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Raising ADHD Kids Teaches Me to Cope with Life’s Surprises


Just hours after Steve Jobs died, my MAC decided it couldn’t live without him. Now that’s loyalty! Since it was the morning before the Jewish Day of Atonement, I took it as a sign to slow down and get myself ready. I set the intention that I would take the time and space for reflection, and make the best of the situation.

As I went through the next two days, I confess to feeling a little distracted. I couldn’t stop thinking about my computer. It was taking my IT guy (a.k.a. my husband) hours to try to recover the data!

When “no news” started to get to me, I asked my spouse to pretend we had a sick child and tell me what he would want to hear from the doctor. I took a few deep breaths and braced myself, reminding myself that I could handle whatever happens. The answer was both clear and muddled — hard drive malfunction, operating system incompatibility, data recovery, more ideas to try, tech support, yada yada yada.

I was trying to process it all, but I kept thinking, “something is really wrong with my computer. Is this really happening?” Then the logistics started pouring through my brain — deadlines, dollars and details. My focus shifted from my broken computer to the potential impact on me… am I going to be able to work on Monday? What if we’ve lost the pictures from our trip to Spain? And so it went.

Then it hit me: the conversation about my computer reminded of the day my oldest child was diagnosed with ADHD. No joke.

We sat across from the psychologist, who was telling us all sorts of important information about our precious child. All I could think was, “wow, there really IS something going on with my kid!” My brain cycled through many perspectives: logistics, denial, etc. I really have no clue what the good doctor told us that day. It took me months to genuinely process the fact that I had a child with ADHD – and years to come to terms with it in any real way.

So why am I bothering telling you this?

This weekend I realized that raising kids with ADHD has taught me to expect the unexpected, and manage major game-changing events with relative calm. You might say, it’s taught me resilience.

New information – like a child’s diagnosis or a crashed computer– changes a playing field. As a parent, there are dozens of thoughts that come up when we learn about a child’s ADHD. All of them are natural, and many deserve attention. One perspective worth considering, though we hesitate to do so, is “what about me?” Often we deny that we are even thinking about ourselves at a time like this, but it is a valid and important consideration. 

In fact, it’s likely that the attention we give to ourselves helps make us resilient. When we deal with our own “stuff,” it opens up all kinds of room for us to handle what is happening in our family without getting in the way.

So, what do you think and feel about the new rules of the parenting game? How do you want to play it? Your relationship with your child’s ADHD matters, and the sooner you consider it, the better. When you as a parent take care of yourself, you are best suited to care for your kids. Your perspective on ADHD is critical for you to consider.

I’ve come a long way since my early days of uneasiness. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve changed how I tend to react to surprising information. Ironically, I owe it all to ADHD. So, here are some Life Lessons I’ve learned from raising ADHD kids:

7 Coping Strategies from Life on the ADHD Roller-Coaster

1. “What about me?” isn’t necessarily a selfish question. (It may not change my response but it helps to understand the perspective.)

2. It doesn’t pay to be an alarmist. That kind of anxiety drains, and doesn’t replenish. (Deep breaths restore balance.)

3. I can only control what is in my control. Trying to control everything else just leads to stress. (The serenity prayer takes on all new meaning.)

4. I am resourceful and can find another path when I choose to look for it. (I always say, “Motherhood is the necessity of invention.”)

5. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. When I limit complaining, everyone tends to be happier, including myself. (Positivity rules.)

6. Be prepared for anything, and withhold judgment when “anything” happens. (i.e. Make BACK UP plans and don’t blame anyone when you need to use them.) 

7. Always remember my sense of humor. (Don’t take life so seriously; choose laughter over tears.)

As my IT guy continues to work steadily in the other room (thanks, honey) to re-capture my data, I have to chuckle at the direct link I’ve discovered between raising ADHD kids and coping calmly with life’s surprises. Imagine that: the most turbulent part of my life – an ADHD family of 5 – brought me the gift of steadiness and calm! Go figure. Guess it’s time to contemplate what I think about that, too!

Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster, founders of, teach/write about practical strategies to parents of “complex” kids with ADHD and related challenges. To help your kids find the motivation to get anything done, download their free parent’s guide, The Parent’s Guide to Motivating Your Complex Child.


This article was originally published at ImpactADHD. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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