Parenting an ADHD Child: A Father's Perspective
By Anthony Kane, MD
Go to any formal event where there are speeches given, such as a political dinner or some other gathering. Wait until the third speech, and then look at any group of twenty-five people. You will observe three types of people.
Most people will be sitting there politely, trying to hide the fact they are bored. Then there will be two or three people who will be fiddling with a pen, doodling on a napkin, or tapping their fingers. They will look restless and very uneasy sitting there. Finally, there will be one person who looks like he is climbing out of his skin. He gets up. He sits down. He plays with his mobile phone. He looks at his watch. He won't be able to keep his legs still. If you investigate this person, you will most likely find a number of things about him. Probably that person is a CEO of some corporation or some other high-powered executive. He likely is the busiest, most successful person at that table. If you look further into that person's life you also may find that he did not do very well in school. Why? That person has ADHD.
If you have been reading about ADHD and learning disabilities for a while, I am sure you have come across all the stories written by the optimists. You know by now that Thomas Edison had ADHD, that Leonardo Da Vinci was severely dyslexic, and that Albert Einstein failed math and couldn't get a teaching position after he graduated university. You may have heard of the personal recounts of modern celebrities like Robin Williams or John Irving. These optimists then try to reassure you. They tell you that the world is full of such people who, in spite of their handicaps, rose to greatness. You should know that this is entirely false. No one ever rose to greatness in spite of a handicap. These people rose to greatness because of their handicaps.
Take for example, Helen Keller. She was a person who at a very young age became blind and deaf. As she strove to overcome her deficits, she achieved greatness and influenced the world around her in a way that few in her generation were able to do. It was her handicap that brought out her greatness. If she had never become blind or deaf, she probably would have led a very inconspicuous life.
If your child has ADHD, then there are three things that can happen. He can let it break him and it will be his downfall. He can live with it and try to compensate for the trouble it causes him. Or he can incorporate it into his future and use it to catapult him to a level that he would never have been able to achieve if he did not have ADHD. Does this mean he will be famous? Probably not, but greatness has nothing to do with fame. A person is great when he takes all the characteristics and abilities given to him, both good and bad, and directs them and uses them to benefit himself, his family, and his society.
A warm loving parent, a sensitive spouse, a good neighbor, an ethical person. You will never hear about these people, but these are the true heroes our generation. Any child, even a child with ADHD, can become this type of hero.
Your child has three paths before him. Which path he chooses will be a result in a large part of how you raise him. Will you allow his ADHD to destroy him? Or will you instill in him a sense of self worth that will carry him through this and all other obstacles in his life?
The statistics regarding the long-term prognosis of ADHD are not pretty. But, your child is not a statistic. And, he has one asset that most children with ADHD do not have. He has a parent that cares enough about him and who wants to help him; enough to read an article like this one. This already gives him an advantage way above most children with ADHD.
People tell me I should be more optimistic. I should be more encouraging to other parents. I should be enthusiastic and hopeful about their child's future. I really cannot do that. First of all, I am not an optimist. More importantly, however, what happens with your child has nothing to do with me. It really depends upon you.
Your child's future is in your hands. It is your job to mold and shape your child until he reaches an age in which he has the understanding and ability to mold and shape himself.