10 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Life With ADHD

Lately, my 7-year-old has been asking me about ADHD. I’m glad, of course. It means she’s interested in my work and what I spend my free time writing about. It’s quite an honor actually, that my daughter would want to know more about something that is so important to me.

No one has suggested that either of my kids have ADHD. That doesn’t mean I don’t see traits in them. But those traits do not seem to be impairing them in a major way… so far. I count that as a blessing, and in turn, parent them to the best of my ability, aspiring to be someone who teaches them how to get the best out of themselves.

But if my kids were to be diagnosed, there are a few things I would want them to know about life with ADHD. I am certain that knowing these things could change their lives forever, and maybe yours too.


1. You are Not Your Diagnosis

Having ADHD means your brain is wired a bit different. Being diagnosed with ADHD is only an explanation of that wiring. It doesn’t explain who you are. You are so much more than a diagnosis. Let ADD be a part of you, but don’t ever think it is who you are.


2. It’s good to Be Different, but Normal to Want to Be the Same

Nobody wants to be different, least of all kids. When you’re young, fitting in can feel like the most important thing in the world. It’s not. You may not fully realize this until you are much, much older. One day, you will realize that being different can also be an advantage in life. It’s never too early to start celebrating your uniqueness. Learn to feel good about living in your own skin. This step alone will make all the difference.


3. Sometimes You Must Harness Your Energy, But You Should Never Squash It.

Yes, sometimes you do have to sit still and hold back your impulses. This is a good skill to learn, as hard as it may be. But that doesn’t mean you should hold back on your passion, energy or enthusiasm. Sit still when you have to, but don’t let anyone put out that spark of yours.


4. It’s Okay to Be Misunderstood

It sucks to feel as if no one gets you. But I get you, and your father gets you. And all the people in our family and our close friends who love you – they all get you. We love you for who you are – strengths and flaws, just the same. People might not always follow your train of thought, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have valid thoughts and interesting ideas. It just means that not everybody thinks the same way.


5. Being Normal Is Not the Same as Being Right

Being tidy, punctual, organized and stoic are nice characteristics to have. Spontaneity, courageousness, creativity and passion are also great characteristics to possess. There is no one right way to be. Some people have an easier time with certain things than you do, but that does not make them right. Be who you are and own it. It’s your life and no one can tell you how you should live it.


6. ADHD Isn’t All Bad

ADHD can make some things more difficult, but it’s not all bad. There are some real strengths to having your brain-wiring, strengths like creativity, enthusiasm and passion. One day, you will have more control over your life – how you spend your time and what you do. If you focus on doing the things that you are strong at and the things that you love to do, ADHD may become your biggest asset.


7. Push Yourself, Just A Little Bit Harder And A Little Bit Farther, Than You Think You Can Go

ADD will make you want to give up the moment things get uncomfortable. Just like you, there are many things in my life that I gave up on as soon as they started to feel too hard. Go a little bit further than you think you can go. You will surprise yourself. You are not a prisoner of your ADHD-brain. You are in charge of it, and can train it to work better for you. It’s like weight-lifting. You will only build brain-muscle by making your mind work harder than it wants to.


8. You Are Completely Okay As You Are

I love you no matter what. If your hair remains messy or you eat with your hands, if you forget your homework or leave finger prints on my clothes, if you don’t listen or lose my phone – I love you. We all make mistakes. You are good enough because you are you, not because of what you do.


9. I Try Harder than You’ll Ever Know

I want to be a better mom than I am. Sometimes, I make a big deal out of things because I am trying to prevent you from having the same struggles I’ve had in life. When I tell you off for doing things, it’s not usually because I am mad at you. It’s because I am mad at me, for not doing a better job of teaching you. This is something every parent does, ADHD or not. Know that when I don’t do a great job of being your parent, it’s only because I am human. Every day I try harder to do better than I did the day before.

Something else you need to know: I see how hard you are trying too.


10. Almost Nothing Is Quite as Important As You Think It Is

Everything in life passes. The good times are short, but so are the bad times. Enjoy the ups with the downs. Life is meant to be lived. Don’t spend your time trying not to feel something. Spend your life embracing whatever you feel in the moment, good or bad. Your feelings are what let you know you are truly alive.

I don’t care if you get good grades or ever have a good job. I don’t care if you win at a sport or never even attempt one. I don’t care if you get married, stay single or run away with the circus! Just enjoy your life and whatever it throws at you. The point of life is not the pursuit of happiness. The point of life is to simply live it.


These are the 10-most-important things I would want my kids to know about life with ADHD? What do you want your kids to know?

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7 comments on “10 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Life With ADHD

  1. Excellent article. I just posted it on my Facebook biz page with an note that people come check your blog out. I’m sending it to lots of groups, too. Nice stuff here. I’m happy to have stumbled across it. My FB page is Uniquely U, Inc. ADHD Coaching.

    1. Thanks for the promotion Carolyn, have “liked” your page as well. DO you have a website as well? Really appreciate you helping me “get the word out” and would love to return the favour!

  2. Dear Andrea,

    Thank you for your post. I appreciate the time, thought, effort and heart you put into it. I have inattentive ADD and was diagnosed in my 40’s. I have a son in his senior year of high school who I am estranged from. His father and I am separated and I am now in a different state. My son doesn’t speak to me. There is much of what you expess that I too would want my son to know. When ADD is being treated, I think it can actually be a gift. Untreated, as I am currently, it can be hell. Many of the people I have known with ADD in addition to their creativity also had a beautiful depth of sensitivity and a deep capacity for being loving and compassionate. I would want our children to know that and to embrace that. Thank you again for your post. Happy approaching Mother’s Day to you! It is the greatest gift on the planet and I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss my son. Namaste, Suzanne Troll

    1. SO SORRY to here about the distance between you and your son Suzanne. As I have entered my 40’s I have realised one thing about being a parent – our children won’t begin to understand us until they have developed a bit more of their own life experience and realize that we are only human too. When you say untreated, do you mean unmedicated? I think that ADD, whether medicated or not, can be both a blessing and hell all at the same time. SO many creative people I know, not even diagnosed with ADHD, have challenges that make their lives very difficult but those same traits are what make them – as you say – sensitive, loving, compassionate and creative. Its like you cannot have the yin without the yang. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with untreated ADHD. Feel free to email me any time if you’d like – perhaps some of the challenges you experience are topics I can explore in future posts.

  3. Beautiful post:). I would want my kids to know that I haven’t got this thing called ‘life’ all figured out either. That it’s ok to feel lost. It’s normal. That sometimes even the people that seem to know exactly what they want in life and are able to achieve it feel lost too. That you may never figure it all out, and that’s ok. But, try to enjoy the journey along the way.

    1. Love your point about feeling lost Rikki. We tend to think that people who are lost are ones who aren’t achieving what they want from life, but that lost feeling can happen to anyone, even those we typically see as successful. I think that lost feeling can actually serve as a very necessary rest stop or pivot point if you will – a chance to assess where we are and examine if we want to stay on the current trajectory we are taking.

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