Parenting & ADHD: Dealing with judgement

Are you a good parent? How do you know?

I have always thought that I was a good parent. I always put my child first, no matter what. My focus is generally on him, whenever he is home from school. Of course, there is always house work that needs done, a shower that needs to be taken, or a shift that needs to be picked up at work, but I try to keep my attention on my son. 

The other day, a person close to me called my parenting methods into question. Earlier in the day, I had already gotten a call from my son's school because he nonchalantly said "I want to stab myself with a knife." You should have seen my face when his teacher told me, but truthfully I wasn't surprised. You see, my son watches a lot of YouTube. As much as my husband and I try to monitor what he is watching, there is always a video that gets in there that is not parent approved. And the video that sparked the "outburst"? A prank video. And yes, I watched it with him. But why if I watched the video with him, would he say "I want to stab myself with a knife"? It's simple: because he didn't know what that phrase meant. 

After school, I asked him about the phrase and asked why he would want to stab himself with a knife. His response: "Because I want to feel what it feels like." I asked him if he understood that stabbing himself with a knife would include blood, needles, and stitches. He asked me how much blood (he's the type of kid that freaks out with seeing the blood when he looses a tooth). I told him that there would be a whole lot of blood, and it would hurt. His response: "Oh no, I don't want to do that then!" He then proceeded to tell me about the YouTube video prank with a plastic knife. I immediately understood what he was talking about. I believe that in his mind, he wanted to try the prank, but didn't understand what was actually going on. And the reason that any educated person would question what my son had said, was because he is six and doesn't understand how to elaborate. He just says what comes to his mind.

The reason for the outburst, comes back to YouTube, and the fact that he watches a lot of it. But before you call my parenting into question and ask why my six year old son watches a lot of YouTube, allow me to explain. 

I give my son the phone to keep him occupied. If he is acting hyper and uncontrollable, putting him in a quiet place is not always easy. His mind is like a hamster on a wheel, and the hamster is on a mission to break out of its cage. His mind never stops. It's full throttle wide open. He is only quiet when he is watching YouTube or playing a game on the phone, in a quiet environment like our home, or sleeping.

Everything overstimulates him, except the phone. 
And that's the life of a six year old with ADHD.

Before you ask if my son is medicated, I am going to tell you that he is. He was diagnosed with ADHD in April of 2016 at age 5, and immediately we began to medicate. Truthfully, I didn't want to, but in all honesty, my marriage depended on it. Before my son was diagnosed, he wasn't listening to neither my husband nor me, was fearless, was always energetic, and was mean to my parents's dogs. It was to the point that I had to walk away at times, and that my husband didn't want to come home after work anymore. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. That it was my fault that my son wasn't normal. 

Of course, at the time all this was happening, I was working Monday-Friday and my son was with my parents most of the week. But my only saving grace was the fact that they were too seeing the behaviors.

I digress.

It hurt when my parenting methods, particularly the phone issue, were called into question. In essence, I was told that I was a shit parent, and when my son acted up, I needed to beat his ass. Oh, and that at six years old, he had no business watching YouTube because of all of the language. *I tend to cuss a lot, I guess you can say that the f-word is my favorite, but till this day, my son has only said "what the hell" and that's it. He will catch himself if he blurts out something else, but he knows that cuss words are for adults.

The funny thing is that this all happened, because my son didn't want to share a child-size couch and then got mouthy with an adult.

Ok, so I am not against a good ass beating- I was born in the 80's and I'm no stranger to a paddle, wooden spoon... whatever my mom could get her hands on- but I am against one when it's not warranted. To be honest, we used to smack our son's ass. If he didn't listen, he got a smack. If he acted up, he got a smack. It was the normal. It was the normal until my son held a stuffed bear down, told the bear that he was a "bad bear", and proceeded to smack the bear's bottom. I was dumbfounded because in that moment, I saw the contradictions of physical discipline and the effects that it has on a child. At that point, I decided that I needed to practice what I preach- nonviolent discipline. From then on, my son only had time outs.

The reason that I am opening up about this incident is not because I want to make the person feel bad or for someone to say something to them, it's because I want to make people understand. Understand that it's not right to judge a parent. You never know the reasoning behind what they do or don't do.

For me, I am tired of being judged for the fact that I let my six year old play on a phone to occupy him. I am tired of trying to make everyone happy, and I am tired of being judged. I am trying my best with the tools and resources that I have available to me, and if anything, I need encouragement the most. 

I want to be told, "Hey, it's ok. Everyone raises their child differently and you are doing a great job."

For more on our journey with Parenting & ADHD, read here.

ADHD, children, parenting

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