When extended family avoids us, it hurts - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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When extended family avoids us, it hurts

Momof4blessings profile image

We have several children diagnosed with ADHD, one autism as well. It's been a very hard road for my husband and I. We do our best to have joy and enjoy our children despite the challenging behavior. But one of the hardest things for me to see, is when our own family members choose to avoid us. My mom will host an event and not invite us, but my siblings will all show up. Or, one or two of my brothers will avoid going to an event at mom's if he knows I'm bringing all the children. And my husband's side is no better. His brother is staying for two weeks on the family ranch, and we were told to join them for dinner last night. Or so I thought. We pulled up to their RV, and realized that other family members were already there. Looks were cast our way, as though most of them didn't expect to see us. Then my sister in law, says, while sweeping angrily, "I had no idea you guys were coming tonight. I don't have room, so excuse me while I sweep, I'm trying to make room for all of you." It was SO awkward! I told her we could head home, we didn't need to stay for dinner, but I suppose she recovered her manners and insisted there was plenty of food. We ate and left. Today she tried to make things feel better between us, but I came away broken. She commented that the other family members there last night were telling her they were feeling overwhelmed by so many people....

We live on this property. The family held a get together at the bottom of the hill, and didn't invite us. One uncle told my husband to come on down, and my husband told me we had a dinner invite. But his wife and everyone else did not expect us.

I feel so broken. It hurts when my children are too much for the family. I get it, they are a lot. Often they are too much for me! But darn it, it hurts. My gut wants to pull away from the whole lot of them....who needs them anyway? And then I know deep down that's not the answer. Has anyone else had similar family experiences? Please tell me I'm not alone!

7 Replies

Oh my goodness gracious. I am so sorry to read this. I hurt for you and definitely understand the pain because we have experienced some measure of that with my own extended family. I choose not to interact with some of the members of my family because of it. I chose that by the way for my children. My children might experience that sort of response to their behaviors, energy level, social differences from the outside world, but I expect better from their family. I expect their family to be their safe place to land and demonstrate some understanding when they don’t get it right. I am so sorry you are experiencing this too, but I want you to know you are not alone.

You are absolutely are not alone. I have some family that doesn’t understand that my kids behavior is not something I can just wave a magic wand and fix. My family is very old school. I have one kid with anxiety and another with ODD and ADHD along with some other disorders. So I can relate. It is tough because on one hand you want your kids to know and associate with their extended family and on the other it is better to walk away and not subject them or you to those shenanigans. That is a tough one. Go with what you feel is right. You could try talking to them and explaining that it is just as hard for you as them seeing behavior issues. These kids can’t help it! Then maybe see if they would agree to spending time together in small doses. Just a thought…. It is a tough one but you will get thru it!

For us, living far away from family makes things easier. I’m sorry. It’s hard when people don’t get it. You do get it & are a more loving compassionate person because of your understanding. Shame on them. I pray you find other community (church? support group?) where you will feel more welcome & embraced just as you are. ❤️🙏🏻

You are definitely not alone! We suffer from the same heartbreak. I wish our extended and at times immediate family was more understanding and welcoming. Unfortunately, their judgement has created a rift which is probably best for us and the kids.

When we do larger gatherings we make it short and on terms that work for us ( the time of day, location.. factors that might affect our children’s behavior). Stay strong and do what’s best for you and your kids - always

Sending you a big hug

Oh mama😭 I hurt for you and your kids. We deal with this also. I'm a single mom of 2 boys and I used to try so hard to hold everything together because it was the right thing to do. The harder I tried to keep things open with my family members that did not understand the worse it felt and harder it got. At the end of the day not only do you have to do what's right for you but what feels right for your kids. Chances are they are picking up on the rejection feelings and tension as well. They might not know why it's happening but it can't feel good for them at all either. When you walk away feeling broken so do they...

I say this because my now 8 year old who has Autism and ADHD at a hardcore level sees things and you know he has no filters so he says them. I am often in awe how someone that moves around constantly like a hummingbird on quadrupole caffeine doses lol can pick up on so much without pausing for a moment but he does. We were driving home from a visit to his aunt's house and he was talking about Hotwheels and then slid this into the conversation "why doesn't auntie Jo like me mom?" And I didn't know how to answer so I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts (inside I was dying and trying not to cry because we'll f***, he should not have to face this feeling especially from family members) and before I could think of a response he then said "Why doesn't she let me come over and spend the night or play with the dog or hang out? She lets my cousin whenever she wants why not me? She leans away sometimes if I get close mommy and her face changes when I come to find you inside the house and she is where you are, it gets squinty like the orange face on our chart so I know she is not happy anymore. Does she hate me?"

I just about died. I pulled over got out and we sat on the side of the road and chatter. "It's not that they do or don't like us, it's just sometimes people don't know how to react to us. For example "you know how you jump when someone walks up behind you and you don't like it? Or when you're angry and someone touches you, you freak out? You are reacting to the situation not the actual person. Well sometimes when you come into a room loudly and quickly I think she gets scared you're gonna run her over or knock her down. She doesn't know you have a built in distance sensor and will stop millimeters short of her. Sometimes your loud makes her nervous and while her face looks mad I think it's more worried. I understand how you feel. I see it too sometimes and it is uncomfortable to me also. Jokes on her though because we have superpowers and she doesn't. Would you like me to talk to her about you going over or being invited or should I wait? I think you're the coolest kid on the planet and we want to grow strong and smart so I value your feedback" he asked me to wait to talk to her and I did but he also seemed to be happier to not go there anymore. So here is what kinda followed that convo...

I was already feeling it. The pressure to be there even though they treated us differently m even though I felt like they didn't under us/him. They treat his younger brother better but once he started showing some signs of things that put us towards seeking a diagnosis they changed how they treated him too. I hated being there it felt uncomfortable but I was trying to do what I thought "was the right thing to do". Last year while sucky and hard because let me tell you being a full time working single mom with two small boys on the spectrum whom I homeschool has been insanity. It was also so much if a blessing Covid removed the obligations associated with family events. Stepping back I realized how much better it felt not being around the family members that treated us so poorly. There are several she is just the example I felt the strongest. I have tried putting my toes tentatively in the water again and nothing had changed so gave decided to continue distancing ourselves.

It is now a choice for them. We talk about how we feel, how others feel and how people around us impact us and we go from there. So if there is the possibility that we are going somewhere where there are family members there that treat us like that then I lay it on the table like this. "Hey guys how do you feel about going to auntie XYZ's house. It seems like sometimes when we go there it can be a little difficult and you have mentioned before you did not like how that made you feel. If we went today and something uncomfortable happened are we having the kind of day where it would make our day feel really hard or make us feel bad or are we having the kind of day where if it happens we could let it roll off our backs? Remember we have superpowers that other people can't always see or often don't understand so it's important for us to decide how to be around people who might make us feel kinda strange inside."

More often then not they will say that they would brother stay home and play or go to the beach or something instead so we do. Every once in a while they choose to go and then we talk about what to do if XYZ happens or if someone says XYZ. I have found it has given us a lot more freedom to be ourselves and a lot less hurt that we aren't treated well when we are there.

Some family members have asked why we are virtually non existent at family events now and some have not even noticed it if they have don't care. To the ones that did ask I simply said "there have been several incidents in the past that have caused my children to have doubts about themselves and challenge GED their sense of self esteem and self worth. That is a feeling they will have to face for the rest of their lives from strangers and unkind people in the world they are going to grow up in. They do not need to experience it from family members the people who should be supporting them and building them up. So until we all feel comfortable being in the same space without having to try to feel like we are actively working to fit in or where we have to hide our true selves to belong we will stay away. We choose to create a safe space to be the happiest versions of ourselves anyone is welcomed but if they can not be in our space without compromising it then we no longer choose to keep the invitation open. My children can choose where they want to be and with whom they feel comfortable. If we aren't there it's based on a family decision with their informed consent. So please know that when we are absent it is a choice they have made based directly on how you have made them feel about themselves in the past. If you want them then you need to change how you view/treat them so they can choose to come back and feel welcomed instead of held at a distance".

Well let's say we know for sure now who wants us around and who does not and while it started for a bit it honestly was the best thing that could have happened to us. I hope you find the right spot for your family. You are not alone. You're stronger then most other humans (remember we have superpowers). You and your children deserve to be treated with kindness and respect NO MATTER WHAT! Be strong mommy you got this! Don't take no one's bull ever. The best thing I have learned is lead by example, I am teaching my kids to stand up for themselves actively starting from a young age by giving them the power to choose.

Sounds like you are doing an amazing job with a tough situation. I love your explanations and especially talking about things before they happen. It's great to have a plan in place so you and the kids aren't caught off guard.

That sounds like quite the struggle. I feel like I have been on both sides in the past. Often it is been with friends more than family. For me, it wasn't about ADHD but just young kids.

When my wife and I started having kids, we had a group of friends that were similar in age (some married, some not), but very few had kids. We still felt welcome and invited when they were infants. As they grew into toddlers that needed more attention, direction, supervision, the feeling of being welcome disappeared. It felt like we were more of a disturbance at gatherings. It made me very uncomfortable, and so I faded into the background. I would find a quiet corner and sit with my kids. Playing, reading books, basically just keeping them from bothering anyone. It felt like a chore. Going out to another house where I didn't interact with other people and just spent my time keeping my kids occupied constantly. I could be at home, getting things done, while my kids played without risk of annoying other people. I just didn't see the value of going. Then I started staying home with the kids, and sending my wife to gatherings. I think everyone was happier that way.

I live far from family, but if they were closer and the situation felt similar, I think I would have reacted the same way. I wouldn't visit often and I would make sure visits were short when they did happen. Family does come with obligations. However, there are usually ways to minimize the interactions. There is no need to put yourself or your kids through the stress.

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