With all the hoopla about “50 Shades of Grey,” I had to wonder about the effect the movie would have on ADHD kids (older kids). The thing that troubles me the most is that, although the two characters are, essentially stereotypes, these are two character portrayals that we ought to talk about with our kids (again, older kids).

This is a post about having the sex talk(s) with your ADHD children. What is going to be different and perhaps more difficult about having sex or waiting for sex for ADHD teens and young adults?

Instead of going into a debate about the movie, I’d like to talk about the two types: the manipulator and the innocent.

First of all, I’ve read the synopses of all 3 books on Wikipedia and they’re all filled with horribly immature, dramatic characters. Since we know that people with ADHD may lag behind as far as emotional development, you may find that the drama-filled teen years started earlier or extend later than with your other kids. You may also find that our ADHD kids are more susceptible to powerful movies, whatever the message.

This is important to keep in mind because when you’re talking to your kids about sex and sexuality, you may be assuming that they are as mature as they are smart. Intelligence and sexual conduct do not correlate. Sexual conduct has more to do with self-worth and impulse control and logic. Not to mention HORMONES and BRAIN CHEMISTRY. It’s hard to stop them when they start churning.

The Innocent

For example: I may think it’s a very bad idea to have a sexual encounter with person X because I know that he/she brags about his/her many partners. At this stage, I can see clearly that I don’t even want to get close to a sexual encounter with person X.

However, I may be wildly attracted to person Z, so much so that when he kisses me, all I can think about is how this must be how “true love’s kiss” feels and that it must be okay for us to move forward. We’ve now been dating for a month and he’s ready to “make love” to me. I feel ready too because this is true love and has been since the day he kissed me. The only future I’m thinking about is how great I’m going to feel; not about giving away my virginity, not about possible pregnancy or STDs. Those things aren’t important in OUR situation, I tell myself. And then we’re naked and there’s no condom and, even though I’m uncomfortable with that, how can I say “no” to my true love?

Logic is now dressed as my hot boyfriend, not as my parent. I’m not hearing anyone telling me to wait or to wait for true love because here it is – true love. There’s nothing to wait for. We’ll probably get married anyway because we’re so in love. How lucky I am to have found my future husband in my first boyfriend?!

I’m not saying the boy is a manipulator, but the girl is certainly an innocent.

The Manipulator

The manipulator gets power from changing people’s behavior and changing their thinking without their overt permission. You know how your son or daughter loves to get into it with you, trying to get you to change your mind and your behavior by not sticking to your rules or expectations. Even more, they may be expert at getting out of the consequence by concocting an argument that either speaks to your tender emotions or speaks to your exhaustion!

Now, your child is still a child so there’s time to snip this in the bud. This I know first hand. When I was a young teen I was a shoplifter. Some of you know this story and know that I not only stopped shoplifting but paid back all the stores. I was good at it and it was fun to flex my “brain muscles.” I was even able to get two of my friends to shoplift with me. They didn’t do it on their own; only with me.

You can see from this example and from the story of “50 Shades of Grey,” that I was a manipulator. Christian Grey is the extreme of the manipulator but even I, at age 14, could manipulate people.

ADHD teens can be innocents, manipulators, or both. I was both. The manipulator isn’t necessarily a bad person any more than the innocent is totally blameless. I would say that Innocents don’t have a lot of life experience, probably not a lot of confidence, and they don’t know how to say “no,” and manipulators live a lot in their brains. Their brains make them happy and they like to see how far they can stretch.

And both these types can be found in the greatest of children.

My Sex-Talk Tips for ADHD Tweens and Teens

1. Talk about sex a lot. Don’t make it a one-time thing. My favorite way to talk about this uncomfortable subject is to refer to scenes or relationships on TV or in the movies. For instance, the fact that “50 Shades” is in the theaters affords you the opportunity to share your values and opinions about the relationship between the two characters. I’m not saying you should see it. My opinion is DON’T see it but don’t hide from it. The publicity is all over the place.

Police shows offer lots of opportunities to talk about relationships and sex, both wanted and unwanted encounters. They’re also good jumping off points to talk about violence and STDs. These days even sitcoms are dealing with sex and sexuality.

2. Don;t get into deep conversations about your own sexual experiences (not a favored topic among teens) or different sex acts.

You can explain that you’re happy to talk in general terms but not about specifics events in your sexual life. If you waited for marriage, share that. If you didn’t wait for marriage and it was a mistake, share that. If you didn’t wait for marriage and it was a glorious, loving experience, share that too. Remember, though, that no one likes to be lectured to. Practice what you’ll say and think of when there might be an opening. Wait for the right time.

However…

3. As my friend and colleague, Amy Lang of Birds and Bees and Kids, would advise: it’s important to know your values before you start talking about sex. Not just the party line or what you think you SHOULD tell them. Be true to your values. As I like to say, this won’t automatically get them to behave a certain way but it’s important that when they’re in a stressful or overly excitable state of mind and body, it’s YOUR voice they hear in their heads, not some random celebrity’s voice. They should hear you saying, “Wait until you’re sure,” or “When you think you’re ready, come talk to me first,” or “Sex is sacred and reserved for marriage,” or “That was so sad for that boy – she was a horrible person (Yes, boys get used, abused, and raped too). Amy has two great books that I highly recommend, one for parents and one for teens. She also has a list on her website (above) of great books for parents with kids of any age.

4. Be VERY specific about what you expect. ADHD kids need specificity. And, again, you want them to hear your voice, even when you’re not around. It’s good when a child says, “Oh, my parents would be very mad if I did that!” Depending on your family, here are some examples you might use:

  • We want you to introduce us to your girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • We will invite his/her parents over for dinner so we can support you.
  • We expect you to wait for marriage to have any kind of sex other than kissing. <<<—- specificity
  • We will take you for birth control when you’re 16. If you can’t wait that long, please come tell us.
  • You must respect and honor your girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • It’s okay to say “no.” In fact, it’s more than okay.
  • If you get pregnant we will not take care of the baby for you.
  • You’re too young to have physical contact other than hugging.

5. DON’Ts. 

  • Don’t make sex sound horrible in any way. It’s one thing to create the expectation that waiting is a beautiful experience and quite another to make it sound like not waiting means you’re sick or bad.
  • Don’t show children and teens movies that depict the sexual act in any detail. That’s my value. When I was younger I got a good sexual health education but I was repulsed and terrified by the depictions of sex on the screen. Why? Because I think sex should be private. Plus, a lot of sex scenes show brutality, pain, discomfort, adultery, or other things that I’m uncomfortable with. There’s plenty of time for your children to make their own movie selections when they’re adults. Plus movies are more powerful than TV – movies have no intermissions to get away from the scene or the power of the scene. Movie theaters put you in another world whereas we watch TV in our own homes. Movies are generally overwhelming to the senses of ADHD kids – that’s why they’re bouncing around and shouting or else quiet as a mouse afterwards.
  • Don’t tell your kids you don’t want to hear their questions and concerns. You WANT to be the parents your children come to with questions. It can be uncomfortable but you are doing your kids a huge service by being willing to listen and not lecture. Sometimes it’s one particularly uncomfortable question and your compassionate answer that can determine your child’s good decisions about sex. I know this from experience with family, friends, and clients. Plus, ADHD kids may have some pretty creative questions. Just sayin’.

Talking about sex, and “50 Shades of Grey” in particular, can be uncomfortable but we need to remember that sexual health is a part of our total health profile and, whatever your values, the goal is to raise a child who feels comfortable with their sexual decisions, whether dating or waiting.

====================

Like this post and want more interaction? Check these out:

1. I’m on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest. I’m @GiftedWithADD

2. 45-minute free phone consultation. Schedule here.

3. If you haven’t gotten your copy of “Revolutionize Your ADHD Parenting in One Week,” grab a copy at this link.

 

xoxoxo, Margit

Copyright 2015 Margit Crane All Rights Reserved

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I think back to my own family, to my mother asking, “Why can’t we be more like The Waltons?” At the time, as a teenager, I thought it was a ridiculous question and I told her so. But today, as an adult, I realize that many parents dream of recreating a fantasy family. They long for the simplicity and harmony of TV families like The Waltons, The Bradys, or The Cunninghams of “Happy Days.” Or even the manageable chaos of the families on “Modern Family” where, at least, there’s a lot of love and humor. Parents want to believe they can recreate this if only they try harder. They feel they are letting their families down by not creating this type of family.

Still other parents do not dare hope for relief from parenting their ADHD kids. They live in overwhelm and drama, with occasional glimpses of relief and joy, much like the Connors on “Roseanne” or the Wilkersons on “Malcolm in the Middle.” They resent being told that they don’t have to live with so much tension and anguish. They say “You don’t understand.”

Never catch up, never slow down, never be good enough

To be sure, having an ADHD child affects the whole family. Your child’s drama becomes your drama (the parents) which becomes your other children’s drama. Too often, though, parents will attach themselves to the image of a fantasy family, and whether they embrace the Brady’s or the Conner’s, they create a negative fantasy for themselves in which they can never catch up, never slow down, never be good enough.

Whichever fantasy you live with, I gotta ask: “How much fun are you having?”

Both perfectionism and despair often appear to be real. We think that real people don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t understand us and our dilemma. But both are untruths, fictions that keep us tied to misery.

It is possible to transform a state of overwhelm into a state of calm, contentment, relief and hope.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again (in fact, I’m thinking of having it tattooed on my arm): I just love Albert Einstein’s quote,

“You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem.”

The problem isn’t the ADHD or our budget and time restraints. Those look very much like the problem, but as a Coach (and having been coached) I can tell you that those are disguises. They lure us to focus on them but it’s all smoke and mirrors.

The problem we can’t solve on our own is the way we think about our situation, whatever it may be. Our problem is that we’re stuck and can’t see that there’s any other solution. In fact, people will go to great lengths to explain to me why their problem is everything BUT the way they think about the situation.

I get it. I’ve been there too.

It’s a puzzle: when we’re so unhappy, why do we fight tooth and nail to stay that way? Why do we feel we’ve been insulted, misunderstood, or rejected when someone says, “I know a better way”?

3 Ways to Suffer Less and Enjoy More

1. ADHD parents have often been “handed a line of horse manure” when trying to parent our children in a world that seems to shun us and them. We have the right to be wary of so-called experts. But thinking that we are the experts for our children is not helpful either. (Ummm, coz if you were the experts you wouldn’t be so exhausted, frankly).

Instead, find an expert who will partner with you. Someone who will be available to you, someone who will accompany you through the muck that you’re stuck in. No sandcastle can be built if the waves keep washing it away.

You need solid ground, a person who will be your dry land while you learn to avoid the waves.

2. Stop thinking about how bad the future is going to be if X does or does not happen. You may notice that your children don’t really care when you say things like, “If you get an F you won’t be able to do advanced math next year,” or “You won’t be able to get into X college.” Youngsters don’t think that way. Kids and teens live in the present for the most part. You’re worrying about the future and expecting them to step up because you’re worried is not possible. They don’t have the emotional maturity and years of experience that you have to understand your concerns.

So stay in the present. That’s where they live. Make each day a new day. Don’t gather resentments and punish them tomorrow for something they did a week ago. That really doesn’t teach much to a child with ADHD. Of course you can have rules like “No going out on school nights” but that’s a rule, not a punishment. ADHD kids don’t always see the connection between not cleaning their rooms on Tuesday and not going to a birthday party on Saturday.

What IS the connection anyway? ;)

3. Parent with kindness as your priority. I’m not at all suggesting that you be a pushover or that you give in to whatever your child wants. NOT AT ALL! But remember that our children receives all our frustration and anger. Kids are like that. They want nothing more than to please you. They would give anything to be able to control themselves so that you would be happy and not angry.

Sometimes we parent so that WE will be happy, so that WE will be calm. Often parents come to me and talk about how frustrating it is to parent an ADHD child. I would ask you to think about how frustrating it is to BE an ADHD child. We know we’re different, whether you tell us we have ADHD or not. We can’t control many of our reactions and yet we get blamed for it. We want to please you and feel like rejects when we can’t.

If I don’t do the dishes, even if that’s my chore to do, it’s not because I want to make you life harder. It’s because something is blocking me from seeing this as an easy task. It doesn’t matter that it’s easy; it doesn’t matter that you tell me it’s easy. I need your help, your company, to learn to make doing the dishes an easy task.

It isn’t super convenient to have an ADHD child but it’s even less convenient to have an ADHD 30- or 40-year old that sees himself/herself as a loser because he/she was never able to please you. I’ve seen that. It’s a miserable existence and I know that’s not what you want for your kids.

P.S. I’m going to venture a guess: I’m guessing that Mary Ellen Walton, Peter Brady, and Joanie Cunningham may have had some attention and/or executive function issues. :)

========================

Like this post and want more interaction? Check these out:

1. I’m on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest. I’m @GiftedWithADD

2. 45-minute free phone consultation. Schedule here.

3. If you haven’t gotten your copy of “Revolutionize Your ADHD Parenting in One Week,” grab a copy at this link.

 

xoxoxo, Margit

Copyright 2014 Margit Crane All Rights Reserved

=======================

 

 

 

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