ADHD in a Divorced Family: The Clark Chronicles

When I married Clark’s father, I didn’t know two things: 

1.  He had ADHD

2.  Our marriage would end after 12 years

I’m not sure what impact foreknowledge of either fact would have exerted on my choices in 1992, the year we married, but the fact is marriage and parenthood involve lots of “future unknown” moments.

It is 2010 now, and the past is certain.  I had a beautiful son, Clark, in 1995, known to many of you that read {a mom’s view of ADHD} or “Road to Joy“.  Clark has ADHD.  Clark’s father and I split up nearly six years ago.  Since then, Clark’s dad and I have attempted, as best we could, to split parenting time and duties equally.  I think this makes us somewhat unique.  So unique that we confused our attorneys and judge.  But we wanted to send a clear signal to the kids that we loved them equally and believed in the other parent’s abilities.  

How did this custody arrangement work in practice?  For starters, it required us to live within walking distance of each other.  This is not a divorce blog, so I won’t bore you with the mundane issues, like “I preferred never to see this person again so why do I run into him at the Kroger grocery store every week?”  Kidding.  Sort of.  

As to custody, for our neuro-typical daughter, the arrangement works fine.  She’s organized and navigates the weekly transitions with ease, if not always with a perfect attitude.  “I don’t want to go back and forth,” she whines some weeks.  I’m lucky, though.  Even when it isn’t my week, she comes over after school and bothers me while I try to finish my work day, until her father is through with his and comes to pick her up.  The blessing and the curse of a home office!  (I love it)

The arrangement doesn’t work as well for Clark.  We’ve known this for a long time.  Clark has enough trouble organizing himself in one space.  Transitioning week by week is hard for him.  We tried to set up environments requiring him to tote as little as possible back and forth. But the stuff that trips him up can’t be duplicated.  Does he have his worksheet from Algebra?  Today is a debate tournament — did he leave his suit at the other house?  It was clear the strain of preparing to transition, transitioning, and failing in the transition stressed him out.  

From day one, I have asked/offered his father a primary space for Clark at my house.  His dad, understandably, didn’t want to give up the time with him.  Until recently.

Last month, Clark’s dad, tears rolling down his face, told me the time had come to let Clark maintain primary residence at my house and see his father every other weekend.  It hurts me on behalf of his dad to even type this.  I know how much he hated making this decision, but HE DID IT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF HIS CHILD.  Thank God.  Clark needed it.  And, as his dad explained to Clark and me, he has ADHD, too, and he was not the better parent/household for Clark.  Which is not to say he wasn’t great, he was and is.  He simply concluded that he could do BEST for Clark by giving him stability and stillness at La Hacienda de Hutchins.

Clark was elated.  He adores his father, but he hated the stress.

So, how’s it going so far?  Well, awesome, really.  Clark is still Clark, and he still has ADHD.  But our collective stress level has plummeted.  We have far fewer fire drills, running back and forth between houses, unable to determine at which one he left/lost what — usually his meds.  He does his work in the same place at the same time with the same rules and same supervision every day.  He suffers under the eagle eye of his VERY non-ADHD momma 🙂 which means an endless stream of prompts.  As in, “So Clark, what do you think you should do next?  And then?  And how about now?  Did you write it down?  Could you write it down?  If I begged you on bended knee would you consider writing it down?  Would you just pretend to write it down so I could have a moment of peace?  Thanks.”

I’m very happy.

How about you guys?  Do you any of you parent from split households?  How do you handle it?  How does it work for your neuro-atypical kid(s)?

Until next time,
Pamela aka Clark’s Mom

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes the Clark Kent Chronicles on parenting ADHD wonder kids, thanks to the crash course given to her by her ADHD son and his ADHD father. Pamela is the author of the book The Clark Kent Chronicles: A Mother’s Tale of Life With Her ADHD & Asperger’s Son, and many others, like How To Screw Up Your Kids and her bestselling, award-winning Katie & Annalise mystery series, led off by Saving Grace. Visit her blog, Road to Joy, where you can buy her books in any form, anywhere. Pamela is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship, as well as her husband and kids. Like Clark Kent, she also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

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Related posts:

General ADHD, high school, Pamela Hutchins, parenting/FAMILY, siblings, stress and resilience ·

About the author

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes the Clark Kent Chronicles on parenting ADHD wonder kids, thanks to the crash course given to her by her ADHD son and his ADHD father. Pamela is the author of the book The Clark Kent Chronicles: A Mother's Tale of Life With Her ADHD & Asperger's Son, and many others, like How To Screw Up Your Kids and her bestselling, award-winning Katie & Annalise mystery series, led off by Saving Grace. Visit her blog, Road to Joy, where you can buy her books in any form, anywhere. Pamela is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship, as well as her husband and kids. Like Clark Kent, she also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

13 Comments

  1. Christina says:

    Wow, Pamela – that is big news. That must have been an incredibly difficult decision for your ex-husband, and a very brave one. I'm so happy for Clark – give him a high-five for me!

    Reply
  2. I will, Christina! In month one, his overall grades have risen 15 points, and his stress level has decreased. Everyone is remarking upon how much more relaxed and cooperative he is. We are optimistic. And, we are working really hard to give him extra time with his father when he finishes everything on his schedule. Cross fingers and toes, so far so good.

    Reply
  3. Eric Hutchins (Step Dad) says:

    The change in Clark has been dramatic, it is completely understandable how thing played out the way they did, AND, there is no question that the current arrangement will help him greatly staying on track.
    If only divorce arrangements were all more about the kids and less about the parents…..

    Reply
  4. I'm so happy for Clark! I was just talking today with one of my foster parent friends about how so much of our judicial system and family arrangements are about the parents. They should be about the children. Good for all of you that you get it, even when it hurts.

    Reply
  5. dmd says:

    It sounds like both of you (well, all 3 of you) are really great parents to Clark. As hard as it sometimes gets, remember that!

    A long time ago, I heard that when Ted Nugent got divorced, he bought (and also could afford to buy) a house for the kids. He and his ex-wife swapped weeks living in the house with the kids. Too bad it can't be like that for kids with divorced parents in “real” life. (Of course, the parents might not see it that way… :-))

    Reply
  6. Kelly, thanks for your comment and the one on FB. You have such a unique situation, with the adoption and the birth parents. I agree with you about the system. I don't know how to fix it, but I agree with you.

    Reply
  7. dmd: wow, I hadn't heard that about Ted Nugent. What an amazing thing he was able to do. My ex and I lived walking distance for the first few years. Now that the kids are a little older, we are about 1.5 miles apart. This made it really easy for the kids. My husband's ex lives all the way across the country. Not easy at all. So we have lived both extremes in our household. If it wasn't all so personal, I could write a book 😉

    Reply
  8. Pamela,
    I have a 18 year old step son not living with us.. he had to go to his mom's because he has adhd and he had to many issues with his father who also has adhd… My son with my husband is 5… and I too have adhd.. but I take concerta.. and do fairly well.. I have many routines for myself and my son… and I work hard to keep my son in those routines.. but I am not sure if my marriage of only 6 years is going to last.. my husband is always yelling at my son.. and has zero tolerance… and he seems to name call him… about his behaviors.. it's a strain.. besides my husband takes no meds for his adhd.. and is always loosing or forgetting important work dates, home dates,,events etc.. even with my reminders… I would almost love to live walking distance with my son from my husband.. but I am not sure.. how I could afford that…. there are few apts… LOL
    I am glad your son clark.. is doing better and kudos for the father… who did the right thing..
    Lisa

    Reply
  9. Lisa, Oh I am going to be channeling positive energy your way. Sounds like you are under a LOT of stress. I hope you have good friends or family near to lean on, maybe a good counselor for tips on how to compensate and cope. Good luck Lisa!!!!!

    Reply
  10. Eric: Thank you, honey. You've been patient through every iteration of this arrangement. And with a testosterone-ridden 15-year old boy who can't be tethered and his crazed momma 😉

    Reply
  11. ryoko861 says:

    It's nice to see that this divorce has the children's needs as the most important issue. If and when Clark feels he's got life together, then maybe you can go back to the original set up.

    I like stories with happy endings!

    Reply
  12. Thanks, @ryoko861. Our hope is to help him feel successful and not cut off his opportunities now, but then reward the success by extra time away from the structured momma environment, with his fun dad. We've already had a few good opportunities to make that happen. Yay!

    Reply
  13. Parkskristn says:

    Thank u Nik fr this tip

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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