When a Mom's need for support gets in the way of her son getting help - ADHD Dude - Ryan Wexelblatt


When a Mom's need for support gets in their way of her son getting help.

Several years ago when I met one of the families whose son would be attending Summer Trip Camp that summer the mother shared a story with me regarding a meeting she and her son had with her son's therapist, whom she stated was an "ADHD specialist", according to the therapist.
Here was the story: 11 year old "Doug" had lied about something at home. Nothing major, just the type of lie that kids with ADHD lie about. His therapist spent a session trying to get Doug to admit he lied. "She said to him firmly, Doug you have to tell the truth." Doug's mother explained to me. "She got him to the point he was crying."
As Doug's mother explained this to me I thought to myself, This therapist thinks that shaming an 11 year old into admitting he lied is going to help him improve his behavior?
What struck me the most was that I don't think the therapist's approach to shaming Doug to the point of crying bothered Doug's mother. I asked her how she chose this therapist, she explained that the therapist is also the mother of a son with ADHD.
What this looked like to me is that this therapist was projecting her own "stuff" about her son onto Doug and treating him as she would have treated her son in this situation.
After the camp season ended I had a follow up conversation with Doug's mother. Having just spent a few weeks with Doug I felt that I was in a better position to be forthcoming regarding my professional opinion about this story she shared with me. I let her know that Doug's therapist's approach didn't sit well with as I didn't believe that trying to shame Doug into admitting he lied was the best approach to help him move towards becoming a young man with integrity.
"I absolutely understand where you're coming from, she's a sounding board for me as well." Doug's mother replied. I believe that Doug's mother's natural inclination to identify with this therapist as a Mom talking to another Mom clouded her judgment about what was best for Doug in this situation.
I have seen scenarios like this many times throughout my career. I want to clarify that this has nothing to do with gender. Rather it has to do with the comfort it provides a parent, possibly at the expense of what is best for their son. I have had Moms tell me that they have had their son work with the the same therapist for years, not because it was still helpful to their son but because it was therapeutic for them.
I believe that most parents of kids with challenges can benefit from their own therapy. I can tell you I would never have been able to parent my extremely challenging son as a single father without the support of a few good therapists over the years, all of whom were women. I was also cognizant of the fact that what I needed was different than what my son needed.
You deserve to take care of yourself. Go to therapy if you think it would be helpful and keep in mind that because you can benefit from therapy does not necessarily mean that your son will as well.
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