How can I help my daughter

Hi all,

I’m 37 and was diagnosed with ADD when I was 16. It has made my life a mess for as long as I can remember. I was on medication for a while, but this was no success due to the side effects and my environment’s reaction to it. I’ve been down the road of failure and disappointment forever. Procrastination and disorganization are my main problems, for example I only got my driving license by the age of 36, an extreme matter of procrastination.
I married a “normal” girl, who’s very intelligent. We got this beautiful daughter who’s 9 years old now. She turned out to be very active and intelligent, started reading at the age of 3. Before we knew it, she was 3 years ahead of her classmates. We decided to start homeschooling her (my wife teaches her, not me) because school was way to slow for her. This worked very well for a few years.
Suddenly last year problems started to occur, it became so much harder to get schoolwork done. My wife and daughter got into conflicts on a daily bases and things got out of hand real quick.
By now the situation is terrible. My daughter refuses to do any homeschooling and doesn’t want to go to a regular school either. We are constantly fighting and most of the time each one of us is in a different room, blaming the other. Apart from schooling issues she has all the signs of ADHD.

To me the problem is crystal clear by now, my daughter has ADHD. I’ve seen enough of her behavior to know her problem. I have ADD and my younger brother has ADHD, so does my mom. I so wished she wouldn’t have to face this problem, but I can’t deny it anymore.

The biggest problem is my wife’s reaction. All she want’s is a “normal” kid with “normal” behavior. She doesn’t want any form of therapy, medication, shrinks… No matter how, I can’t convince her. She’d rather have a divorce and never ever see me and our daughter again than having to admit she has ADHD and tell her parents and the rest of the world.
I don’t want a divorce, I love my wife and I know I can’t give my daughter a decent life on my own. I can hardly take care of myself. I don’t want my daughter and wife never to see each other again, it would be the biggest mistake of their life.
I’ve managed to keep my job for 17 years now, I know it’s the best job for me and they pay very good. But the hours are almost impossible to combine with being a single dad. After 10 years of supporting my family with my single income I don’t have the financial security to leave and look for a different job. Besides, I don’t know what I should do, my job now is the only thing I’m good at. I don’t expect much help from my environment either, because I screwed up a lot in the past…
I know things can get better at home, but then we have to face the facts and deal with the ADHD. I really don’t know what to do anymore. I’m struggling to keep my family and my life together and feel so bad for all the s**t my daughter and my wife have to go thru. I want to support my daughter in this life long battle, but I’m standing with my back against the wall. We’ve hit rock bottom long ago, but it feels I’m the only one who’s willing to get back up again.

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Sounds to me like your wife has a serious problem, and suffers from ADHDMIS - ADHD Mis-Information Syndrome…

She obviously has a completely thwarted image of what ADHD is, what it does, what it means for your lovely daughter, and what to do about it. I’m wondering whether she (or you) are aware of the very strong genetic component to ADHD (I mean, your brother and mother both have it, so kind of obvious), and she may somehow be blaming herself for what is ‘wrong’ with her daughter…

Presumably you were medicated decades ago? If I may be so rude as to ask: what medications have you tried? Because several exist now, and in formulations that may suit you far better than in the past. (Personally, I was put on Ritalin for 4 days, then my mom refused to give it to me, the tics from my Tourette’s got so bad. Now, Ritalin in the form of Concerta helps quite a bit.) I wonder whether, if your wife saw improvement in you, if you found the right treatment (right medication, dose, therapy, cognitive therapy, counselling, etc.), maybe she would be more open to how it could help your daughter too, and see that it’s quite safe.

As for her fear that everyone around her will judge her for having a ‘bad’ daughter with something ‘wrong’ with her? That’s her problem, not yours or your daughter’s. That’s her own insecurity eating away at her, I suspect. Either blaming herself for the ‘wrongness’, or afraid of others’ judgement of her as ‘not a good enough mother’. That’s a far trickier problem to deal with… I wonder why she threatened divorce over doing what is right for your daughter… Is she even opposed to having your daughter diagnosed at all? Or does she think she can beat the ‘illness’ out of her? Because that doesn’t work, trust me.

There’s an issue, you take it to the doctor, natural, right? Why is she so afraid of the doctors?

And about your daughter, you mentioned that getting homework done has gotten WAY harder… Is it that she doesn’t LIKE doing it, or that she can’t get started? Or is she getting distracted by all sorts of other things? I hope we can find a way to help her…

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First let me tell you welcome to the tribe fellow brain and I’m sorry to hear what your going thru at the moment. So @Marodir is right about the strong genetic component of adhd, it doesn’t mean you daughter isn’t “normal” but just needs a few adjustments to help get her thru the homeschooling. There is plenty of resources online to help you make changes and help you daughter succeed in school. Sorry I wasn’t a lot of help, I just don’t have any kids and have only done research on adult issues for myself.

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I’ve been on Ritalin. I have considered taking meds again, but I’m still not sure. I’ve seen my fair share of therapists and doctors. I don’t feel like seeing them again, having to visit one is very confronting to me. Where I live ADHD meds are only refunded until the age of 18, afterwards you have to pay the full price. So this would put more financial pressure on me.
My wife is highly educated and even had classes of psychiatry. We’re both aware of the genetic factor. She just refuses to accept the problem.
At the moment our daughter can be busy working for school and suddenly somethings off and she completely loses it. Get’s aggressive, refuses to proceed her work, she gives us hell. All we can do is put her in her room, otherwise she rips the house apart, literally. She can be in her room for several days until she’s suddenly “back”. You can try and wake her up in the morning and one look in her eyes is enough to know how the day is gonna be. Often she’s “gone”, and it’s very hard to get her “back”. I always try to connect with her, hug her and talk to her, let her know I’m there for her. But this comes at a risk of physical injury, when she’s angry she beats us and kicks us, bites us… This is especially very hard because she’s actually a really nice girl who really cares about others.
This is very hard for my wife, she gave up everything to homeschool our daughter and puts in an enormous effort. When our daughter is “back” she can really work hard for school and life is fantastic, until the next thing that goes wrong…
For me the whole situation is very confronting. It’s very similar to my own childhood. I know I was hell to live with.

Today is a good day, my daughter is working for (home)school. She enjoys it, we spent all morning together in the living room. It’s lovely when it goes like this. But we are anxiously awaiting the next conflict…

Hmmm… To me that sounds like extreme emotional dysphoria or bipolar disorder… But yeah, being moody could easily be her hormones, combined with ADHD and emotional dysphoria. That combination could manifest like what you’re describing, I suppose. Either way, I would personally recommend she see a professional, also because it might be hard to talk about her ‘gone’ feelings with you guys…

And where do you live, where you only get discounted prices until 18…?! That makes no sense…! Sounds a bit like what I hear from Australia, where apparently if you’re diagnosed before 18, you get discounted medication, diagnosed after 18, full price…! Do politicians not understand that people need the medicine regardless of age…?:open_mouth::cold_sweat: So stupid…

But yeah, from what you describe, your daughter needs help. Wish your wife wasn’t so dismissing/hostile towards the idea of seeing a professional… I wonder what it is that makes her so bothered by the idea…:thinking:

Hi Swimdad!

Hang in there, buddy!

I can relate to the job situation. I lost my well-paying Graphic Design job after 11 years, and spent some time unemployed, then underemployed. I’m not sure exactly what you do for a living, but do look for opportunities to educate yourself, and consider looking for something better. Don’t limit yourself. It does take some ‘looking to the future’, which is uncomfortable for us in the ‘Tribe,’ but you can do this.

You can change this. You can change yourself. I know you have an obstinate streak, it comes with the diagnosis. Do not stay down; you can do this!

As for your daughter, I have a friend at work whose daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. When I first heard the term, I was skeptical, but it is a thing. A hard thing. Since I AM NOT A DOCTOR, I can’t give a diagnosis. But I would advise you to look into it. I listened to a Russell Barkley talk about ADHD and ODD, and he gave some solid but jarring information. I remember he said that consistent parenting was crucial, particularly before the pre-teen years.

But no matter what you hear, what you read or how you feel, know that you endure this, and even thrive in this. My faith was a very important part of my life improvements, so if you have faith, pray. Believe. Foremost, believe in yourself, your daughter and your wife.

Is this something she has actually said to you or your daughter or is this more inference based on how she is acting?

I will say, it sounds like your spouse is going through the stages of grief having realized that her child most likely has a disorder. While not great, it isn’t unheard of for a parent to mourn the child they could have had if everything had turned out differently.

That being said, there is a difference between grieving for what could have been and emotional abuse. If your spouse crosses the line and starts taking out her frustration on your daughter by tearing her down or telling her she isn’t wanted, you will have a different problem on your hands.

My spouse told me from day one that if I ever raised a hand against her or our children, she would leave and take the kids with her. I think it is safe to say that promise should include emotional or verbal abuse as well.

I want things to work out for your family, for things to mend and be whole once again. But you are dropping some strong hints that there is more going on that is far more damaging.

If your spouse has already crossed the line from grieving mother to abuser, you will need to consider whether it is worth the damage living in such a household will cause on your daughter. It is bad enough that your spouse has (according to your description) prioritized her pride over your daughter’s wellbeing.

I know you married your wife because you love her. Don’t let those feelings give her a free pass should the worst come true.

You owe it to your daughter to be her advocate and defender.

I hope that didn’t come across too… lecture-ish. Just a very dark topic that I didn’t feel like running around the bush.

Out of curiosity, does your parents-in-law know YOU have ADHD…? Why is she so afraid to tell them…? Is there such a heavy stigma around mental health in your country? Or just her and a traditional family?

@Marodir makes a very good point that your daughter’s teenage hormones could be contributing to her problems, which definitely means you need a professional.

Here is my two cents as a social worker: Your wife is highly educated and gave up everything to make schooling your daughter her profession. She even has some psychiatry classes under her belt, so she feels like she should be able to do what needs to be done for your daughter. Why don’t you suggest something that she doesn’t have training in: family therapy? You all go to a therapist to discuss what is going on with your daughter and the impact it has on your family. Tell your wife that you don’t want a divorce and that is why you want to talk to someone to help you get through it. The therapist will see the difficulty your daughter is having and recommend testing and maybe a doctor for your daughter. An outsider seeing the problems your daughter is having and telling your family as a whole that she needs outside help could be what is needed for your wife to agree to it.


Thanks for all the support. Sorry if my English is bad, I’m not native English speaking.

The last 10 days or so have been better. With ups and downs. When everything goes well, we’re a very happy family. We are a family of intense emotions, “high peaks, deep valleys”. We did have some “minor” hick ups over the last week, my daughter decided to stay in her room for a day and a half. Not functioning, giving us hell. But we got over it again. She even got to watch some TV again, which is a privilege she lost for quite a while. We try to be keep strict borders concerning her behavior. When it comes to physical aggression she always loses privileges.

My parents in law were both WW2 children and grew up in a time were you just had to cope with whatever problems you had. There is a significant age gap between my wife and her parents, she was raised pretty traditionally (not particular religious) and they don’t have the same connection most parents have with their kids. My in laws love my daughter very much and they try to be good grandparents, but they are often a bad influence to her. They let her break all kinds of rules we think are important, I know most grandparents can do this to some point but they take it a little to far. They are also very hard to communicate with, often you can’t convince them on a subject no matter how hard you try. They we’re not the best parents to my wife, still aren’t, but they try to take care of her in their own way. Most of the time they make things more complicated then they already are.

My wife is trying to understand the complexity of ADHD and how it affects our daughters behavior. This is very difficult for her since I’m the one who’s trying to explain this and I suck at it. And the Ted talks I would like her to see rub her up the wrong way. She also can’t relate to the impulsive behavior. I managed to get my own impulsive behavior in a direction where it can be useful. Discovering new things and stuff like that. We keep each other in balance, I get her out of her comfort zone to do new things. She prevents me from doing stupid things I didn’t think thru. When a 9 year old has impulsive behavior while being angry this can get nasty real quick. I try to learn my daughter to deal with these impulses but progress is slow.
I often wish my wife would be easier going on the whole subject, but I’m not the one to judge. I’m very aware of the fact I can be very difficult to live with.

We both try to connect with our daughter, not to estrange from one another. But communicating with her can be very very challenging on some days. I don’t give up very fast on this, mainly because I tend to forget the nasty episodes real quick. ADD can be very helpfull :slight_smile:

We both love our daughter, she can be such a sweetheart. Last night I was watching Bob Ross with her, she loves painting and Bob calms her down. Afterwards we had a great conversation and I ended up being very tired today, I had to get up at 4am. It was worth every penny. She had a great day today, very focused and productive, no rows. My wife was delighted and I’m happy to. Still we’re anxiously awaiting the next crisis…

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If it’s available in your area, I would arrange for family therapy as soon as is possible.

What’s going on with your daughter is putting an enormous stress upon your entire family, and that is something that will need to be addressed before it causes harm to you all.

Also: Have you had your daughter checked for allergies or other medical problems? I know when my food allergies kicked into high gear, (which was around when I was 9) they wrecked havoc on everything, especially my emotions. It’s not often something that’s checked for when people are looking at what appears to be an emotional disturbance, but it can very much manifest as those sorts of behaviors.

Good luck.

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After another few heavy weeks we finally have a first doctors apointment today. My wife now realises the problem is very likely ADHD and our daughter has no control of the problem. I hope we can start medication as soon as possible. I’ll keep you posted…


Hope things work out for you and your daughter, and that your wife isn’t too ‘upset’ with the ‘problem’… hugs


After a visit to our doctor he sent us to the pediatrician, this was the same day. He in his turn sent us to a pediatric neurologist, who was only available 7 weeks later…

7 weeks of hell and terror, endless arguments, no moment of rest… It’s been hard. On the bright side, my daughter did take the exam for elementary school and nailed it. She finished it two years early and now can start high-school at home. I don’t know how she did it, but she managed to get herself together to finish the exam. As promised she now has two months off from homeschooling and we hoped things would be fine… They didn’t. During the holiday her problems got more and more obvious. Restless, not able to finish things, endless energy (for her, not for us…) arguing, protesting, fighting…
By the time we got to the neurologist we were more then desperate…

I was afraid the neurologist would not agree on medication immediately and would focus on her being “gifted” with high intelligence. But luckily he became aware of the urgent need of help for our daughter. During the doctors visit my daughter was not only sitting on a chair, but also underneath the desk pulling the hair on my legs. She also got on the examination bed during the conversation. She raised her hand to me several times while talking to the doctor… She behaved like she normally does.
After explaining the situation and the urgency to help her we finally got medication.

She’s now taking Equasym XR 10mg, building up to 20mg in two weeks. The first three days were promising, with no arguments what so ever. Only bedtime was still hard.
Today went wrong, she refused to get washed this morning and the next 7 hours (!) she was giving us hell again. I guess it’s just her body adapting to the medication and things will go better once she’s on 20mg. I was afraid she would refuse to take the medication, but she hasn’t protested yet. But it is very hard for her to swallow the pill, she’s always been in excellent health and never took any pills before. I hope she learns quickly. She’s very positive about the effect of the medication, but today she’s frustrated the adhd took over again.

We hope tomorrow will be a better day, we planned a father daughter Nerf game and some more playing around the house. I’m looking forward to some “regular” family activities after a very hard few months.

Thanks for listening and sorry for the bad English :smile:


Your English is great, and CONGRATULATIONS! Both for her being able to take ‘high school at home’ by passing the exam, and also for her ‘passing’ the examination, and the doctor taking you seriously, so she can get treatment and help!:blush::+1:

Hopefully the medication will do its job better as her body gets used to it, and she’ll be able to handle it better.:blush: If not, maybe it’s not the medication for her, and she’ll need to try others to find the perfect fit, but let’s not worry about the problems in advance.:wink: Good luck to all of you!:heart::+1:

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