Handling a child with a disorder can be challenging. Parents who have such kids know all too well that they need to put extra effort and extra care in order to be able to cope with the situation at home and at school.
Sometimes, however, as they are too busy helping their children turn into respected individuals while dealing with their issues, they forget that there are always things about their kids to be proud of.
A mom took to the Internet to share a touching story about her difficult child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, a condition resulting in having trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or being overly active.
This story originally appeared on Heather’s Blog, and we thought it was worth sharing with the rest of the world hoping it would reach parents who struggle to handle difficult children, just like this mom.
“A little over two years ago, panic attacks abruptly replaced my ability to sleep. After a week of misery, I went to the doctor and asked for help. A battery of tests came back normal, and I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and mild depression. As a part of my treatment, I began seeing a counselor.
“My counselor practiced cognitive behavioral therapy, which didn’t immediately connect with me. We spent our first session debating the realistic odds of my entire family coming down with intestinal illness on our upcoming missions trip to Ecuador. My counselor tried to convince me that I was severely overestimating the probability of this event. (As it turns out, my odds were pretty accurate. But we all survived, so at least she was correct about that.) I left with significant doubts about the helpfulness of her approach.
“Things got a lot better when I started to talk about things closer to the heart of my anxiety, like my struggles parenting my son with ADHD. My counselor had a child with ADHD, and I could tell that this time, she understood me with her heart. She was listening with empathy. She had been there,” Heather started her story.
“I can’t remember exactly what drama was happening at the time with Josiah and his homeschool support program. Was it soon after he got in trouble for eating his science experiment, despite being warned not to by his teacher? Or was it the time a different teacher told me he had been on his face, eating the dirt between classes? (Turns out he wanted to literally bite the dust.)
“No matter what was happening on campus, I know for certain what was happening at home, because it never let up. Josiah and I clashed daily over his schoolwork and his difficulties focusing. He seemed driven to reject every suggestion I offered, every strategy I researched. Rather than reaching for what might help him, I watched him cling to those things that made him miserable and unsuccessful. I struggled with discerning what was genuinely difficult or impossible for him because of his ADHD, and what was simply attitude.”
“As I poured out my struggles to my counselor, I could feel her understanding and support. When I paused, she asked me one question: ‘When you pray for Josiah, what do you pray for?’ Oh, I had a lot to say. I prayed he’d find his center, make good choices, avoid disaster, follow Jesus. I prayed I would know how to parent him. And I prayed…
“My counselor gently interrupted. “What do you thank God for about Josiah?” she asked. I blinked. I had been too busy crying out for help to spend a lot of time in thankfulness.
“‘Next time you pray for Josiah,’ my counselor suggested, ‘try thanking God for what’s good and right about him. It will change your perspective and help you understand him.’
“Every now and then, you hear something that is absolutely simple, absolutely true, and perfectly timed to change you. This was one of those times. My counselor was right. Practicing gratitude for my son profoundly alters my perspective and eases my anxiety.”
“Josiah is 14 now, and the force of puberty is strong with him. He’s beginning high school next year in a large public school. We have not given up petition for this boy! But I have to remember not to start and end there.
“Josiah graduates from 8th grade today, one of three graduates from our homeschool support program. I’m supposed to give a small speech, and I compiled a list of what makes me thankful when I think of my son. I want him to hear (again) these things that are true about him, and I want him to know that this is who he is:
- He is funny and good-natured. His craziness is never directed at hurting anybody, and the younger boys in school love hanging around him. He can laugh at himself.
- He is honest. I can trust that his version of what happened is true.
- He is strong and helpful. He will uncomplainingly lend a hand if I ask.
- He is curious and loves learning. He asks great questions. He uses his free time to explore new concepts. He wants to become a professor of political and economic philosophy. He has a wonderful writing voice.
- He is original. He refuses to blindly copy somebody else, but forges a new path. He thinks far outside the box.
- He is generous. He spends almost all his money on others.
- He cares about his friends and the world. He’s willing to sacrifice for them. He wants to follow Jesus and make the world a better place.
“Writing out a list like that for your child (and remembering it when you’re desperate) really does change your perspective, especially if he or she is the cause of your graying hair, or contributes to your sleepless nights. At the very least, it fills your heart with love and gratitude. There’s a magic in that, too.”
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Love and Peace