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ADHD, Guilt, and Self-Esteem
Q: We just found out that my fifteen-year-old has ADD and he was started on Ritalin yesterday. Besides feeling guilty for not seeing the signs long ago, I also have to deal with the guilt my husband lays on my son for not trying harder in school. My son feels bad about his poor grades and is hurt by the things his dad says to him. I feel for both of them, because I can see how much they are frustrated. I'm going crazy. My husband leaves me to deal with the "school thing" as he refers to it, and when he sees the results I feel like a failure myself. Any advice?
A: Recognizing and seeking help for your child are two major steps you've already taken to show your support of him. Many parents with children with ADHD have had the same difficult experiences you have had.
The group Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) has nationwide branches where parents can go to share resources and experiences and find comfort in knowing that they are not alone. Call their toll-free number 1-800-233-4050 or visit their website at http://www.chadd.org. It would be great if you could get your husband to come with you to a meeting, but if he's reluctant you might want to buy or borrow a videotape about ADHD to watch together. Two good ones are Sam and Michael Goldstein's Why Won't My Child Pay Attention? and Thomas Phelan's All About Attention Deficit Disorders. How to Help Your Child Succeed in School: Strategies and Guidance for Parents of Children with ADHD and/or Learning Disabilities is a video by Sandra Rief that is geared to school strategies. An excellent resource for materials about ADHD is A.D.D. Warehouse (1-800-233-9273) at http://ww.addwarehouse.com. FamilyEducation.com also has great information about ADHD, including materials on medications, behavior modification techniques, organization, homework, and special education.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.