Latest Articles | Jun 7, 2010 | 3 Comments

Seeing It Differently

Not Wrong, Just Different is about the right perspective to have about the relationship, it’s about seeing it differently.  The way we see a situation is called our “paradigm”. Sure, it sounds like a Dilbert cartoon word but hang in there, it works for this situation. Try on this paradigm for a minute, ADHD doesn’t make someone wrong, it just makes them different. As I’ve interviewed others in ADHD relationships there are a few different but common paradigms that seem to come up again and again.

The first is  ADHD isn’t real.

This one is the most frustrating for those of us living and loving our ADHD peeps. It’s what keeps us in hiding sometimes. However, let’s be fair, no two people hold the same paradigms about anything. We all have formed our view based on our own upbringing and experiences.

Now this is an interesting paradigm that some people hold. On the resources page we have some facts and stats about ADHD, the very real ADHD.  The tough part about this one is, sometimes people really really like their paradigms.  They hold on to them like a puppy. They love it and pet it and feed it and help it grow. They don’t want facts and studies and charts and brain scans that tell them their puppy isn’t real or cute. Be ready for that. It happens.

I’ve even run across some folks that I would bet my puppy have ADHD themselves, but  they don’t want to admit there is something called ADHD. Paradigms are an interesting deal. REMEMBER, no two people share identical paradigms so we can’t make broad generalizations about why people think what they think and believe what they believe. Sometimes I want to stick my tongue out at these people, call them stupid and run away, but that’s not fair or helpful. Fun maybe in the moment, but not fair.

I’m finding that often people with this paradigm are trying to protect their child or spouse and themselves. They are in denial because they don’t want to believe there is something wrong with those they love.  These folks can usually be gently influenced over time.

I get most uncomfortable and ready to put up my dukes with those that don’t believe ADHD is real and they’re mean about it. They can shame those with ADHD about their behavior, calling them lazy or stupid.  I’ve heard people comment that ADHD was made up by the drug companies to make more money. Sometimes they blame the parents for giving their kids too much sugar, or too much TV or not enough discipline.

Of course this is the scariest paradigm of all for the person with ADHD.  These relationships are at risk. Many end in divorce. The children become frustrated and defiant. A sad reality is sometimes the child  has no interest in maintaining a close connection with these parents. Many won’t stay in the house past the legally required age or in some cases they leave earlier.  They suffer a lack of confidence and self-esteem that plagues them into adulthood.

You can easily see what kind of long term impact there is for a child that is raised with parents that believe this, or for the spouse that lives with a partner that believes this.  In my, not so humble opinion, these relationships are often doomed. The person with ADHD will suffer many long term consequences to their confidence and self esteem.  If you know someone in this type of ADHD relationship, help them. Love them, affirm them. Give them hope and confidence. They need you to help them see it differently.

Next up is the paradigm of the  The Fixer. These folks are on a mission, warriors to make this better. They’re constantly trying new diets, new doctors, new therapist, with a library of books on the brain sitting front and center in the family room. These folks study ADHD and those that they love with ADHD like an entomologist studies bugs, microscope in hand, always ready to assess the situation and then fix it.

This is really tough because they have this view out of pure love. They are protectors on a quest to make things better. Pure in their intent and sometimes short on their impact to the relationship.

The fixer, over time, becomes tired and resentful, especially when their help isn’t appreciated. If the relationship ends, they have no idea how they contributed because they were only trying to help. Sometimes they simply throw in the towel because they are trying to fix something that can’t be fixed.

This can be equally frustrating for the the ADHD person who begins to feel like a science fair experiment.  Their self esteem suffers from perpetually being fixed and therefore believing they must be broken. Over time they can become defiant, resisting and resenting all strategies to help with their ADHD.

Sadly, I have seen and listened to stories of these relationships failing because the ADHD person begins to look for other relationships that will be more accepting, friends at school, or the co-worker that is more sympathetic. Children can end up in the wrong crowd and spouses can end up in the arms of someone more accepting.

The divorce rate of ADHD couples is more than double the average divorce rate, which is already staggering.  All of these started out with love and good intent.

So join me on this journey to consider another option, let’s try on the paradigm of Not Wrong, Just Different.

ADHD is real and needs to be acknowledged.  There are many strategies that are helpful for ADHD, there isn’t, however, a cure, or a one size fits all solution. There is no ADHD easy button.

Not Wrong, Just Different is about acceptance, love, patience and understanding.  It’s about learning about ADHD in a healthy collaborative environment.  It’s about meeting people where they are, and finding a way to nurture the best of each other.

Being in love with an ADHD person or raising a child with ADHD has its fair share of struggles and frustrations.  Find me a relationship that doesn’t have its fair share of struggles and frustrations!

On this site and in the yet to be released book, Not Wrong Just Different we’ll look at the behaviors that can easily flow out of this paradigm. But first we need to see it differently.

For more information about the Not Wrong Just Different behaviors, check out the ABOUT THIS PROJECT page.


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Needless to say, I’m very excited about your book because it is EXACTLY what I want to know more about! It’s awesome to find common experiences and learn from practitioners who’ve logged a few, or a lot, more hours than me. As my son grows I learn more and more about the different parts, watch him soar in various areas, and fall flat on his face in others. But, it’s taken me a while to get to this point in our relationship (being able to see that the differences are ok) because I spent so much time wondering if it was my lack of parenting skills and how I needed to fix the problem, or criticisms from others. I suppose that it’s also about having confidence in myself as a parent, of which I’ve grown.

Thanks for sharing your experiences for the sake of others, Rebecca! I can’t wait to read it!



This is an important book Rebecca. I worked on the accent wall, in your son’s room a few years ago. It was a pleasure to meet all of you. I would venture to speculate that every person, at some time, will be in some sort of relationship with an ADHD person. I believe your point of view, on the facts will help gently guide them to a more positive, encouraging, beneficial path.

I loved your description that they ride the waves of passion in their lives. Each journey is different. It is wonderful to hear encouragement of tolerance, and acceptance for what is different.

Thanks for sharing your work and your heart.

Skye Seaborn (formerly Theresa (Skye) Epp)

Thanks Skye! You taught me that orange is a great color for ADHD kids which inspired the website color and the book cover will absolutely be orange too. So glad to find your comment tonight – thanks again –



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