Whether they mean to or not, other people can be rude or judgmental about how you parent. They might assume they know more about ADHD and your child’s challenges than you do. They may even try to step in.
Here are ideas on how to respond when other parents and adults criticize, offer unwanted advice, or try to discipline your child.
Offering Unwanted Advice
The scene: At school drop-off, another mom says, “I read an article about ADHD today. It said that parents should change their kids’ diets to stop bad behavior. Did you see that?”
How to respond: “I did, thanks!” or, “No, but that sounds interesting.”
The rationale: You don’t have to chat with near-strangers about your parenting choices. You can choose a polite version of “I’m not comfortable discussing my child.”
Criticizing Your Parenting
The scene: Your daughter forgets her soccer cleats. You go home for them, because you know how your child loves soccer after a hard day at school. Another dad says, “She sure has you wrapped around her finger.”
How to respond: “She’s getting better at staying organized, and soccer is great for her.”
The rationale: You can offer a bit of information without going into details. Sharing that your child is working on something hints that there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Disciplining Your Child
The scene: At a birthday party, another parent says, “If he’d stay in one place, we could get a picture of the whole group. Alan, will you stop fidgeting?”
How to respond: When your child isn’t listening, try saying, “Staying still is hard for Alan. We’re working on it, and we’d prefer to keep this a family matter.”
The rationale: It’s understandable to go into protective mode when another adult tells your child what to do. Try to stay calm and stick to the facts.
Dealing with other people’s judgment can be frustrating and emotionally draining. Hear from another parent on what she wishes people knew about parenting a child with ADHD. Download an ADHD fact sheet you can share.
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About the author
About the author
Lexi Walters Wright is the former Community Manager at Understood. As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.
Laura Tagliareni, PhD is a pediatric neuropsychologist in New York City and a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center.