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What do you wish your parents had done differently?


Well-Known Member
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I was hoping to not to have to stick my kids with a label, but long story short, we are now at a point where we are forced to take my youngest in for an assessment. I fully expect him to "pass" ADHD at least.

Those of you who grew up knowing you were ADHD/autistic, what do you wish your parents would have done differently?
I wish they would have encouraged me to talk about my feelings. Different generation I guess ..

Oh I didn't know I was autistic although my parents and school had suspicions but didn't tell me
Treated me like they did my brother, like l mattered. His ND was accepted because he was a boy. I was just considered weird, flaky, etc.
I never was outright told. But I know I was suspected to be on the spectrum in some way. But for me it was the thought of "Great. I'm mentally disabled." A bad mindset to have, obviously.

But what would of wished my parents did, if I was outright told? Alot, truthfully. More mindful of me as a person. Help me understand alot of life better. Help me with communication. Help me grasp my own condition. I could go on.
I never was outright told. But I know I was suspected to be on the spectrum in some way. But for me it was the thought of "Great. I'm mentally disabled." A bad mindset to have, obviously.

But what would of wished my parents did, if I was outright told? Alot, truthfully. More mindful of me as a person. Help me understand alot of life better. Help me with communication. Help me grasp my own condition. I could go on.
If you can, please go on.

I've made many mistakes, but I do want to be the best possible parent.
Encouraging me to get medication. My parents told me they regret not getting medicine earlier. They’ve seen how much it has helped me. My parents didn’t know how I would react to medication and if I would suffer bad side effects. My mom said she was scared and didn’t want to pressure me. I’m glad I was able to make the decision as an adult.
If you can, please go on.

I've made many mistakes, but I do want to be the best possible parent.

Well. I could keep listing things. But the most important thing, without question, is to know I was loved and cared for. Words alone mean nothing. Especailly in the case of someone in my position, questioning why thier orginal mother left them at the age of 1 & half years old or at whatever age.

Everything else is secondary. Medical, school, activities, clothes, food, a house. As important as they are, as obligations and in survival. If there is no love. There is nothing the child will learn that is truly positive. There is no real safety. It's just a prison then. And that child is a inmate til 18 years old.

Though depending on the psychological damage. That child could be a prisoner well into adulthood, in thier own head.

I know. Preaching love and care sounds like a no brainer. But it's SOOO important on so many levels. Kids are going to be impressionative. They will be looking to thier parents for guidance both verbally and through non-verbal body language. How you, as a parent, handle life situations, people, and so many other things. Beyond giving them positive reinforcement.

What about attention? Yeah. A child needs plenty of it. But love holds a slightly larger bearing, than even that. There is such a thing as bad/negative attention. Typically because a child does something wrong. If they only get attention in those moments. They will act out more, thinking it's the only way to get it. Because they feel you don't care enough, otherwise.

This is all from the top of my head. Though, it's from experience dealing with less than favorable parents in the long run. Not that I actively tried to get in trouble for attention, personally. I just did dumb stuff that got me in trouble alot, even though I tried to avoid it.
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If wishes were fishes we'd all have gout from eating too much seafood.

My parents being how they were played a big role in me turning out as I did, and I like who I am. I didn't appreciate my father using that as an excuse when I fronted him about a few issues though. :(

I mention this a lot, but it's probably the most important bit of advice my grandfather ever gave me:

Don't go dreaming in the realms of What If. You can get lost in there. Play with the cards you've been dealt.

[Edit] Sorry @jsilver256 I know you're actually after advice. My parents were pretty good in a lot of ways, they were dutiful parents if not terribly loving. But there was no relationship where we could trust or ever discuss problems, in that regard we pretty much just had to fumble around and find our own answers to problems. My father was a control freak and an emotional bully, my sister and I were both too strong willed to play his games and living under his roof wasn't always a lot of fun.

I did have my grandfather until I was 11, I can tell you what he did that was right. He knew I was a bit different but it didn't bother him at all, he liked me. He always listened and he never raised his voice, he was just so easy to get along with.
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I wish they would have been more understanding...they had no concept of me or how I was feeling.

It no longer matters...forever forward. :)
Having seen how far our understanding about the complexities of ASD and other divergences has come in the last thirty years, I'm going to be a red herring and not be too judgemental on my mom.

She raised three of us on her own, two known divergent (my brother ADHD, and myself, AuADHD). My entire family is divergent (mostly ADHD undiagnosed, but the hallmark traits in spades we considered normal).

When I was medicated as a kid as per the school's request she knew something was very wrong with my reaction to the medication. Effective dosage in a weedy little four year old was high enough to stroke out a professional linebacker.

She and my grandparents put a foot down and said no way we're poisoning a kid just to make her 'normal'. Motion (a balance ball) and music (usually the same three songs) worked better without the crippling effect of the medication.

We were given reasonable boundaries and clear expectations. There was no substance abuse, squalor, or neglect. We got to do things and if we didn't like them, it wasn't a battle when we quit. We had an enormous amount of freedom to roam the neighborhood, parks, and nature areas around our house. Very much middle class America.

We had pets and chores and routines. Food wasn't a battle. Sports weren't required, but I still swam competitively through middle and high school. I would get in trouble most often for reading instead of doing my algebra (which to this day I still haven't found a use for).

Coming from a place of a fairly comfortable/privileged upbringing, I can honestly say I know my mom did the best with the tools and knowledge she had. I have a godawful older sister who would paint it differently because it wasn't always about her, but then again she is a sociopath.

I had enough tools and support that I've been able to function pretty reasonably as an adult. One of those oft overlooked and under appreciated skills, self sufficiency. (Things like being able to ride a bike or walk to a friend's house, getting to school, basic food prep when school was out for the summer, not having to be chronically entertained by someone/something, you wanted something, you went out and worked for it, etc...).

Our pasts have an impact on who we are in the present. I was raised by a decent human being to be a decent human being. My mom isn't perfect in any stretch of the imagination, neither am I, but I also have a working context as to why she struggles with certain things like half finished projects and doom piles. Her ADHD is as much a part of her as my combo platter is of me.

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. I had a pretty good set of circumstances, and while there certainly were challenges, I'm a more rounded human for having been through them.

I cannot honestly say, I wish my mom had done A instead Q because I'm okay with who I am as a human.

I didn't know about my ASD until I was in college, but I also understand why my mom and psychiatrist went with just the ADHD label instead of the autism one. Small town middle America, rife with stereotypes and stigmata. It was their way of trying to shield me so I could grow up as 'normal' as possible.

Family dynamics are complicated and it isn't just our parents who impact who we are.

I absolutely hate confrontation, not because of my mom, but because of the fights my dad would start. (They divorced when I was three, much better for everyone involved.) And my older sister. Breath wrong and she would pinch or scratch you, she also would do it where others couldn't see it (hidden by clothing). She would also deliberately destroy anything you held of value and felt like she deserved.

She's the reason I learned early on anger usually meant pain. She got mad or upset, you were the target.

It is also the reason I take a step back if at all possible when I'm upset. It gives me the space to articulate, 'Hey, I'm upset/frustrated about E, I'm not actually mad at you. It's the situation, not you.'
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Other than being disappointed one Christmas because I didn't get the toy aircraft carrier I wanted really badly, I can't think of anything. ;)

They were loving, patient, let me follow my interests but also strict about me doing my part contributing to the family (chores, helping Dad do house repairs) and learning to work early. By 15 I was unofficially working as my Dad's maintenance helper at his second job at a factory on weekends and holidays. At 16 I was on the payroll. So I had a secure and happy home where I could be my weird self but was pushed to learn responsibilities/life lessons as well. A good balance for me that stood me in good stead later on.
My parents had the best intentions and tried to protect me from every hardship they could imagine. They did things for me or re-did things that I'd already done and told me I did a great job. They offered constant praise for being smart/intelligent or other attributes that I did not earn. They have treated me like a small child for my entire 43 years.

The problem with this behavior is that it taught me to be helpless and ingrained a feeling of incapability that persists to this day. I attached my worth to innate qualities and the ability to please others rather than working hard or achieving things imperfectly and overcoming challenges. They taught me that my way was wrong.

But, they were loving and despite all of this ^, we have a strong enough relationship to try to work on changing these unhealthy ways of interacting. With help from others (people here, my therapist, mentors along the way), I am learning to undo some of the harmful patterns that I developed in response to the way I was raised.

This doesn't address the question of a diagnosis and labels, but it is offered in relation to the challenges that an autistic youngster may encounter and the importance of helping build their skills to overcome hardship rather than trying to remove hardship from their lives all together.

I know you asked about those who knew growing up. But that would give you a biased sample :)

I think that I'd been better off knowing. Maybe knowing but not feeling disable. Just knowing that certain things are not easy and I need to make an effort, and perhaps having people who could help me.

I was very hard on myself for not being "better" but I didn't know it was not a question of character or will.

So if my parents could have done that, that would be great. Problem is, my mother didn't know either, so there is that.
What do you call a bloke that yells and screams at a 5 year old and tells him he wishes he never had kids?
A mother who is pissed off at the father for going fishing with his friends just before the 4th of July Independence Day parade. She puts us 4 kids in the back seat of the car to go to the parade, pissed as Hell, puts the car in reverse, out the driveway, puts her arm on the back of the seat to see where she is driving, looks at us 4 kids and screams at all of us, "Don't you ever have children, they ruin your life!!!" Well, that was burned into my brain. Took me 8 years of marriage before I was "ready" to have children.

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