Growing as a parent with ADHD children made me a lot more aware of their feelings when interacting with my kids and people in general. (Maybe my husband & mum not so, I know I fail quite badly as a wife & daughter. #assholewife #assholedaughter)
Recently Lucas reminded me of how important it is to pause, let the person express themselves and listen.
Imagine this scenario…
All three of us (myself, Lucas & Audrey) were ready in our pyjamas, upstairs fooling around, just chatting and playing with NaeNae. Audrey suddenly felt thirsty and asked if she could go down to get a cup of water. Lucas followed her. Suddenly…
“MUMMMMYYYY!!!! Can I go to RW’s house for a sleepover?” my girl shouted from downstairs.
It didn’t occur to me that my neighbour was actually right at my porch with her girl and wanted to know if Audrey could go over. I came down and within 5 minutes, packed her bag (forgot her toothbrush), exchanged numbers with my neighbour (yes, I’m an #assholeneighbour too) , hugged & kissed my girl and told her to have the best time.
Lucas on the other hand was just watching the whole scene and hugged Audrey as I was packing, and hugged her again as she was leaving. Watching him embracing her so tightly that I felt it wasn’t him to be this way.
and then…. he broke down.
My immediate thought? Aiya, this boy FOMO want to go sleepover also la must be. But somehow witnessing how he hugged her so tightly, I knew it was not just FOMO.
I let him cry. After all, it was only me & him that night, Lao Niang has all the time to spare. Once he’s calmed, he said…
“I’m very scared to let her go. I’m always with her to protect her but now that she’s going there alone, who is going to look out for her? who is going with her to the play ground and swimming pool, making sure that she’s ok all the time?”
That alone, made me superbly proud of him. For many reasons..
- It is not easy for a person with ADHD to be able to express why he’s upset this easily. It did take him a while but it’s the effort in expressing himself that counts.
- He indeed protects his little sister. He would hold her hand after they get down from my car at school drop off, just so that she doesn’t fall from walking down the stairs. He holds her hand as they cross the road to meet my mum at the opposite side after school. These little acts didn’t seem much when you are just looking at it but now that you think of it, it is his way of protecting his sister.
- That compassionate side of him has not faded as he grows older. The world truly can use a lot more compassion.
I hugged him and thanked him for being who he is. Prayers is the only thing we can do for now, to ask God to protect Audrey as she is heading over alone. We ended the night in prayer and hugging each other to sleep.
I admit that I’m not always this patient with my kids. Especially when they keep quiet and “diva stare” at me. I’m still very much an #assholemum.
But validating feelings is so important, yet hardly done. With this story of mine, taking time to validate Lucas’s feelings, brought us more peace & love as we ended the day.
- Allowing him to cry – knowing that he is disturbed by something. How many times as parents or you as a child been told “Not to cry” or asked “Why are you crying?????” or.. “CRY SUMMORE!! What’s wrong with you????” when you were merely expressing your sadness/discomfort/pain through tears? If we could just stop and let the tears flow, the situation would eventually calm and you will find out why.
- Giving him space & time to express himself without questioning him after he has done so. How many times have we brushed off others’ feelings when they were sharing how they felt? “Aiya.. Don’t think too much la” “Aiya.. you worry too much lor.” “Why you stress yourself up so unnecessarily??” Have we once paused and realized that these worries are valid?
- Being the one person that he can trust to share his feelings & thoughts with. I have to admit that I haven’t found that one person that I can truly pour my heart out without feeling judged. I do share a lot about my life openly but not necessarily exactly how I feel because how I exactly feel is not common and society doesn’t accept uncommon.
After that night, I became more aware of how I react towards my children. My daughter comes home crying because she nearly did something wrong. My daughter again crying because she called someone “stupid” and someone else told me that.
My eldest son reacts anxiously around his siblings because that’s the way he is. He hates making me upset, he doesn’t like that they don’t listen to me. In my recent attempt to bring all of them out on a “family thing” at the KL Bird Park, he shared with me how he feels about going to such places with us and why he enjoys it better with his friends. I recall now how I brushed his feelings aside and wished I was a better listener then.
My time alone with my eldest now is so precious because he feels safe and not anxious over little things when he’s with me. I need to consciously remind myself to validate his feelings when he tells me.
We learn from people of all ages. Regardless if they are our senior, same generation, younger generation, their life experience is always different. I truly wonder how significant it would help in the corporate world and the mental health of others, if we validated the feelings when people share how they feel about a situation or what they are currently experiencing in life.
My kids are my best teachers (although most of the time annoying. #assholemum) cos they slap me in the face (literally in bed), making me realize that I’m a work in progress, still learning to be less of an asshole (mother) and a better listener.