The Struggles and Rewards of Parenting a Child with ADHD

EPISODE #36  | Debbie Dugan, a mom of an adult son with ADHD, a podcast scribe, and Saint Louis Counseling Business Development/Marketing Director

If you take any nugget away from this podcast, hopefully it’s that parenting a child with ADHD has many rewards, along with many challenges. So often, ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is judged as a result of bad parenting or lack of disciplining. Kids and adults with ADHD are often judged as lazy or scattered. But as we learn more about the brain – and executive functioning in particular – we’re also learning that ADHD is physiological. In fact, the prefrontal cortex of an ADHD brain actually looks different on MRIs than those of people without ADHD. According to Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., a leading expert in the study and treatment of ADHD, “a new working definition of ADHD equals a complex syndrome of developmental impairments of executive functions, the self-management system of the brain, a system of mostly unconscious operations. These impairments are situationally variable, chronic, and significantly interfere with functioning in many aspects of the person’s daily life.”

As a mom of a 21-year-old son who has ADHD, understanding this “complex syndrome” has taken time – and involved many mistakes and much humility along the way. Finding the answers to our kids’ struggles can be difficult, no matter what those circumstances or conditions may be. But as with most of life’s questions, there are many people and experts who can help us navigate the journey, including therapists at Saint Louis Counseling! Hopefully, this podcast with Executive Director Tom Duff, LCSW, MSW and this scribe will help other parents know that they are not alone. And if your tendency is to think that you should have done more for your child, it’s time to cut yourself some slack and remember that we’re all doing our best to help our kids become the very best versions of themselves, as their true selves, no matter what diagnosis they may or may not have! Breaking down stigma starts with us!