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ADD: The Challenge for Parents and Siblings

The treatment of an ADD child begins in the healing home--not at school, not at the psychologist's or doctor's office. If a child's parents and other family members do not invest their time, effort, and love in his treatment, there is very little doctors or teachers can do.

A child's response to ADD treatment reflects the family's dynamics. That is not to say a family must be perfect and without conflicts. There are problems in all families, whether they are the Osbournes or the Osmonds. There are no perfect families, and each generation has its own challenges. Your parents raised their children in a different world from the one your child is growing up in. To a great degree, you have to rely on your own instincts and judgment in raising your children. And in the same manner, every family finds its own way to cope with a child with ADD.

Sadly, some families do fall apart because they lack needed guidance and support. The demands of a child with ADD can expose flaws in a family's structure or they can provide a foundation for building an even stronger one.

Certainly, the problems of a child with attention deficit disorder can transform a household into a battlefield. How the parents respond to the disorder and the disruptive behavior will have a strong influence on the attitudes and behaviors of other children in the family. Siblings may be sympathetic to a brother or sister with ADD, but the disruption can seem like a problem that will never go away. They may also experience jealousy over the extra attention their needier sibling receives, and be quick to note and respond when they are held to a stricter code of behavior. They may sense that all kinds of allowances will be made for the sibling who acts out in ways that would never be tolerated of them.

On the other hand, the child with ADD must deal with always being the sick one. No one wants to be labeled a problem child or otherwise socially isolated. We all prefer to be distinguished by our talents and strengths rather than our flaws and weaknesses.

The parents must also cope. New mothers and fathers often joke that they wish each child came with a set of instructions because no two children have the same personalities, needs, or capabilities. Children with ADD present unique and substantial challenges. Frustration and fear will dog parents who feel they have no clue--no prior knowledge, background, or personal experience--how to handle such a child. It's not like treating the measles or mumps. You can't recall what your own mother did for you and follow the same remedies.

For most of us, the first step in handling a child's behavioral problem is to search our own experiences. (If I had acted like that, I would have had extra chores for a week.) But for most parents, ADD is a mystery outside their realm of experience. Often they feel guilt and anger because they don't know how to help or control their child on their own. That guilt and anger can cause turmoil in even the most loving families, which is one of the reasons why the divorce rate for parents of children with ADD is three times that of the general population.

Taking Control of the Healing Process
ADD affects the whole family. Too often, the impact is more destructive than positive (this is a fact that cannot be denied), but that does not have to be your family's reality. The decision you have to make before you turn another page is whether you are going to control and guide the healing process for your child. Your dedication and determination are essential. Without them, the information and guidance I'll provide are useless. But if you are willing to take responsibility for your child's future success and happiness--and that of your entire family--this book will equip you to do that.

You may not feel that you are ready for this challenge, and that is understandable. We rarely feel adequately prepared for the biggest challenges in our lives. I am asking only that you accept responsibility and commit to taking positive action. You cannot take a pass and expect your child's teachers, doctors, or anyone else to step up. As the parent you must be fully engaged in the treatment process. When parents have been committed and dedicated, I've seen incredible results that last a lifetime, not only for the child with ADD but for the entire family.

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From The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now by Frank Lawlis, M.D. Copyright 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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