'Mom Guilt' and Childhood ADHD: Forgiving Myself

September 30, 2020 Sarah Sharp

Raising a child with mental illness usually comes with a healthy dose of "mom guilt," and raising a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is no exception. While a little "mom guilt" keeps me on my toes, sometimes it becomes debilitating, so I was relieved to find out that ADHD and "mom guilt" are co-occurring problems that many parents struggle with. I'm not alone, and neither are you.

What ADHD and 'Mom Guilt' Look Like for Me

While a smidge of "mom guilt" makes me want to do better for my kid, too much of it makes it hard to do my job of raising a child with ADHD. I'm too busy beating myself up or feeling overwhelmed, and then I can't do what I need to do for my son. It doesn't help that I struggle with my own mental illness, too, so there are some days I feel guilty about everything--taking time for myself, losing my patience, feeling too tired to be Supermom, and a host of other actions I imagine will ruin my child for life.

One thing I feel guilty about, in particular, is a mistake I made about three months into my pregnancy. That night, I drank a glass of wine that quickly turned into three, and I've always imagined my son's tiny brain was in the middle of growing that day. Did that somehow cause his ADHD? I can never know for sure if it was genetics or certain choices I made, so there's no point in berating myself over it. All I can do is try to be the best mother I know how to be today.

How I Cope with ADHD and 'Mom Guilt'

When it comes to raising a child with mental illness, I've begun to figure out what is and isn't my responsibility. It is my responsibility to learn everything I can about ADHD and try to implement what I learn. It isn't my responsibility to try to control every little thing my kid says and does, and then get angry with myself when I can't. I don't have to indulge in "mom guilt" over everything, only the things that are actually my fault. 

What about the things that are my fault? For instance, sometimes I yell at my kid for being hyperactive, not listening or being loud, behaviors I know are connected to his ADHD that he can't always help doing. Afterward, I feel terrible, as I should. What I've learned to do in this situation is to kneel down, look my small child in the eye, and say, "I'm sorry."

It's a very humbling experience, and, in the end, everyone learns something.

I'm raising a child with ADHD. That means there will be hard days and mistakes made, but I don't have to blame it on anyone, not even myself. I can choose to forgive myself and each day strive to do better for my happy little boy. I have to forgive myself not only for my sake but for his as well. 

Good luck on your own journey stopping mom guilt and giving yourself forgiveness. We'll talk again soon.

Tags: mom guilt

APA Reference
Sharp, S. (2020, September 30). 'Mom Guilt' and Childhood ADHD: Forgiving Myself, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from

Author: Sarah Sharp

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