- Created on Friday, 02 November 2012 16:32
- Written by Dave Pughe-Parry
- Hits: 247
ADHD marriages tend to be very volatile whether it is the parents or the children who have ADHD. Remember if a child has ADHD there is an 80% possibility that at least one parent has the condition as well. Many ADHD marriages end in divorce.
I wrote the article below to assist a family going through a divorce, and simultaneous new diagnosis of ADHD in one of the children.
These guidelines will help all who find themselves in a similar separation or divorce situations.
I have spoken to both of you and thought it would beneficial for both of you to get some guidelines as to what to do and what not to do. You are in the process of separating, so if you put into place these guidelines, a better quality of life is guaranteed for all. I am not standing in judgement of anyone here. I have ADHD and I am divorced too.
Firstly, medication does not solve the problem of ADHD. You have to employ a number of strategies, of which medication, ADHD Coaching and loving consistent structure are the most important. There is no ""magic bullet.""
Probably the most critical of the 3 strategies above is the loving and consistent structure. It is extremely difficult to create and sustain this during a separation and divorce. It's so easy for the parent who has less access to want to spoil the children. There is also a natural tendency to prove to your children that you are the ""better"" parent, or to disprove any badmouthing from the other parent that may, or may not, have occurred.
Here are my guidelines for mitigating the effect of the separation on your ADHD children:
- Do not use the children as weapons in the divorce action. The children need to know that you BOTH love them and that the divorce is between you, not them. There have to be very compelling reasons why one parent is ever denied access, no matter what the lawyers tell you.
- ADHD children will take responsibility for the divorce. In their minds they will say things like, ""if I had done my homework, my Dad/Mom would still be here.""
- Do not bad-mouth your spouse in front of the children. How can the child ever have a good relationship with their parents when they are told that the other parent is useless, ugly, mean, or whatever.
- Both of you must develop and agree a set of boundaries and consequences. Especially now that you are not living together, a set of boundaries and consequences that both parents, and grandparents implement is absolutely vital. It is this consistent structure with some unconditional love added in that enable the children to love both parents, and be loved by all in their environment. Boundaries and consequences do not inhibit having a loving time with the children.
- Do not make the children the bearers of instructions for the other parent. For example, ""Mom says I have to go to sleep at 7 tonight."" You are putting the child in a very difficult position as the other parent does not know whether this is true, or not, and it puts the child in a position of authority over the parent. This type of action does enormous long term negative damage to the child.
- Under no circumstances must the boys ever be told, or hinted at, that they are now ""the man in the house!"" How on earth can can a 9 year old, even a 14 or 15 year old boy, be the ""man"" in the house. This causes severe long term emotional effects, and immediate role confusion. The boy might change a light bulb, or do other ""manly"" things around the house, then when he asks to go out, he is told no, because he is a child. One minute a man, next a boy - who is he? They will also often ""fail"" at being men, and so they feel inadequate and useless, leading to frustration and even aggressive behaviour.
- When making decisions after the separation or divorce, ask yourself this simple question, ""am I doing the best thing for my child?"" The answers are usually a lot harder, but they are so worthwhile in the long run.
When it comes to medication you need to monitor how the child reacts to it. By far the vast majority of children have absolutely no side effects whatsoever.
- There are times during the day that need more parental attention than others.The time from waking up to getting to school are critical. If there is an upset, squabble, or fear at that time, the ADHD child will usually carry that through the rest of the day.
- The time when the medication wears off. Some medications, or some children, experience that time intensely and have emotional downs. Many liken it to having their glasses taken away, and they feel they can't cope. Some even become weepy.
- Methylphenidate - the active ingredient in Ritalin and Concerta - does not keep children awake. A random hyperactive brain does. We have found over and over that a short acting Ritalin calms the brain enough for the child to go to sleep.
- ADHD children have ADHD 24 hours a day, not just at school. This means that they have their meds over the weekend and during school holidays. The meds are not concentration pills, they are enablers. They enable the child to cope, and to function effectively.
- I prefer the long acting meds. Short acting should only be used as a top up during very stressful times, or to cover short periods when the long acting has worn off. The long acting meds avoid the ""roller-coaster effect"" that the short acting cause.
Here are the guideline times of coverage for the different meds:
- Short acting. Ritalin and generics supply cover for approximately 4 hours. 2 hours up and 2 hours down.
- Ritalin LA: Cover for approximately 8 hours. 20 minutes up, then a slight dip at around 4 hours, then back up for 4 hours.
- Concerta: Cover for approximately 12 hours. 20 minutes up, then a steady release for 12 hours.
I hope this helps you both.