Did you know that around 9.4% of children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD? That means nearly one out of every ten children. (Centers for Disease Control) Why then does it feel so isolating to have a child with ADHD or to have it yourself? I think there may be a handful of reasons this is true, and understanding these reasons can help us break down those barriers.
ADHD research has come a long way in the last 20 years or so. When I was a child, ADHD had the stigma of being over-diagnosed as an excuse for all the bad boys who couldn’t behave in school. Girls were rarely diagnosed with it, and even the boys who were purported to have it were looked upon skeptically. It is only recently that it has become more widely accepted as a neurological disorder by the average lay person. People from older generations may have an even harder time overcoming the prevailing stigmas associated with an ADHD diagnosis.
ADHD is a hereditary disorder, which means there are entire families who have never needed to understand its impact on children and families of those who do have it. For example, both of my children have been diagnosed with the disorder. That means 100% of the children in my family, which skews the data cited above. But I know many families who have no relatives with the diagnosis. Because of that, they have never had a need to understand ADHD and some of the stigmas have not been challenged.
ADHD is complex. It manifests differently in boys than girls, and in adults than children. It often coincides with one or more neurological disorders, mental health disorders, or learning disabilities. Some of these can mirror one another, making it hard to differentiate what behaviors are triggered by ADHD as opposed to anxiety, dyslexia, or OCD (or just our human sin nature). Therefore, even amongst those of us who have children with ADHD or have it ourselves, our experiences may be vastly different from that of others with the disorder.
As Christians, we believe that we were created to live life in community with one another and with God. The Bible is full of messages which reinforce this idea. One of the very first statements God makes about Adam is that it isn’t good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and then he creates Eve as a helper for him. Before Adam and Eve become parents, God has a design in mind - that children should live in community with their parents until they are married, at which point, the married couple becomes the new family unit to “cling” to one another (Genesis 2:24). The Bible is filled with messages about humans helping one another through this journey of life. You weren’t meant to do this alone - and that includes raising children with ADHD. So how do we build Christian Community around this topic? Here are three suggestions;
Remind yourself and your family members that God is with you. Read passages like Psalm 139, I Peter 5:7, and Philippians 4:6-7. Pray to experience the Lord’s peace and comfort.
Research ADHD so you are more knowledgeable for your own benefit and for that of others who have not had a need to know about it. Then, when you encounter a friend or family member who doesn’t understand what you are facing, speak the truth in a loving and gentle way. My favorite source of helpful tips, webinars and articles is ADDitudemag.com.
Join a support group or start your own. Share with one another your particular struggles so you can pray with and for each other, encourage one another, and give each other tips. If you don’t know where to start, I am offering a five week workshop through a private FB group. Sign up at my introductory rate of $150 per couple. You can find out more here.
Need one on one help? Ask a pastor or trusted mentor or counselor for help, or you can book a free Discovery Session with me by going to www.flourishingfamilycoaching.com/services and enter the code: ADHD in the checkout.
The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.
Centers for Disease Control. “Data and Statistics about ADHD.” CDC.gov, 16 November 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html. Accessed 29 12 2020.