One of the most exciting parts of starting a family is dreaming what it will be like. Who will the kids look like? What will their passions be? Will they be each other’s best friend? We each have hopes and expectations as we wonder about those family dynamics. The addition of an ADHDer can change the landscape of that picture. Two kids with ADHD can really spice things up! Or maybe their close relationship is what brings harmony and love that set the tone in your home.
There is nothing typical about parenting – we each have a unique journey! Today Norrine and I are sharing our own very different family scenarios in hopes of reminding you that while each family looks different, each is to be treasured.
Norrine’s Family: Atypical Kids But Really Kind of Typical Siblings
I think in some ways, I’ve been lucky with my two kids. For one thing, I had to have them close together because I was OLD, apparently, VERY, VERY OLD. And my IVF doctor told me I had no time to waste!
Mine are 19 months apart and one grade apart in school. They are both complex (COMPLEX) ADHDers, which for us means anxiety, giftedness, and autism is also part of our family. One of our realities has been that sometimes even just leaving the house can be difficult and so they have spent a lot of time at home together (great preparation for the pandemic by the way!). I would say they truly are each other’s best friends. They understand each other, don’t put up with nonsense from each other, and truly support each other.
One of the things about their relationship that touches my heart is how they look out for each other. Ali pointed out that that’s pretty typical sibling behavior in some ways. I guess that’s the story of my two kids’ sibling relationship–it’s actually pretty typical. They play together every day, share books and games, meet up on Roblox, bring gifts home for each other, and definitely have each other’s back.
With two complex ADHDers, their relationship has certainly been one of our bright spots in our family and we realize that we are fortunate. We are incredibly thankful for this spot of good fortune among the many daily challenges. Seeing such typical family interactions between my atypical kids feeds my soul and gives me that all too rarely felt peaceful, easy feeling.
Ali’s Family: Will They Ever Be on the Same Page?
I was thrilled to be an official Boy Mom. Our first son was structured, colored in between the lines and made parenting books mostly look like an easy “how to.” Our second son, born three years later, was the easiest baby but had me pitching my parenting books by the time he was two. Our family dinners now had a preschooler circling the table instead of sitting in his seat. Later, family movie nights were a bust because he’d lose interest in the first several minutes then disappear. He’d constantly show up places without having shoes on. This shattered our family dynamic as our older son questioned what he saw as anarchy. And he missed my calm, even-paced parenting which was dissipating fast.
As the elementary school years unfolded, my son’s impulsivity and unique way of thinking created a growing chasm between my boys. One treasured LEGO instructions while the other created by imagination. One thrived on schoolwork, which melted down the other. Official ADHD and anxiety diagnoses meant differing parameters and expectations for our boys, which gave way to resentment and record keeping. Today, my struggling high schooler and overachieving college junior rarely find common ground. Their vast personality differences seem to evaporate a chance for friendship and that leaves our hearts heavy as parents. Yet what makes each of them unique has been our greatest joy to watch unfold.
ADHDers require a different type of parenting that may fly in the face of a justice-oriented, typical kid. It sprouts bitterness, creating a rift between siblings. It’s not what we envisioned, but this has given us many priceless opportunities to grow both of them, encouraging each to see beyond their own feelings to value others. Maybe these are lessons they’ll need to parent their own very different kids. It’s continually really hard work for us, but our hope is as they mature, one day they will truly become friends. It just isn’t today.
Norrine and I both have different struggles and bright spots in parenting. We’ve found you can’t have one without the other and that’s ok. There are no guarantees when starting a family, let alone adding in ADHD+ers. The good stuff is where we’re meant to find fuel for chipping away at the hard places. As we always say, we were hand picked for this job which leads us to believe our kids were also meant for each other.
What are your children’s relationships like? How does that change your parenting experience? We’d love to hear from you to find out what your biggest joys and challenges are.