My husband is wonderful support and showers us all with love but he's just as lost as I am on how to manage work, school, homework, afterschool activities, running the house and ADHD. To top it off I'm a Manager of a support agency of foster carers who care for children with special needs whom have been removed from their natural parents, or relinquished their parents. I'm such a contradiction - I support the foster parents and their caseworkers by providing strategies and emotional support but I can't seem to follow my own advice at home. I guess it doesn't help that I'm only just accepting our son has ADHD. I thought I was transferring what I was seeing at work home but when school teachers, sports coaches and others say our son is 'full on', 'emotional', or 'easily distracted and constantly disruptive' We realized we should probably call in the specialists. I was getting to breaking point, my work for the past 3 years has dominated my life meanwhile my sons suffered. While I've been off saving the world I did not want to acknowledge our own battles at home. Now I feel trapped in a job that seems to tax my emotional resources and leaves little for my babies. I guess I'm posting here because today stared terribly. Not having to go to work I really saw the state of our lovely home. Cracks in the walls from the boys fighting, all the broken appliances that son with ADHD has fiddled with, all the furniture he's put holes in and pulled the stuffing out of, a cherished bear I was given at my birth with it's eyes pulled off, antique chairs my parents gave me that survived in perfect condition through mine and my sisters childhood yet here they are now just a mess of childish grafitti and ripped up seating and then the human factors...the consistent screaming about injustices our youngest feels he's endured. Nothing is simply said it's SCREAMED OUT! I tried to calmly get through the morning, constantly rediecting him to help with making his bed rather than jumping on it, nagged and nagged him to help pick up his Lego, even did the role modelling thing but nope I got the answering back and the 'i wants''. It only took me realizing a poster he had recently put up on his wall had been tacked there with super glue for me to erupt with anger. I smacked him, and screamed I hated him and wish he'd never been born. All the hurts of watching him be shunned by other children at the park because he was the weird loud kid, all the friends who I knew would prefer I visited their homes alone, all the disapproving looks from teachers, shopkeepers, other mothers, my parents, extended family members, EVERYONE! And there we have it, I reacted by smacking which is just horrible and useless and I uttered those dark, desperate thoughts I never wanted anyone to hear especially our boy. Now I'm deflated, scared, and at a loss knowing tomorrow I'll put my professional face on and make a difference in a clients life but not own children. I'd rather sell up the house, quit the job and live somewhere cheaper to be a stay at home mum and make a positive difference in my sons lives. Today ADHD feels like a living HELL but I can feel a sliver of optimism.

  6. I can understand your feelings very well. Unfortunately, I walked a mile or two in your shoes. The only thing I could do was apologize to my son and do my best to hold it together. I still lose it from time to time, but I no longer yell (constantly) or hit. ADHD can be a very frustrating and difficult disability to deal with, and when you top it off with a job like yours it can seem an insurmountable feat just to make it through the day.
    My belongings have also taken a beating at the hands of my son (he is now 13, and hopefully the worst of that is behind us...) so I know how you must be feeling when you take stock.
    I would suggest finding a colleague who can do for you what you do for other parents, and like you tell them...hang in there, A. you aren't alone, and B. it will get better.