Are the signs of Adult ADHD part of your holiday celebrations?
Is one of your old family “recipes” a rich combination of chaos, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and crushing disappointment only the Grinch could love?
Rather than waiting to sweep up the emotional pieces after yet another holiday disaster, take the time now to rewrite the script for this year.
Visualize how your family gatherings have played out in the past. Be sure to include the predictable behaviors and responses from everyone.
Aim to sidestep some of the typical landmines, but with love, patience and understanding.
I think that one of the biggest complaints that I get from non-ADDr’s is how incredibly “selfish, egotistical or narcissistic” their ADD loved one’s behavior appears to be during the holidays.
This is Part One of two postings that will provide some insights and suggestions for reframing your thoughts with a new, clearly polished ADD/ADHD lens.
My spouse gives me little or no help in preparing to entertain (unless asked, and even that’s dicey).
Insight: Adult ADHD contributes to time blindness and disorganization. Planning ahead doesn’t appear on the horizon. They respond best to the here and now, and get easily distracted and forget what’s next.
- Together, create an action list (or lists). Pre party, during the party, post party.
- Break each action into tangible, easy to understand steps and when to do them.
- Put a name next to each action.
- Keep the “current” list visible during that part of the execution.
- Assume that you may need to nudge your ADHD partner a little (support, not nagging).
My partner acts like a guest in our own home waiting to be served and entertained.
Insight: They may not be strong at anticipating what’s next, and easily miss your subtle cues to clear off the table. Empathy is felt but not shown because of distraction/impulsivity/forgetfulness.
- Be ready to hand out little reminders of what’s next and who does it.
- Use a subtle approach.
- Don’t embarrass your loved one with sarcasm or a great show of sighing.
My sister-in-law dominates conversations with lots of “facts” and expertise that only she can provide.
Insight: A couple of things can be going on: 1) their low self-esteem drives them to dominate a subject because it helps them feel smarter and more “normal;” 2) they get caught up in hyperfocus and find it difficult to switch topics.
- Anticipate that this situation will come up.
- Be ready with your action list.
- Ask for their help with something in the kitchen as a means to helping your loved one unhook.
Remember your goals: a)help your ADD loved one feel accepted during this stressful time, and b) help stop the cycle of shame that they feel, c) minimize the breakage and d) enjoy the holiday season.
Part Two: interrupting, repetition , emotional outbursts and gift-giving.