10 Reasons Why I Hate Helping My ADHD Kid with Homework

by Laura Silverstein
Originally Published: 
Mother and her ADHD kid doing homework together

This is how the dictionary defines homework:

Homework /ˈhōmˌwərk/ noun

1. Schoolwork that a student is required to do at home. 2. Work or study done in preparation for a certain event or situation.

Here is my new and improved definition:

Homework /ˈhōmˌwərk/ noun

1. A medieval torture device used to tear families apart in the home. 2. The cause of parents’ instability, mood swings and excessive drinking. 3. A mass murderer of trees.

All joking aside, I get the reason for homework. Kids need to practice the new skills they’ve just acquired. I’m fine with that, except for the fact that I have a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and getting them to sit and do homework is almost unbearable. Even if I can get them to sit still for five minutes, they do anything but pay attention. Here are 10 reasons why I hate helping my ADHD kid with homework:

1. I have no patience. This is not my kid’s fault. This one is all on me. Unfortunately, my lack of patience and my kid’s inability to focus is a disastrous combination. I really try not to let my lack of patience show. However, in my head, I have turned into Dr. Evil. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve told them to zip it when they have gone off on a tangent. I’m also starting to wonder if they would work harder on homework if they thought I had sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

2. It ruins my over-inflated opinion of them. I don’t want to admit to myself that I didn’t produce exceptionally gifted children. Working on homework with them shows me that they’re normal kids who have trouble focusing long enough to learn new concepts. The sun doesn’t shine out their asses. They’re not the next Einstein—they’re struggling with subtraction and how not to poke themselves in the eye with a pencil.

3. They have no organizational skills. Almost every day, my child’s homework is either forgotten at school or important school papers are shoved haphazardly into the black hole that is their backpack. I constantly find assignments that weren’t turned in and weeks of “misplaced” progress reports. I try to make organization fun (is there such a thing?) and to emphasize its importance. Unfortunately, all I receive for my efforts is an uninterested glare and nightmares about my child’s future as a hoarder.

4. I don’t get the way they do it. This one, again, is all on me. The school systems have recently started using the common core principles. This system is way different compared to how I was taught. I start to help with a problem, and I am informed that I’m not solving it the way the teacher does. I say, “Okay, how does your teacher do it?” My child’s reply is, “I don’t know, but it’s not that way.” I’m surprised that my hand isn’t permanently glued to my forehead and that my eyes haven’t rolled completely out of my head and onto the floor.

5. They aren’t listening to you. My blood starts to boil when I am explaining how to solve a homework problem and my child’s eyes are on the ceiling. Everything I say goes in one ear and out the other. We constantly have to start problems all over. During homework time, my ADHD child turns into Dory, the blue Disney fish from Finding Nemo. I take deep breaths and remind myself to just keep swimming, just keep fucking swimming.

6. They want me to do it for them. My daughter and I go through the same routine every damn day. She gets a list of similar problems, and she has to solve the equations. We do one together. We go over the process thoroughly. I make sure to explain every step. I tell her to do the next problem. She shrieks, “But I don’t know how, Mom!” I reply. “You do the same steps, just with this problem.” “But I don’t know how! Just do the next one with me!” It’s like my help is crack, and she’s addicted. She keeps escaping from—figure it out yourself—rehab.

7. The whining and arguing. “But Mom, it’s too hard. I’ll never get it! It’s so boring! My life is horrible, just horrible!” She doesn’t believe me when I tell her she will get it, and it will be OK. To my knowledge, math homework has never killed anyone. Then she proceeds to tell me, that I’m just doing it wrong. She knows she has the right answer. Her confidence might impress me a little, if she wasn’t screaming, “Two plus two is five! Two plus two is five, Mom!”

8. I’m too busy. I know this is a horrible thing to say. I should always make time for my kids, right? The truth is, my kids do take up the majority of my time, but you see I have three of them. When it’s homework time, I’m trying to stop my 4-year-old from “helping” my 10-year-old by coloring all over her spelling page. I’m also cooking dinner, cleaning and trying to keep my 2-year-old from either dancing on the table or from escaping out the doggie door. I wonder where she gets her ADHD from.

10. They have way too much of it. My ADHD child is in elementary school, and they have about an hour and a half of homework every night. I don’t remember getting a lot of homework in elementary school. We would get a few things here and there, but it wasn’t much. The most we had to do was create a paper mâche volcano or present a poster about why one state county is the best. The time we spend on everyday homework is ridiculous. Instead of having fun as a family, we’re all in homework hell.

11. The battle to get them to do it and to do it the right way. By now, my ADHD child has learned that they need to do their homework. When I ask them to do it, they will sit down and do it. Five minutes later, they are in the basement dancing. When I ask about their homework, they say it is done. Unfortunately, when I don’t supervise, they proceed to guess and write nonsense on every single problem. I’m lucky that I haven’t found “I like bananas” as one of the answers. I get that they would rather being doing something else, and to be honest, so would I. There are some days when I ignore my kid’s ADHD struggle and educational shortcomings. I instead focus on the fact that they are ridiculously good looking. I hope they have a successful career in modeling. We’re currently working on our blue steel poses.

Helping my ADHD kid with homework is challenging, but I do it every school night. It sucks, and I mostly hate it. I feel like I’m living in my own personal version of Groundhog Day. We go through the same infuriating routine every day. My child does their best to not listen or pay attention, and I sit there clinching my fists, trying to be patient, trying to be a good parent. I make sure that they are using their brains to solve problems. It’s a battle, but luckily there is a reward in sight. There is a particular moment that I am waiting for every day, and it’s like heaven. I’m talking about when the lightbulb in their brain finally turns on.

Everything suddenly clicks and the homework is now easy. This, for me, makes all the crappy things I just listed worth it. I feel like I am Frodo, and I just dropped the ring into the fiery depths of Mordor. We did. We made it. The battle is over—well, at least until tomorrow.

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