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ADHD Parents Together
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Family gathering woes

It's 11:45pm, and I'm in the kitchen eating pumpkin pie. Two pieces. I shouldn't, and I know it. But I am. Because I'm hurting.

I'm looking ahead to the rest of the holiday season, and all the family get togethers. We have several on the calendar for December.

My mother in law was here over Thanksgiving, and usually we get along okay. But this time, she kept making comments about my children. Little criticisms, little analytical comments about behavior, or even their motives.

This actually isn't anything new, she has been this way for years. It's just been better lately, the last year or so. But not this last week!

And her daughter is coming into town next month, with her husband and 6 month old baby. This sister in law was so forward with my children when she was here last, that I'm eating more pie tonight just thinking about it. Makes me want to cry. She and my mother in law reprimand my children in front of me, they "count to three" with a consequence at the end, while I'm cooking dinner, and make comments like "oh, he wasn't doing that at all until you walked into the room," said with a raised eyebrow and "knowing" look.

I've laid awake tonight, arguing with eachof them in my head, one at a time. The both together. Trying so hard to make them see the truth. That ADHD isn't my fault. That my children are doing excellent, considering what they have had to work with (we have severe speech delays, a daughter with ASD, and three diagnosed children with ADHD).

My seven year old son with ADHD has so many tics, that he's being watched for tourette's. He was in the second percentile for speech at the age of three, and was only 10% intelligible at the age of five.

We have come so far with him. Worked so hard.

And they call him a "Mama's boy," and smirk about me "giving in" to him.

It hurts. Makes me so angry. They know nothing of our journey, though they have watched us walk through it all.

I need to have the courage to stand up to them this holiday season. When they make those little side comments, or insinuate that George is a Mama's boy, I need to tell them the truth boldly. Here's what's on my heart to say:

"No, he is not a Mama's boy. I don't appreciate you speaking that way in my home. Truth is, George is doing excellent at school and we are so proud of him. He's a leader in the classroom and in his speech therapy sessions. He is a kind, thoughtful and creative child. And we at home only say words that encourage each one to be their best. We don't criticize, or "label" or assume the worst of someone's motives. We assume the best, and treat each one with respect. Each one is on their own journey, and we strive to meet each one's unique needs."

I don't think my words will mean anything to them. They have figured me for a permissive parent for so long, I don't think there's anything I could say to change their minds.

But, I can make it clear what's acceptable in my home, and in my family, and that's what I'm going to do.

I have so much on my plate with my children's needs, that this kind of stress is just too much. If any of you have advice or a story of your own to share, I would love to hear it. 😊

I'm going to put the pie away now....I already feel a little stronger just sharing with someone who gets it. Thank you.

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Good morning. I hate when those middle of the night angry “priorities “ pop up. For me it’s been in relation to figuring out how to get a decent education for my daughter. Amazing how angry you can get in the dead of the night. And family seeded problems… been there, not sure how I made it out alive. I don’t have words of wisdom but I am overloaded with empathy. And support that you can lean on. I know you are doing your best, which takes more energy and work than a lot of others can imagine needing on an average day. Keep up the great work and no matter what is said, you and most importantly your kids know you are a hero. Also, angry eating holds no calories. It’s all burned off with the thinking your doing ;)

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Thank you so much!!!😊 So encouraging...

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I think what you have to say is amazing! Who will speak up for our kids if we don't? And maybe they won't do anything and they won't change their ways, but you know who will know that you stood up for him? You and your child. Even if he's not in the room he will know because you do it all day long, every single day, all the time. You will know that you have done everything you can to raise an amazing, kind, leader.

Someone told me this long ago: It's none of your business what other people think about you.

That's all well and good most days. And then there are days when I just find the cool side of the pillow and try to think about the amazing thing my daughter said or did and not the fact that we got not one piece of homework done.

I'm thankful for you sharing your story, Hang in There!

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Thanks so much....for listening. For understanding. ❤️

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Big HUGS to you! It’ll be hard, but if you think about what the impact of their words and actions are having on your child, beyond just upsetting you, it will make it easier.

My mother in law also always proclaims he doesn’t pull those kind of things with her, and is always a perfect angel. But we’ve also discovered with my son that the more adults around, the more he’ll act up. So - he seems great for any one of us and gets overstimulated when ANYONE else comes into the room. I can’t say I’ve found the best way to approach it. And I definitely respect you for planning to take action.

Crossing my fingers for you!

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Yes! So true..... when each of my kids are alone, or one on one with an adult, their behavior is usually great. It's when they get even a little "overwhelmed" or the pressure is on for more social interaction. Then the craziness starts. Thank you so much for understanding. Ya, I'll have to see how this goes. I've been reading the book 7 habits of effective people, and talks about being proactive instead of reactive with situations. My gut feeling is to crawl away from these family events beaten, and blaming them for being awful and not understanding. But I'm going to try to do what he says in the book -- look at the situation, and think of a way to plan for a better outcome. Not be a victim. 😁

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That sounds great. I’ve actually had that book recommended. I think even Russell Barkley was singing it’s praises. Thank you for reminding me of it!

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Yes, he did! And I'm definitely seeing how these principles apply to raising children, especially with ADHD. ☺️

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Have you talked to your husband about this? Would he have a discussion with his mother and explain how hurtful her remarks are?

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I have spoken with him on several occasions, and his usual response is "why do you care what she thinks? It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about our kids or our parenting. Why do you let it bother you so much? Just let it go." Sigh.....if she kept her ideas and comments to herself, her and her daughter, then I could agree with my husband's approach. But because they are verbal about it, I can't just "let it go" or ignore it like I think he wants me to. I told him of my idea to simply confront members of his family this holiday season, should this pattern continue, and he thought it's a great idea. He just doesn't care to do it himself. Hummmm.....but I should ask him if he would do it himself. Come to think of it, his words, spoken to his side of the family, will most likely carry more weight than mine. Or if we do it together. Thanks so much for that encouragement! I'll see what happens.

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This was my thought also... your husband should talk to his family. You are a family and this is just rude for anyone to come in your home and criticize your children. Maybe you should give them the gift of the book, 7 habits of effective people for Christmas. They are not walking in your shoes and they do need to understand your feelings. Burying their head in the sand isn't helping you or your children because they sense the tension.

I get this with my adult ADHD husband when we visit my family (recently, Thanksgiving day). They get frustrated because he talks too much and fire questions at me as to why can't he be still.... it is hurtful and all I do is referee situations. It is stressful but my family does not see the other side of this sensitive, witty, talented complexed man.

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i TOOOTALLY agree!! you say it, then your a bit--. if HE says it, it will probably sound sweet! haha! they have NOOOO idea what you guys deal with on a daily basis. your husband probably has the right idea, but it really isn't fair for them to make YOU feel that way. the kids pick up on that stuff too! their not dumb!! matter of fact, they are known to be smarter and kinder than most!! plus they can't help their differences and it makes me FURIOUS when others think they know how we should be raising our children. but i was probably one of those outsiders before having my own kids;) hang tough!!! you sound like an AMAZING mom and person! for me, sometimes just coming on here venting helps a TON!! ox

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I've been there.... being so angry about what in-laws said.... I only have one ADHD child.

My mother in law raised my husband's brother, sister, and my husband (suspect untreated ADD) with help of neighbours and her mother in laws.

I really got angry about her comments especially when we decided to visit my family out of country. She was worried about our financial situation, but I don't see my family even every year! I don't have support from my husband's side..... I really needed to go!!

Do you really have to have Christmas gathering at your place? Is it possible to make an excuse to cancel it??

I know how you feel and those rehearsal words keep spinning in your head. But, would it worth it to try convincing them? I don't know your relatives so I'm not sure how they would react to your comments. It might cause you more stress. I'm not so tactful of this type of problem solving but if I were you, I would just call your mother in law and sister in law before the gathering and give them a heads up how you felt last time..... Keep it short though.

I know this is very upsetting and hard to keep it in your mind. I tried to explain my own mother and sister about my son's symptoms, delays, and odd behaviours too. It just took them so long to understand and accept it. In laws would take longer to understand this is not related to parenting.....

I hope you'll find what you are looking for. Hugs for you.

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I went through a very bad phase with my husband’s parents. Things are better now but I really had to get better at drawing boundaries and my husband had to get better at standing up to his parents. My husband and I had to figure this out together as a team - it was not easy and it’s still a work in progress. But no-one has a right to say belittling things to you or your kids - you can speak up however much you want and you can also limit your interaction with them. You don’t even owe anyone an explanation - we just did Thanksgiving with no in-laws at all. We won’t do that every year - but we needed a break from them and it was amazing. Also, I realized that once I got stronger on the boundaries I really cared about it was easier to get the little stuff go. You are the mom - it’s your job to protect your kids - trust your instincts. Good luck!

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Well said! I agree with you 100%

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Thank you so much! Such good words of wisdom and strength. I feel much stronger hearing all of your voices. Thank you. ❤️

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I wish i could be with you this holiday season! I feel the 4 of you need to discuss this matter alone sister mom inlaw husband and you soon as the time is right. (Before they get comfortable in your home). Make your husband speak up (back you). And lay out your feelings about their comments, the highs and lows of your children's disabilities and your family success stories and and tell them you dread them coming and you feel like they are bullies. But before the bully part tell them how they can redirect the children and properly the children can since the tenseness in you and they become over whelmed. Say ALL OF IT! GOOD LUCK. But please you and your husband stand up to them and put a end to this. Start off saying something is really brothering me and i cant go another hoilday without comforting the situation. And you might have to tell your husband if he dont jump on board no more family gatherings from his side is going to he hosted at your home. And tell them that too if they cant keep comments to thier self and respect your family and their short commings you dont want to make this the last event. Go head mama bear i believe you can do this with respect for every one. But you have to be strong. Pray and asked God for them to receive your words give you the right words to say, pray your husband step up.

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Thank you SO much for your words of advice and encouragement! You've totally given my heart more strength, sister! Are you sure you can't come over this holiday season and say it all for me?!? Lol! 😅

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Love you! You got this!!!

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My heart goes out to you. Some people just don’t get it. My mother is similar but I’m not afraid of a bit of confrontation with her so I nipped that issue many years ago when my daughter was young. She’s much better now but when she starts in with her pessimist point of view I have to remind her to cut it out or just keep my distance for a while. It’s easier done with my own mom than an in-law.

Stand your ground. You know what your children need better than anyone else. If your in-laws aren’t willing to be positive participants in your children’s progress and celebrate the good in them, then hopefully you can limit your time with them.

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Thank you for understanding, and your advice. I so appreciate hearing from you and the others here what you've tried, what works, and how to survive this road. Thank you. ❤️

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First, you are doing amazing with your family. Keep up the good work!

I’m a Mom with a 7 yr old boy that was diagnosed with ADHD in April and am still exploring what else is going on (ODD? Depression?). I was an advocate for my son everyday, through every thrown toy, slammed door and refusal to eat at the table. My husband, parents, and mother in law all were on my case about “giving in” or being too leneant. Punishment is what he needs. To be shown his place in the house. “You should be a parent, not a friend.” It was so hurtful and made me feel so alone. But I did what I thought was best for my child and stood up for him to everyone.

I do have some regrets, but I will never regret advocating for my child, standing by his side every day, and telling all my loved ones to educate themselves in order to be truly helpful or to shove it (in a nice way). There is no judging in my house and I'm the only one that is allowed to mother my child.

I’ve won over my husband and my parents (I later found that I have ADHD and so does my Dad, and my Mom is convinced that she’s the only sane one in the family). I can’t seem to get through to my mother in law. I can’t change how she feels and my husband refuses to help. But we do have a polite understanding that I am the only Mom in my house and husband and my Mom have been backing me up which has been amazing. For now, that will have to be good enough.

Good luck with everything! And stay away from the pie :) If you don’t work out, try it. I’m amazing for the stress that comes with this and all the conversations in your head make you work out strong and hard!

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Thank you so much for sharing! Gosh, I can so relate. Yes, my husband sided with his family in the beginning, too. Those were extremely tough years. I was so alone advocating for my children.

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Sometimes it’s more stressful talking to someone; have you considered writing them letters detailing how you feel? You can schedule a call or in-person meeting to discuss things, but writing down your thoughts allows you to be exact in what you say, as opposed to stumbling for responses in the heat of things. I also agree with other comments about not having every holiday visit at your house. You can then choose whether or not you want to go based on how people are treating your children. It’s incredibly difficult standing up to people who we see as authority figures (parents, grandparents, in-laws) because we have been taught as children that our thoughts and opinions don’t matter. I’m glad to see a shift of parenting that allows kids to have a voice and speak up when they’re upset, rather than “be seen and not heard”. Good luck.

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Yes!! I can't agree more....thank you for that suggestion. I just might do that -- I can get my thoughts out better if I write. I can get overwhelmed by negative facial expressions and body language, and people who think faster on their feet. So, writing first might totally be best on my end. Thanks again! ❤️

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Another idea as I’m re reading through… one thing that helps me to understand what my daughter is really dealing with and how to help is by read about it. I’ve seen short articles that take you through the day or mind of our children who see and feel things different than others. I might print or even silently email something like that as well as a succinct write up of effective do’s and dont’s or something. Something from a reputable source they won’t dispute the validity of that gives them a sort of day in the life feel. And from there, just a simple something like, “ I really appreciate your interest in my children and understanding their quirks. If you have more thoughts or questions, I would love to help you better understand your grandchildren. It is clear how much you love them”. It’s hard to do but sometimes you need to lay out some extra honey to catch the buzzards lol

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Wow, great idea! I so appreciate it.

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I feel I get judged for being too hard on mine. I’ve been told my expectations are just too high, but I don’t want to sell my kids short like that. Yes, things are harder for them sometimes than it would be if they didn’t have ADHD, but I’m not going to coddle them. One day they’ll be adults, out in the harsh world. They have to learn the life skills to survive and no one out there is going to coddle them. Anyway, my point is, sometimes with (well meaning) family and friends, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Just do the best you know to do and try to forgive your family’s judgment.

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So, so true.....thank you so much. ❤️

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Makes me feel better about my two slices of late night drama dessert last night to have company 😊 I love what you plan to say to them!

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hi Momof4blessings, so now the holidays are behind us, how are you doing? Did you weather the in-laws ok?

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