I’m not an “ADHD Mom.” Are you?

woman kissing cheek of girl wearing red and black polka dot top

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I hesitated in writing this post for two reasons. One: I don’t want to be a Judgy McJudgerson (we all have enough guilt when it comes to parenting) and two: I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, I thought about it for a few days and decided to go ahead.

Have you read or heard people say, “I’m an ADHD mom?” Or, “I’m an autism mom?” This makes me cringe. I feel we do a disservice to our children when we label their projected imperfections in our parenting style. Would you say, “I’m a cancer mom” or “I’m an epilepsy dad” when introducing yourself online or in person? Probably not.

Now, I can guess where the label comes from… social media allows us to form groups and communities which are mostly wonderful and helpful and inspirational. To gather our “tribes” sometimes we need to attach labels or attributes to ourselves so that we can draw on people going through similar challenges. For instance, there are groups about running marathons, trekking mountains, for movie buffs and abuse survivors… really, any challenge or accomplishment good, bad or neutral.

Im not an adhd mom are you

However, by introducing ourselves or labeling ourselves online as our child’s diagnosis or disability or syndrome, we run the risk of drawing attention to something that our child may not want people to know – especially as they grow up.

Now, if you yourself are challenged with autism or epilepsy or cancer and you want to shine a light on this issue, I say go for it. But, if it’s your kid who’s dealing with something, perhaps ask them if they’re old enough or consider a different label.

What do you think? Do you agree with me? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lisa

12 responses to “I’m not an “ADHD Mom.” Are you?

  1. Jennifer Douglas

    I struggle with this too! I’m a mum and I wear so many different hats to fulfill that role, but the one I most identify with is that I’m A’s mum, I’m N’s mum, and I’m L’s mum (and I don’t share their names online).

  2. Rebekah Murdoch

    Well said

    Sent from my iPhone Rebekah Murdoch 4165566119 http://www.theyoganest.ca

    >

  3. I think it’s complicated. I’ve become highly, sometimes overly aware, in recent years of things I post about my children online. Our family has an array of diagnoses and navigating the challenges occupies so much of my time that it’s difficult not to become overly tied to that as a large part of my identity. Still, I reject it. I’m not an ADHD mom. I’m a mom who loves her kids and who’s trying to do what’s best for them. I’m also a human, trying to exist in the world.

    While being a mom, knee-deep in the world of ADHD and sensory processing issues and dyslexia is a giant part of who I am at the moment, I don’t know that it’s what I want to be forever. I do think that raising children with these types of neurodifferences has a way of isolating parents, which IMO, is a big reason many latch on to labels like Autism-mom or ADHD-mom, etc. It’s a way to feel a part of a community while in the throws of parenting children who aren’t always the easiest to parent – no fault of their own, of course.

    So…while personally I choose to not label myself this way and find that I intentionally distance myself from these labels and “tribes”, I see that some very much benefit from the sense of community they feel. While I may opt out of the labels myself, I think for many it’s better than staying home in isolation.

    I’m not sure what I wrote even makes sense. My kids (ages 11 & 10) and I have a lot of discussions about labels. While I don’t want them to become overly tied to these labels, I absolutely feel that they need to understand that their brains work differently, but that they are worthy and okay and deserve to learn. While I don’t call myself an ADHD-mom, I want my children to understand that I’m proud of them and I never want them to be embarrassed by these terms. There are so many parents these days (at least where I live) who wear the labels of Autism-mom or ADHD-mom loud and proud, so it’s tricky as a mom who chooses not to identify that way. I can see how you run the risk of unintentionally making your child feel that you’re embarrassed or ashamed of his/her differences simply by rejecting these sorts of labels.

  4. This is such a tricky subject. On the one hand, we want to let our kids know that having any disability or different learning style is not something they should be ashamed of. On the other hand, our children are so much more than their abilities. I think it is important to address it and include your children in the discussion. But other than that, I think the decision is best left up to each individual parent and family.

  5. This is really interesting. I think we do want to be part of different tribes but we have to be careful that it doesn’t define us. We are all multifaceted, but when one aspect of our life takes over it can be hard to remember that.

  6. I agree – it’s important to honor our kids and respect their privacy. I do see the benefit of using the labels to find community. It’s how our brain organizes and makes sense of the information. It all just gets muddied online (or even in person) when people start making assumptions or sweeping generalizations.

  7. This is a very thought provoking article. I too am guilty of posting things with a label on my child and wonder whether I should have done that. I do it often times as an example to help other parents who have a child in the same situation. Definitely food for thought! Thanks!

  8. I am not a believer in labels for children. My son, who is now 29, has a pronounced visual processing issue, was completely color blind and ADHD. We worked very hard with him to both teach him to self advocate and help him develop skills to work around or with these issues. He is profoundly aware of his strengths and challenges. He is a father to a wonderful 3 year old and watches her closely for any sign of issues. At this stage I almost wish he wasn’t so aware. I guess labels help in finding support and resources but they can become too significant a part of a child’s identity.

  9. If you’re looking for a support group or talking with a private group, using a label is an effective means of communication and can help moms with these unique struggles connect faster. But using it in your profile description, public posts on social media, or as a bumper sticker has always seemed odd to me. I don’t know how to respond to it or what the socially acceptable thing to say is. Do I say I’m sorry? Do I tell you how awesome you are? I don’t know what to do with that information. It makes me uncomfortable. Also, I don’t know if this is just me, but when I see moms throwing out these labels in random discussions, I feel like a line has just been drawn between us. Like we have nothing in common because your child has such-and-such and mine don’t. I’d rather us just both be moms that have our own unique struggles. Otherwise, it seems to me, we end up in a comparison trap.

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