I learned yesterday, my first cousin has a son who is also ADHD. I discovered this when I posted something on Facebook about it and she shared it with a comment. To be honest she may have mentioned it before, but I don’t remember. (still bad I know) It struck me that someone who I know and love could be sharing a similar life experience and I am completely unaware. Actually, we do not keep in touch by phone or see each other as much as we should. Our contact is primarily through Facebook, but I know she cares about me and I care about her. However, the thought crossed my mind, we could probably support each other a lot if we shared our experiences with each other. Living with a kid with differences it not always fun. It can be isolating at times. I know there are other parents out there dealing with this, but it is not something that comes up in casual conversation. When your kid is bouncing off the walls, saying he or she has ADHD sounds much more like an excuse than an explanation.
I find being around moms who have similar kids is almost relaxing. If your kid runs down the hall screaming for no apparent reason, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time, those moms understand. If your kid crawls under the table to get away from the overwhelming presence of the five humans in the room, fellow special moms do not react. If your kid talks so fast it seems to take an interpreter to understand what she says, they get that too. The problem is you cannot find these fellow “warrior moms” for ADHD kids too often. Unlike Autism or other developmental disorders ADHD is not obvious as a problem. To the average person it just looks like a child with no boundaries or discipline. It took me a while to see myself in the category of “warrior mom” per se. ( I stole that term. It is not mine.) I look at moms of kids with Autism, ODD, and other behavior and developmental problems and I think my world is not like theirs, so what am I complaining about? Then I joined a Facebook group of Warrior Moms from my college. The group has such an array of women dealing with so many different diagnosis with their kids, but I saw many of the problems and concerns I was dealing with, they were too. I saw that although my kids do not have problems to the same extent as some other kids they are enough and I need to acknowledge them and how it effects our family. ADHD is not a cop out disease it is real with real consequences.
So how does this relate to not talking more about it in the Black community? In many Black families talking about a problem causing poor behavior is simply not done. If you do say something is wrong someone has a response somewhere along the lines of you just need to discipline them more, to put it nicely. It is important for many Black people to get over this notion that we do not talk about something being “wrong” with our kids or accept its effects on behavior, particularly when it is regarding mental health. I know that statement is a clear stereotype and I am sticking to it. Not all Black people are silent clearly, you are reading this Blog, but too many of us are. We act like the world is going to explode if we tell people our kids are different. I think the culture within our community is such that we never think to step back and say do not call my kid bad. He is not bad. He is different. (BTW I have a personal issue with calling a kid bad anyway, but that is totally off topic.) He or she is high energy. They think fast. Why does the description of my kid have to be negative? I find when other moms, particularly Black moms, realize how open I am they start talking too, but it always feels like some secret society meeting at first. Many moms whisper my son or daughter has ADHD too. Thinking about it makes me want to say they have ADHD they are not serial killers. I am not saying I yell it from the rafters, but let’s just say if you know my kids the realization is not shocking.
So what is my solution? I don’t have one. As far my cousin, I am sending her this Blog and a few others I have done. If she wants to touch base and share experiences great. If not I am good with that too, but at least she will know she is not alone in this journey.
Black ADHD Mom