the dysfunctional adhd

A Dysfunctional family by definition is a family, in which conflict, misbehavior, and often abuse on the part of individual members of the family occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions.
We may all be familiar with the term, “dysfunctional.”We all may have it in one form or another.However, when you are a victim of it, you have two choices, beat ‘em or join ‘em.Our family is choosing to beat ‘em.
While it may seem harsh, ADHD is a dysfunction.We are not talking typical sibling rivalry, or parents disagreeing on parenting.When living with ADHD, a child’s behavior can affect the entire family, and in our home, it has.We have all taken on roles with this dysfunction.It has taken a toll on ALL of us. 
 
My little girl who is almost 4 has taken the brunt of it.In the past, we never quite knew how our son was going to react to situations.It is hard on us as his parents; I can’t imagine what it is like for Kate.She’s an easy target.She‘s little and lovable as can be.Since she was a baby, she has been taking his behavior and we are trying to put a stop to it because I don’t want her to resent him someday for his disability.I want her to be accepting, but I don’t expect her to think that his behavior is acceptable.I don’t want her to think she just needs to deal with it.I don’t want her to be a victim of dysfunction. She has learned some behaviors of his that I know are not truly hers.She does them because she has seen him get away with them.She is tough; we actually call her “Tuffy” because she gives it right back to him.We would laugh at this at times, all the while knowing it wasn’t ok for her to behave that way, but we allowed it because he was always so hard on her and we knew it was her way of dealing with it.But I know it breaks her heart when her brother knocks her down (emotionally). 
She actually began stuttering at the height of his diagnosis.It would come and go for some time while we were managing his medications. It saddened me, because when he is doing well, their relationship was so special and sweet.They’d hold hands, they’d laugh under tents, they’d play house together, they’d play puppies, and they’d build forts together…But then all of that was taken away when he hit her or said he didn’t love her, or said he wants the next-door neighbors kid as his sister.It is one thing to say those things to my husband and myself, but when he crushed her like that, I didn’t know what to do.I knew this was part of his symptoms of ADHD, but I was loosing patience with it because I don’t want her to fall the victim of being a co-dependent to her brother.There were no more excuses for that behavior and he needed to be held accountable for his actions and words.
 
In the past, I excused this behavior because I thought it wasn’t in his control. I was wrong to believe that because he has shown me that he is capable of making good choices, he just needs tools to use when he finds himself in a situation that causes such anger and irritability.It is no longer acceptable and he knows it, because I finally bucked up and laid down the law.In fact, I just went to celebrate that very behavior for him today at school because he was chosen to be “The Leader of The Week.”His teachers tell me that he is the sweetest boy and that he is so helpful and empathetic to his friends.“Wow! Are you talking about MY son!?” Now I know he is capable and I am calling him on it.No more excuses.No more accommodating that behavior.That is dysfunctional.
I’ve seen what dysfunction can do to someone after 37 years, growing up in a dysfunctional family myself.Up until last week I was in survival mode and my co-dependence was in full swing.In my last article, I said that I was going to hire a Behavior Specialist.It is the best thing I have done yet since his diagnosis (along with medication).As a parent, I knew I needed to relinquish control, because it (ADHD) was controlling our family.We were heading down the road of dysfunction; a road I knew I had to steer in a different direction.
So it is time for new beginnings in our family.A time to sit back and watch a system that has been strategically put in place to have a positive outcome.I can no longer be a victim to ADHD, and I can no longer sit back and watch our family fall apart.I am no longer surviving, I am living!!!

Melissa Johnston

Melissa Johnston is a wife, mother of two and an elementary school teacher in NY. Her elementary-aged son is diagnosed with ADHD.

Melissa is passionate about helping parents and educators understand the meaning of ADHD. As a teacher, she believes it is vital that children who are diagnosed with ADHD are taught to their learning style. In order to do so, she believes children’s needs need to be met in the classroom setting, along with other accommodations that provide support with this neurological disorder (ie. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language, Counseling, and Behavior Therapy).

Related posts:

adhd behavior problems, behavior modification, General ADHD, Melissa Johnston, NEWLY DIAGNOSED, parenting/FAMILY, stress and resilience ·

About the author

Melissa Johnston is a wife, mother of two and an elementary school teacher in NY. Her elementary-aged son is diagnosed with ADHD. Melissa is passionate about helping parents and educators understand the meaning of ADHD. As a teacher, she believes it is vital that children who are diagnosed with ADHD are taught to their learning style. In order to do so, she believes children's needs need to be met in the classroom setting, along with other accommodations that provide support with this neurological disorder (ie. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language, Counseling, and Behavior Therapy).

8 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    I think it is so wonderful that you recognize this and are working on it. I was in your daughter's shoes growing up, except my older sister was mentally retarded. And yes, we were very dysfunctional. I actually wrote about this recently in my own blog — and I cried through the process. Bless you for trying!
    Karen
    http://www.specialneedsabudhabi.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. this is lovely… I love the way you express.. pain and difficulty.. I have looked for a behavior specialist.. with no luck… but I agree about the dysfunction… adhd can cause.. and I let it go on.. until the parent teacher conference.. when the teacher told me how well he behaves in school.. then I knew.. he could control it… thanks for a great article

    Reply
  3. Ah, dysfunction. It's wrong, but sometimes I feel so much more comfortable, so at home, in the middle of serious dysfunction. But, you're right. It's a legacy that has lasting effects on the most innocent. I began seeing a therapist privately shortly after our first visits with the behavioral therapist and my eyes were seriously opened. Good for you for doing the hard work now, while you can still set the pace for the kids' future.

    Reply
  4. dmd says:

    I think I saw a statistic a long time ago that only about 5% of families would actually qualify as “functional.” So you are in good company! I think almost every family has their dysfunctions. I look at my family growing up. There was not a lot of drama…but there was not a lot shared, either, even though there was a lot of love. As a result, at 44 I have no idea what the story is on my father and why I never knew him or his family. And that's just an example.

    The teachers tell me, too, that my son is so very kind. And I sometimes think, Really? But he is, it's just that he let's “go” at home and also has times at home when he is not on meds. But a teacher friend of mine told me that it's better to have a child who will try to behave in “public” but be a terror at home than the reverse. Those are the parents who can't believe their child would ever act the way they are being told he does at school. That would be really really hard.

    Reply
  5. joem says:

    This blog and the comments are just soooo relatable to me, thank you all for allowing me to feel 'normal' in the sea of abnormalacy I live in. You decribe my son (nearly 8, ADHD, anxiety disorder, dyslexic, dysgraphic) and my daughter (5yrs old) exactly. My little girl is a “Tuffy” too 🙂 she is never going to let anyone push her around. My son has taught me the very meaning of patience and unconditional love, so I have to believe that this was her destiny too, her lesson to learn. At least that is what I hope.

    Reply
  6. It must be so hard to balance the needs of your two – but it sounds like you're aware of it and thinking about it, so I'm sure you'll work it out! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Stephanie says:

    I never connected my own daughter's stuttering to difficulties in dealing with her ADHD brother; it comes and goes with the ups and downs of his behavior and how well we, as parents, deal with it all. Thank you for giving me something to think about and work on to improve our relationship.

    Reply
  8. Thank you all for your comments. It'sad, but yet so nice to know we are not alone. Unconditional love is what keeps this family going. Thank you for your support! Glad I can help 🙂
    Melissa

    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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