For me, parenting is personal!
After struggling to feel effective in parenting a child with ADHD and being married to someone with ADHD, I decided to do something about it. What started as a quest to conquer my child's frustrating behaviors has turned into a system that has helped Moms and Dads confidently parent their kids and show up in their lives like never before.
How ADHD & I Became BFFs!
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Hi! Thanks for taking the time to have a little virtual introduction. I’m really glad you’re here.
The short version is that The O’Brien Method for a drama free ADHD life was born out of my frustration of NOT finding any straightforward, realistic easy to use solutions or strategies when it came to parenting a child with ADHD. I waded through thousands of pages of research on ADHD and child development and all it did was explain what was wrong or that I had to “fix” my child - which didn’t help at all.
So, I jumped into learning about ADHD by going to workshops and taking courses on the brain, ADHD, and other developmental differences as well as reading as much as I could about the brain and learning. I met with learning specialists, special education teachers, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists. This crash course on ADHD was perfectly timed because I was in love with a man who had ADHD and I was just starting my teaching career and had students with the diagnosis. After a couple of years - I felt like a rock star. All of my students were thriving, especially those with ADHD who had been “given up on” and ADHD was not dominating my relationship with my husband. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with ADHD and that I would dedicate my life to it.
And then we had a kid. I swear it was like someone threw a switch. All of a sudden everything we had so carefully built to make life run smoothly was thrown out the window. It became painfully clear that my darling husband could barely manage to take care of himself and manage his ADHD, never mind having another human completely dependent on him. I was exhausted, and suddenly I felt like a single mom with 2 kids to take care of. It felt like ADHD was ruining my life, and I had no idea what to do. In a fit of frustration, I yelled at my husband “This is your issue. Fix it!” Not my finest moment, I admit.
Truth be told, parenting was already proving to be harder than I thought, and I was already questioning my ability to be a good Mom - whatever that meant. Now, I found myself questioning my marriage.
Something had to change. I could walk away from it all - but that wasn’t really an option for me. Or, I could figure it out. This was scary because my whole life I’ve been a fixer, but suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t fix this. In fact, the harder I tried, the worse things got.
So my husband found a therapist to talk to, and after a couple of weeks he asked me to come to a session. Honestly, I was smug and ready to hear all the ways I was going to be vindicated. Boy was I wrong. I’ll never forget what she said; I was part of the problem. A really big part.
It was like being dunked in ice-cold water, and totally what I needed. My husband didn’t need to be fixed. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. We needed a lifestyle audit and a mindset shift. So we regrouped and took everything we knew about ADHD, communication, learning, our goals, wants and needs, and went back to the drawing board. Together, honestly and candidly, we threw out all the “shoulds” given to us from society, our parents, and anywhere else and figured out what we needed to make our life work. Our method was evolving in order to maintain a drama free ADHD life. And, it worked brilliantly. For the next few years, we were able to handle everything that came our way because we had created a system to keep ADHD out of the driver’s seat. Moved cross country, had another kid, changed jobs, became landlords, sold the house, bought a house… ya know - adulting.
But wait, there’s more. The summer before my son went to Kindergarten things went south. Every single time we asked him to do something, anything, he flipped out. And not the normal 5-year-old, I don’t want to do chores stuff.
Yelling, screaming, throwing things, and getting physical if we tried to force him. My husband and I were trying everything we could think of or that people told us about how to parent because we weren’t going to raise a bratty, entitled, child. Timeouts, reward charts, punishments, you name it... And, one afternoon, after asking him to do something and going through another round of tantrums, I sent him to his room - he was in a “time out.” After a few minutes, I went to check on him and was shocked when I opened the door. His entire room was trashed. All the bedding ripped off his bed. All the posters on his wall were torn off. All his drawers open and clothes on the floor. WTH?! I was gearing up for some serious parenting and doling out consequences. Until I saw his face. He was sitting in the middle of the floor, tears streaming down his cheeks. I remember having the fleeting thought of “good he should be crying”. Then he looked up at me and said “It’s okay if you don’t love me. I don’t deserve to live.”
I swear time stopped. I couldn’t believe it. At that moment, nothing else mattered. Absolutely nothing. The bedding, the decorations, the clothes. What he had done to get sent to his room. Nothing. I scooped him up and sat in a cushionless chair and held him so tight and kissed the tears from his cheeks and they started slipping down mine.
Time to regroup. I remember talking with my husband late that night asking questions like -- what in the world happened, how are we supposed to send him to school if this is how he responds at home, how are we going to help him, he’s already wondering if his life is worth it - what happens when he’s older, do we need to get him on medication… the questions came fast and furious. We are also both teachers and we have seen hundreds of kids, many with ADHD, so we knew what was in store for our guy in the coming years. And, in the dark parts of all of this, I wondered - had I done something wrong? Even though I knew ADHD was a neurobiological condition, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was somehow my fault. And I questioned whether I had the strength to “deal” with it. I mean I was super stressed. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was in cycles of guilt and shame which led me to try to compensate in other ways. I was ignoring my own health. I was going through the motions when it came to my relationship.
Again, I could give up or I could make a decision that it was time to do things differently. I knew with every fiber in my being that ADHD was not the problem and that our kiddo was young so we needed to parent for the long game. Once again, we had to figure out how to get ADHD out of the driver’s seat and raise this amazing child. So, while it was not my ‘fault’ I couldn’t help but remember the words from that therapist years ago - you are part of the problem - A big part. And, that’s when it became really really clear and our methodology upgraded again!
For the next 10 years, we have been perfecting The O’Brien Method and sharing it with our friends, coaching parents of students in my schools, and working independently with Moms who were just at their wit's end. And, I am so glad that I get to share it with you. We’ve taken thousands of hours of research, conferences, and workshops, all of the knowledge I’ve gained from completing two Masters Degrees in Education, teaching certifications, working with hundreds of kids and families, and hundreds of hours being trained as a facilitator in leadership development, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on mindset work and packed it into our approach.
First, all for me and now all for you.
Usually, at this point in the conversation, Moms ask me - well does it work? So, I’ll take just another minute and share that with you. First, as you get to know me, you’ll learn that I don’t continue to do things that don’t work when it comes to ADHD and my family. Second, it depends on what you mean. Conventionally, we’ve beat some of the odds.
We’ve been married for 17 years where some studies suggest that the divorce rate among couples managing ADHD is as twice as high as that of ”regular” people.
We’ve had a stable life with consistent employment. Own our home and cars.
Our son has performed well in school. Competes on teams, both athletic and e-sports.
And there's a lot of other stuff that goes into those things too.
But, for us, here’s why we say it works…
As a family, we enjoy spending time together. We travel well together. We enjoy exploring new places and my husband and son are open to new experiences. We enjoy simple things like family game night without drama.
My son is kind, makes friends, has passions and interests, and asks for help. He continues to perform well at school and continues to build independence as well as insight into what makes him tick. He’s becoming increasingly confident in advocating for himself.
And, let’s get real - I am calm. I am confident. I have a toolkit that gets me through every situation. I have rituals and routines that protect my sanity and my health. I sleep well at night. I don’t fight with my husband. I don’t fight with my kid. And so much more. And, it’s not just me. The moms I work with experience the same shift in their lives.
Alright, this video is already long enough. I’ll stop there. Thanks for listening. As you can see I am really passionate about helping Moms experience drama free ADHD. I hope you’ll reach out to schedule a time to talk so I can learn more about your journey with ADHD. It’s up to you - You can do what I did over the last couple of decades. Or, you can take the shortcut, eliminate at least a decade of frustration, and learn from me. Looking forward to talking with you soon.
Bye for now.