Our community weighs in: The hardest part of parenting kids who learn and think differently

Raising kids who learn and think differently can be hard. That’s one of the reasons why Understood has community groups for families. It’s a secure place for them to share their feelings and connect with one another.

We also have an active Facebook community where parents share their thoughts. We asked our Facebook followers to weigh in on the following question: “What’s the biggest challenge you face as a parent?”

Their candid answers touched on four topics: emotional concerns, school issues, dealing with judgment, and practical challenges. Read on for their replies.

Emotional concerns

  • “The feeling that I can NEVER relax or let my guard down. That I need to be on top of my game every minute, always reading and researching, always providing daily supports for my child, always advocating in school and the community.” — Gayla
  • “My perfectionism. My patience. My temper.” — Lisa
  • “Not being obvious enough of how proud I am of them.” — Osman
  • “Always having the same issues and feeling like we are in an endless cycle.” — Natalia
  • “Mom guilt × 100.” — Susan
  • “Learning to find patience. Because I think my son should remember stuff especially when I constantly remind him. For example, he won’t remember to turn the TV and lights off in his bedroom, BUT he remembers if I told him a week ago I was taking him out today for dinner.” — Darlene
  • “Being understanding of her struggles. I never had difficulty in school, and I am a naturally motivated person. It is difficult for me to understand that sometimes she just doesn’t understand the material and that struggle makes it difficult for her to stay motivated to learn.” — Carina
  • “Never being able to just be the mom, without constantly having to advocate for my child’s special needs.” — Abigail
  • “Separating my feelings toward the behavior from my feelings toward the person.” — Vicki

School issues

  • “School, definitely. My square pegs do not fit their round world. — Cindy
  • “Knowing/finding the best education path to meet his unique needs.” — Caroline
  • “Trying to get teachers to understand that he’s not being stubborn. He shut down because he’s very lost and embarrassed.” — Jennifer
  • “Dealing with the special education system. Luckily I’m a trained professional advocate, yet it’s still exhausting playing the district’s games. Timelines are insufficient and often potential changes aren’t seen until the following school year.” — Angela
  • “Teaching my son in a way that he understands and doesn’t push me over the edge. It would be a true blessing to get through a reading lesson that doesn’t end with both of us in tears.” — Nichole
  • “Lack of understanding. Why, after all this time, am I still explaining to the school, the general-ed teachers, the special-ed teachers, etc., what dyslexia is and how it affects my children? The school should have a better understanding.” — Tara
  • “Trying to get teachers to understand just because he looks and acts ‘normal,’ he has an IEP for a reason and they need to follow it.” — Catherine
  • “One word: Homework.” — Katie
  • “Dealing with the same school battles year after year. Trying to get teachers and administration on the same page in understanding our daughter’s challenges has become a never-ending and exhausting feat, but one we don’t back down from or give up on.” — Tambra
  • “Trying to get teachers to understand how hard my daughter is trying and have some compassion.” — Nicki
  • “Having teachers treat my son like he is broken on one hand, and trying desperately to remind him that he is smart on the other, so that he will actually believe in himself enough to try.” — Ingrid
  • “Getting teachers to realize that when he shuts down, it is not a choice he is making. His challenges and anxiety create a vicious cycle and there are times when he ‘just can't.’ Eventually I get everyone on the same playing field but it can be an exacerbating feat. — Christine
  • “As a school psychologist and a mother of a child with dyslexia and ADHD, I feel overwhelmed knowing what intervention SHOULD look like and knowing she is not getting what she needs to help her mediate her learning challenges.” — Amy

Dealing with judgment

  • “Other parents’ advice. It’s either they have toddlers and they are telling you how to raise your teenagers as they know it all now, or Granny recommending boot camp and saying there is no such thing as ADHD.” — Splash
  • “The complete lack of understanding on the part of others. Because some disabilities are ‘invisible,’ like processing speed issues and social anxiety.” — Cindy
  • “That other children won’t understand her and instead choose to leave her out of playdates and birthday parties. It’s heartbreaking to see other kids and their parents look down their noses at her. I’ll never understand how our world can at one moment be lifted up by diversity and acceptance, but in my own neighborhood we can be shunned and ignored.” — Jennifer
  • “Just wanting her to stand out for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons. To not have to explain her behavior and reassure others that we are working on it.” — Aimee
  • “Not knowing other parents whose kids have the same issues and who understand me.” — Noemi
  • “That instead of people saying they don’t understand that ADHD and dyslexia looks different in different kids, they expect my child to be like the other kids and not taking the time to understand her.” — Sonya
  • “Having people understand that even if she is very bright, she will struggle with paying attention and staying focused, struggle with reading, writing, organizing, etc. Some still believe that she is so bright and articulate, there is no way she has the diagnosed issues — she is just being belligerent.” — Nicole
  • “Dealing with, and trying to counter, the reality of the societal bias (including some educators) that there’s something wrong with my child because he doesn’t fit into this narrow definition of ‘normal’ and ‘learner.’” — Kristen
  • “Watching my child be ‘the weird kid’ when he tries so hard to be liked and friendly. It breaks my heart.” — Ashley
  • “Dealing with other people’s judgment while second-guessing myself. — Sally

Practical challenges

  • “The amount of money it takes to get my child accurately identified at a young age; anxiety of being alone in this and figuring out where to start or go next. Oh, and maintaining a full-time job. — Tiffany
  • “Balancing their needs with the needs of my other three kids. I don’t feel like there is enough of me to go around, especially when he needs so much of my time to be successful.” — Jennifer
  • “Have I done enough for him to be ready to be an adult?” — Sheryl
  • “Holding my child accountable and expecting him to do his best, while not setting unrealistic expectations.” — Ryanne
  • “Worrying about the future.” — Kristen
  • “The constant talking and quick subject changes I must make. I am completely exhausted just from the mental task of teaching and reteaching.” — Jennifer
  • “Salvaging and building their self-esteem.” — Amy
  • “That one day I am going to die, and then what happens to him?” — Susan
  • “Getting him to not give up on himself and stop comparing himself to other kids.” — Tria
  • “That [these issues] are life-long.” — Angela

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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.