Learning to love yourself is one of life’s toughest challenges, which is unfortunate because it affects so many other facets of the life we end up living.
No matter how many times our esteemed leader at ‘Bad Parent Group’ raps my knuckles for nagging Kurt about his behavior – because as she says, “that tactic hasn’t worked well for you so far, has it?” – I just can’t help myself.
Not because I particularly like the sound of my own voice or even because I like to wield the limited parental power I have left in my weapons arsenal over my son; but because I love him so much.
You see, somewhere in the folds of the ageing grey matter in my brain, there is this deep-seated, irrational hope that one day… ONE DAY… he may actually listen to me.
“You must really hate me,” he accused me at 7am the other morning as we fought over absolutely nothing of any relevance, once again. “No,”I replied, “I really love you, which is why I want you to stop taking stupid risks and try to love yourself a bit more.”
If I was allowed to, or if I believed for one moment that it would make a difference, I would shake my son physically into submission; I love him so much. I want to control him like I used to be able to control him when he was a small child. I accepted a long time ago that he may not turn into the son we thought we’d have – which is fine, because the older I get, the more I despise conformity and predictability anyway – and for the most part I embrace his quirks and foibles.
(They’ve certainly provided me with a lot of content for this blog).
But the silly, impulsive decisions he makes, because he doesn’t love himself enough, still hurt like a bitch.
There is nothing worse than watching someone you love self-destruct.
It’s like when you try to appeal to a person in depression, in a naive effort to bring them out of it. Yet YOU can’t change anything, because the change has to come from within them, or via therapy or medication.
Poor self-esteem is a symptom of ADHD. Children with ADHD struggle from the moment they enter the world, in social, sensory and learning environments. They become the class clown at school to deflect attention away from their learning and concentration issues, they self-abuse as teenagers to ‘feel’, and they self-medicate as adults to dull the pain of a life-time spent being misunderstood.
Trying to fit into a society that exerts impossible demands on their particular skill-base is hard for people with ADHD; learning to love themselves for who they are in a world that is intolerant to difference, is even harder.
The statistics for teens with ADHD speak for themselves:
- 35% eventually drop out of school.
- 45% have been suspended.
- 30% have failed or had to repeat a year of school.
- And they are between 5 and 10 times more likely to become drug and alcohol abusers
Faced with a future like that, would you love yourself?
Yet it is Kurt’s very vulnerability that makes me love him even more as a parent. Like seeing a bird with a broken wing, it is an inherent need within me to want to mend him. Sometimes, I feel as though I’m the only one who really knows him and has the power to save him. Which is exactly why it’s so painful to contemplate his entrance into the real world, where I know his behavior won’t be tolerated.
I understand now that I can’t save him. That will-to-live has to come from him.
But, say I still had some vestige of power left. How can I make him love himself when all he has heard for most of his short life is what a loser he is?
Because… how do you ever learn to love others if you can’t even love yourself?