Parents of kids with ADHD deserve empathy, not judgement
On a recent trip to Walmart for some groceries, a harried mom was dealing with a tantrum. And a couple of strangers reacted in completely different ways. Taylor Myers, a mom who says her daughter often has ADHD-related bouts of frustrating behavior, took to her Facebook page to explain what happened. The circumstances of her daughter’s behavior showed the stark contrast between one stranger’s callous response, and another stranger’s much-needed empathy and understanding.
Myer explains that her daughter has ADHD, and so the typical tantrums of a four-year-old occasionally become something a little bit more intense. Her little girl gets so fixated on something she can’t calm down. Often, she is forced to leave in the middle of her shopping. But not this time.
“Almost every time, actually, I end up leaving with nothing I came for and a tantrum having four year [old] attached to my hand and a baby on my hip, but this time I had to stick it out to get the groceries.”
And she wasn’t about to give in, either.
“We stood in line for several minutes, me ignoring her whining and refusing to give in. What’s giving in to bad behavior going to do but reinforce the bad behavior?”
There she was in line, a thousand times more frustrated and inconvenienced by her daughter’s behavior than any bystander could possibly be, powering through so she could get home with her food. And then a stranger felt compelled to weigh in. And Myer snapped.
“…a woman behind me was in line saying ‘oh, for Christ’s sake give her a cookie so she’ll shut up!'”
“I could’ve responded in a nicer way. I could’ve explained to her that my four year old has pretty severe ADHD, I raise both my children alone, I’m doing my best, and had no choice but to wait it out for the groceries.
“Instead, I heard ‘she’s four years old and you need to mind your own f***ing business’ come out of my mouth.”
Myers says she was immediately embarrassed by her own behavior, and she knows how it looks. But she also knows that she doesn’t deserve to be judged.
“You never know what someone’s going through. You never know the problems a child has that causes them to misbehave and unless you know the struggle of being a parent to a child like mine, you cannot judge me.”
Thankfully, another stranger offered the compassion and empathy she needed, and spoke kindly to the little girl, allowing Taylor to finish up and get out of the store.
“As I scan my things, a woman walks up and begins to talk to Sophie. She asks her questions to distract her, but backs me up when Sophie begins to go on about wanting the chips…Honestly, this woman could’ve been the Antichrist and I would’ve had more appreciation for her kindness and compassion than I have for anyone else I’ve ever encountered.”
The two strangers Myer interacted with couldn’t possibly know that her daughter has ADHD, but that shouldn’t matter.
Every parent knows what it’s like to deal with a tantrum while shopping. The stress and shame is compounded by the fact that there are strangers around, and strangers who don’t simply ignore the situation tend to react in one of two ways: by passing judgment or by offering empathy. Taylor experienced both reactions, and the details she included in her Facebook should be more than enough to remind everyone why the empathetic response is always the right one.
ADHD tantrums are extra tough, because ADHD kids are even less able to regulate their emotions than your average child. Once a fit starts, it can be hard for them to get a handle on it and find a way to calm down. There are resources online that offer strategies to help, and Myer can tell you that passing judgment is not one of them.
“It only takes one comment to break someone down…But It also takes one small act of kindness to make a mama feel comfort and validation. Thank you to the woman in Walmart today, for showing that kindness to my children and I. Thank you for walking us out. Thank you for backing me up. Mamas have to stick together.”