Parenting a Neurodifferent/ADHD Child

To read this important piece in its entirety, go to our weekly Substack articles focused on Neurodiversity, and published every Monday.  

This week’s edition addresses one of the more important, and perhaps most troubling aspects of Neurodifference, the various ways parents recognize these differences or don’t, and how they affect their parenting methods and their relationship with their child. 

Most parents expect their kids to be if not different, at least separate beings from themselves. It’s great when one of our kids emulates us, or aspires to be like us, and follows a certain career path, doctor, lawyer, Neuroscientist. But full duplication of a parent’s path, while flattering to the ego when the child is eleven, can be a bit concerning when they’re twenty-one. 

As worrisome as that is, the opposite scenario can be yet more troubling. When a child diverges so far from what society labels ‘normal,’ parents often misunderstand, judge, punish, and even reject the child. 

The message that the child’s differences are to be celebrated can be muted and dismissed when they’re too young to appreciate that sentiment. When the parent hears of such efforts, in order to protect their child they may decide to ignore the altruistic sentiment, or consider it naive. Especially when the child  may be bullied or marginalized by peers, the concept of neurodifferences as benefits can be the last thing a parent considers useful.

For those parents who happen to be Neurodivergent themselves, having ADHD like their child and watching them exhibit that neurodivergence can be alarming and a source of real anxiety. It’s typically not the emulation a parent might prefer. In the case of Katherine Lizardo, the Founder of ADHD Life Simplified, and guest expert for this piece, the journey is a source of personal revelation. It can be a shared path toward understanding, unlike any other parenting experience.

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