New Parent ADHD Primer with Dr. Marcy Caldwell
As our guest says it, a lot happens when you have a new creature to care for. The lessons that come when you’re facing the stressors of new parenthood might unlock some things you don’t know about yourself: ADHD. Dr. Marcy Caldwell joins us to tell us all why.
As our guest says it, a lot happens when you have a new creature to care for. The lessons that come when you’re facing the stressors of new parenthood might unlock some things you don’t know about yourself: ADHD.
Dr. Marcy Caldwell (ADDept.org) is director and supervising psychologist at Rittenhouse Psychological Assessments and is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been specializing in the treatment and assessment of ADHD and learning disabilities for over 15 years. She joins us today to answer some of our frequent questions about parenting and ADHD, from hormonal changes to how moms and dads each understand how ADHD symptoms emerge under the changes of parenthood.
Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon
Pete Wright: Hello everybody. And welcome to Taking Control, The ADHD podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.
Nikki Kinzer: Hello everyone. Hello, Pete. Right?
Pete Wright: Nikki. I’m just plum miserable.
Nikki Kinzer: Oh no.
Pete Wright: I know. I went to the doc yesterday. I have to go back today. I have discs that are swollen in my back.
Nikki Kinzer: Oh, it sounds painful.
Pete Wright: It’s so painful and stupid.
Nikki Kinzer: Did something happen? Did you injure yourself in some way?
Pete Wright: As with all things back related, back and neck related for me, it happened while sleeping. I don’t know.
Nikki Kinzer: Because that is dangerous.
Pete Wright: But it just keeps growing. It started in the lower back, now it’s like radiating pain, I’m miserable. We’re going to do this show and then immediately after I shall fall down and that’s what I have to offer today.
Nikki Kinzer: All right.
Pete Wright: Is being a victim of gravity.
Nikki Kinzer: Oh, I’m sorry.
Pete Wright: I’m so excited about this show. This starts because months ago, we got a question by way of my wife, who said, "Have you ever done a show on this new parent thing? Like what it means to be a new parent and get diagnosed with ADHD?" And it turns out we have a fantastic resource who can help us walk through the answer to this question, Dr. Marcy Caldwell, and she’s going to join us very shortly. We’ve missed Marcy, it’s been a long time since she’s been back to the show and I’m excited to welcome her back.
Pete Wright: Before we get started, however, head over to Take Control ADHD, get to know us, dot com. Get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list and we will send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest at takecontroladhd and jump into our Discord server. Take control adhd.com/discord. That’ll take you to the invite screen where you can jump in and join our public community channel. If you would like a little bit more, you can always check out our Patreon, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. We’ll get you access to the super triple secret Discord channels, early access feed for the podcast, access to lots and lots of other benefits that come with the member [crosstalk 00:02:20].
Nikki Kinzer: Did you happen to talk about Placeholder? Did that just come up?
Pete Wright: No. Well, not.
Nikki Kinzer: I just want to make sure that people know how awesome your podcast is.
Pete Wright: I don’t know how awesome the podcast is, I’m terrible at that, but I deeply enjoy doing it. How about that? If you’re interested in it, in listening to a podcast called Placeholder that Pete does a show about the tech we’re using today, while we’re waiting for something better, that Pete really enjoys doing, but makes no claims to quality or insight, then you should do that. And you get that by becoming a member at any level of our Patreon, patreon.com/thehdhdpodcast. Thank you for your support there. But you know how giddy I get when I get to talk about our advertiser this week.
Nikki Kinzer: TextExpander.
Pete Wright: TextExpander. I’m always finding new ways to use TextExpander. You’ve heard me say it before. It is one of my very favorite. I call it an invisible tool. Do you know what I mean by invisible tool, Nikki?
Nikki Kinzer: It’s just there. It just does things for you and you don’t even know it’s going to do it. It just does it. It just works.
Pete Wright: [crosstalk 00:03:27] you just like magic fingers. You do a thing on your keyboard and then magically, it just works. It just does stuff. It’s running in the background, is just waiting for me to type an abbreviation or a snippet in TextExpander speak. And then when it sees that snippet, it goes to work, instantly expanding from just a few characters on my keyboard to words, sentences, paragraphs, entire pages of text. I’m writing an email, I just hit ;PW, Pete Wright, that’s my name. If I hit ;PW, three keys, it expands to my entire email signature, whatever I have in there. It’s got amazing, amazing features. That’s just one little tiny thing. Today we’re talking about new parenting. And if you are crazed with details that come from trying to figure out how to manage your life with new parenting, maybe saving some time at your computer, it might be useful for you.
Pete Wright: If that’s the case, you should absolutely check out TextExpander. You said it once in TextExpander, you build your snippet library of whatever text you find you’re sending to doctors, to caregivers, to, as you’ll find in this show, your superhero, night doula. Anything you need to type, you save it once you get it perfect, and then you can create it on the fly easily, easily, easily. But it’s not just for me. As it happens, I’m on two teams of people that actually work in TextExpander too, and I hope you will explore the team features. The way TextExpander says it, your team’s knowledge is at their fingertips. That’s true. But what I love about it is if I write something and I put it in our TextExpander team library, I know that when they use it won’t be screwed up.
Pete Wright: They’ll get it exactly as we created it, every time, perfectly, it is easier for everyone. Get your whole team on the same page by getting information out of silos and in the hands of everyone who needs it. You can share your team’s knowledge across departments, so your team is sending unified messages to your customers and isn’t spending time reinventing the wheel. So just very quickly, a reminder how it works. First, you put your snippets into the TextExpander snippet library. Second, you can share it, optionally, with other people that you use snippets, maybe it’s with your partner, your spouse, maybe it’s with your older children and you need to make sure they have all their numbers right every time they use it, whatever, and then you expand it. You just type a few keys and TextExpander sees those keys and creates and expands your snippet wherever you’re writing on any, any device. TextExpander is available on Mac and Windows and Chrome and iPhone and iPad. It’s everywhere.
Pete Wright: And for listeners of The ADHD Podcast, you can get 20% off your first year of service. All you have to do is visit takecontroladhd.com/textexpander. Very easy to remember, because it’s us, and then TextExpander. Takecontroladhd.com/textexpander. It will whizz you over to our page on their site where you can get started. Again, get started now and you’ll save 20% off your subscription. The way we work is changing rapidly, make work work the way your brain works by saying more in less time with less effort using TextExpander. Our great thanks to the TextExpander team. We’re sponsoring The ADHD Podcast.
Pete Wright: And now let’s talk to Marcy. Shall we?
Nikki Kinzer: Let’s.
Pete Wright: Marcy?
Pete Wright: Marcy Caldwell as director and supervising psychologist at written house psychological assessments and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Who’s been specializing in the treatment of assessment of ADHD and learning disabilities for over 15 years. She joins us today to answer some of our frequent questions about parenting and ADHD. Marcy, welcome back to The ADHD Podcast.
Marcy Caldwell: Thank you so much for having me in. I’m thrilled to be here.
Pete Wright: This whole thing started because I got a question. My podcast dog is doing a little bit of resettling.
Marcy Caldwell: Yes. Yes.
Pete Wright: Are you okay? Can you lie down? Just relax. It’s going to be fine. Thank you. You’re good. You’re good. This whole thing started the conversation I was having with my wife and she told me she was having a conversation with one of the women who works with her, who was just diagnosed with ADHD. And she said, "I didn’t even have a framework for understanding that I had ADHD until I became a mom." She got her diagnosis right after… In the first year or two I think, that she was a mom and the stresses of becoming a mom unleashed some things that she did not know about herself. And I thought that might make for a really interesting conversation about ADHD diagnoses coming after you become a parent. What is it about becoming a new parent that allows you to see some new things about yourself regarding ADHD?
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah, for sure. We see this a lot. That’s one of the time periods where we see a lot of adult diagnosis happening and it makes sense across the lifespan. We tend to see diagnoses happening in these critical moments where there’s a lot going on. We see it in the seven to eight year old range when we’re just starting to really introduce heavy academics. We see it again in middle school. We see it again in college and grad school. When we start to introduce new demands, we start to get these peaks of ADHD diagnoses. What bigger new demand is there than new motherhood when all of a sudden your entire life has been transformed from the outside and from the inside. There’s so many different things happening in early motherhood. There’s all the hormonal changes. There’s a giant lifestyle change that has occurred. There is the relationship changes that occur. And then there’s all of the additional demands on you and on your life and on your responsibilities that come in as well. I think all of these things tend to then coalesce into being such a giant…
Marcy Caldwell: I keep wanting to say burden, but that’s a terrible word for our [crosstalk 00:10:07]. But I a giant bottle of responsibilities.
Nikki Kinzer: Your whole life just changes.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah.
Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. I also think there’s something here about women often not seeking out diagnoses when it’s just for themselves. That if it’s just something about, "Oh, I can get through that. It’s hard, but it’s hard for everyone. I’ll just muddle through and get there." But when it then impacts a child, it often then makes it more clear, more obvious, and it then propels women to then do something else, do something additional, because they then start to see how it’s impacting other people.
Pete Wright: So it’s that trigger of becoming a new mom, those new stresses that make it apparent that it’s time for me to act.
Marcy Caldwell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And that those stresses are now impacting somebody other than herself. When it’s just impacting herself, "Okay. Whatever, I’ll deal with it." but now it’s impacting somebody else and somebody that I care deeply about, now it’s time to deal with it on a different level.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, and I wonder, and you might be able to answer this. And I don’t even know if we can actually answer this now that I’m thinking about it. My thought process here is going to inattentive ADHD. Because I just recently did an interview about inattentive ADHD and how sometimes those diagnosis get missed because they don’t have as much of the hyperactivity. And I’m wondering, is there a connection to having inattentive ADHD not really realizing that’s what it is and then you have this big, huge life change and bam, all this stuff starts happening? Is there any connection there?
Marcy Caldwell: Well, I think that inattentive ADHD goes under the radar more. Because it doesn’t impact the outside world as much. It’s a very internal experience. And it’s the residue of inattentive ADHD that then gets picked up by other people. That residue being… In childhood it’s things like missed homework assignments or not understanding concepts. In adulthood it’s missing out on conversation pieces, missing out on deadlines, things like that. But those are more easily covered over. And I think a lot of women in particular have a lot of pressure to fit in and to blend and to be good.
Nikki Kinzer: And be good moms.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. There’s good moms and wives and all the rest, daughters. It’s very tempting to try to cover those symptoms over so they don’t get seen by the outside world and picked up and therefore somebody says, "Hey, what’s going on?" And add to that women are more likely to have inattentive ADHD than hyperactive ADHD. Women go a whole lot longer. There are a lot of reasons women would go whole lot longer without a diagnosis than boys and men. But that is definitely one of the reasons.
Pete Wright: Are there physiological hormonal changes that actually are more or less directly attributed to ADHD in the course of becoming new mom?
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah, definitely. One of the things when we’re talking about hormones, basic kind of primer is that-
Pete Wright: I need a primer. Thank you. That’s good. Primers [crosstalk 00:14:15].
Nikki Kinzer: I do too.
Marcy Caldwell: The two hormones most at play for women are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps our brains metabolized dopamine, which is one of the biggest neurotransmitters at play in ADHD. And also one of the biggest transmitters at play with ADHD medication. Progesterone makes it harder for dopamine to be absorbed. As these two hormones are in flux throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle, and then also throughout pregnancy, we see pretty major changes.
Marcy Caldwell: The first trimester of pregnancy can be extremely difficult for women with ADHD because we see this huge increase in progesterone. And we also see an increase in estrogen, but we see this huge increase in progesterone that diminishes the positive benefit of estrogen. And so ADHD symptoms can get a lot worse, but then we see this plateauing of mostly just estrogen, which keeps symptoms pretty good. In fact, a lot of women will report that they feel fine. They feel like they’re medicated, even though they’re not in their second and third trimester. And then in the fourth trimester, the postpartum period, there is an almost 200% decrease of estrogen in that three month period. There’s this like giant nose dive of estrogen, which then creates all of the mood changes that we see in that early stage, as well as a huge ballooning of ADHD symptoms.
Pete Wright: That is fascinating. Nikki, did you know this? I didn’t know any of this.
Nikki Kinzer: No, I didn’t. And I’m so curious, because I just had somebody ask me the other day and I don’t know the answer, but I bet you do, Marcy. She asked me that, when you’re on your period, if the ADHD meds work less?
Marcy Caldwell: Yes, they do.
Nikki Kinzer: And they do, okay.
Marcy Caldwell: They’re much less effective in that little stage, the last two weeks of a menstrual cycle. And particularly during those kind of premenstrual symptoms, in the three to five days before a periods begins.
Nikki Kinzer: They’ll be less effective?
Marcy Caldwell: Less effective and ADHD symptoms will be worse. It’s like a double whammy.
Nikki Kinzer: I want to stay on the new mom. I do. But I do have another question because this comes up so much with my clients. So para menopause and menopause then, what happens with ADHD in those shift of hormones?
Marcy Caldwell: Yep. The same scenario where ADHD symptoms get worse and ADHD meds tend to be less effective.
Nikki Kinzer: Interesting. Okay.
Pete Wright: But hopefully-
Nikki Kinzer: Okay, back to the babies.
Pete Wright: Well, yeah, that second and third trimester are so effective that really, what you’re saying is, you should just remain constantly and sustainably pregnant all the time. During your entire childbearing years, you’ll be fine. So many children, but no ADHD symptoms.
Marcy Caldwell: There’s no downside to that plan whatsoever.
Pete Wright: No, no, because we’re only focused on right now, Marcy. I don’t know if you know this about ADHD. It’s all I care about. Doesn’t matter. Okay.
Nikki Kinzer: I have another question. This is so fascinating to me. All right. So being a new mom, you don’t have sleep. There’s no sleep. I remember being so excited after getting four straight hours of sleep. And I thought that was just the most exciting thing in the world. How do you know the difference between "This is really hard. I don’t have any sleep. I don’t maybe have a lot of help or I’m struggling." How do you know if that’s ADHD getting worse or it’s just the situation that I’m in is hard, it’s a hard situation?
Marcy Caldwell: It’s so hard.
Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.
Marcy Caldwell: It is so hard for all moms. And I do really think that it is harder for ADHD moms. Because sleep is so crucial. In fact, research shows that there is a substantial difference in the quality of life between new ADHD parents and just new non ADHD parents. But the differential there disappears when you take into account sleep quality. That shows you how incredibly essential this is, but also how hard it is for ADHD brains to sleep. Let alone ADHD brains who are being woken up every 90 to whatever, 120 minutes. It’s hard enough for an ADHD brain to get to sleep the first time, let alone have to get to sleep five times in a row. And then it’s almost impossible for an ADHD brain to function when that sleep quality and sleep duration isn’t good enough.
Marcy Caldwell: We see if you deprive a neurotypical brain of just an hour of sleep a night for a week, just an hour, which we do that all the time, we get ADHD level executive functioning deficits, and that’s in a neurotypical brain. So imagine what happens in an ADHD brain when it’s deprived of sleep and to the degree that it is a new motherhood. So yeah, it’s really, really hard. Whenever I talk with new moms, I don’t even try to disentangle what’s ADHD and what’s new parenthood and what’s lack of sleep. It’s just all here and we’re just going to have to deal with everything that’s here right now.
Nikki Kinzer: Because this is how you’re feeling, this is what’s happening. It doesn’t matter what the label is or the diagnosis or whatever [crosstalk 00:20:52].
Pete Wright: Yeah. How do you even know?
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah, yeah. And I don’t think you can and in terms of kind of getting a new diagnosis in that postpartum period, I don’t even know that I would recommend that right then. Because it’s just like, "We just got to get through."
Pete Wright: It feels like you’re panning for gold. Like you’re you have all this cornucopia of all the different things that look like ADHD, maybe. But it sounds like what you’re waiting for is keep yourself lots of time after you become a new parent and see what sifts out, see what sticks around. Because if it all goes away, you’re fine. But you might discover some new things about yourself. Is that a fair assessment?
Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. Let’s get you some sleep. Let’s get some routines back in your life. Let’s get some help around here and then let’s figure this out. But with all those things up in the air, it’s pretty hard to figure that out.
Pete Wright: Just a slight sidebar on diagnosing of new parents in particular, do you see the same sort of trends for new dads? Obviously less hormonal based, but behavioral.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. I’m not going to speak to this in specific, but there is some interesting research about hormonal changes that happen in new fatherhood, which are fascinating, but I don’t know enough to speak at length about them.
Pete Wright: Does it involve sympathy weight gain? Because my God, I spent 20 years, I still haven’t [inaudible 00:22:23] it.
Marcy Caldwell: There is definitely some sympathy weight gain happening.
Nikki Kinzer: It’s all normal.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. Right.
Nikki Kinzer: Is there a higher likelihood for an ADHD mom to have postpartum depression? Is that an issue at all?
Marcy Caldwell: Yes. Yeah.
Nikki Kinzer: So that’s something to look out for?
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. Higher likelihood for depression and postpartum anxiety.
Pete Wright: Did you finish a question about dads?
Nikki Kinzer: I did.
Pete Wright: I feel like you never finished a question about dads.
Nikki Kinzer: Oh, I’m sorry.
Pete Wright: I need to hear the answer.
Nikki Kinzer: We went to the weight gain and I was just like, "Yeah, you’re normal. You’re good." Yeah.
Pete Wright: Yeah, no, I want to hear the rest of that.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. Postpartum dads, if that’s a thing, dad’s in the postpartum phase of life do have an increase in ADHD symptoms as well. It tends to be, as you said, less related to hormonal changes and more about responsibility changes, total loss of structure and any routines that were in place and this complete lifestyle change that just occurred. We see a change happening in dads with ADHD, new dads with ADHD. We also see some significant issues with… If a partnership is a mom with ADHD and a dad without ADHD, we also see a lot of distress happening with that non ADHD partner as well.
Pete Wright: You say distress, what does that look like?
Marcy Caldwell: That looks like psychological distress. Either some symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety and struggling to adapt to the changing demands. And we see increased levels of that distress in non ADHD partners.
Pete Wright: Yeah. One of the things you said earlier was, even if you don’t have ADHD, you have ADHD level symptoms if you’re missing an hour of sleep and you’re neurotypical. It sounds like you’re describing to me. If you’re non ADHD and you’re you’re facing these challenges, distress might look a lot like ADHD.
Marcy Caldwell: Exactly. Yep. Yep. And honestly we see some of that clinically, of people coming in being like, "I think I have ADHD." And maybe they don’t, maybe it’s more about lack of sleep, lack of structure and changes happening in life.
Pete Wright: What’s your guidance for people who are dealing with this. We’ve already talked about looking for ADHD symptoms in this part of your life is good luck. But at the same time, how do you guide people who are really struggling through this period to find structure and be on the lookout for the things that might be indicators of longer term ADHD symptoms.
Marcy Caldwell: My first and biggest guidance is give yourself a whole lot of grace and try to give your partner as much grace as possible too. This is an extremely difficult time of life. And yes, there’s a lot of joy, but there’s a whole lot of pain here too. It’s not going to look the way you expected it to look, that’s true, whether you have ADHD or not. But I think especially when you have ADHD, trying to build in structure, trying to build in routine, trying to do all of that while managing this new creature in your life, it’s really, really hard. Giving yourself a lot of grace for all the mistakes that you’re going to make, giving yourself a lot of grace for any mood changes, upset that happens. All these things are all expected and totally normal.
Marcy Caldwell: When it comes to "Help, my ADHD symptoms are out of control. This can be one of the many life rafts that I need to grab onto right now to help me settle this down." I think, if you’re not breastfeeding, then talking with a psychiatrist about some meds would be useful. I really think as soon as a woman is able to exercise, exercise can be a really key way to help answer. And I say, help answer, because it’s not going to make it all go away. But even if it’s just pushing the stroller outside for 20 minutes, getting your body moving, getting outside baths your brain in neurochemicals that you need.
Marcy Caldwell: And when that estrogen level is low, we need to bathe it with as much as we possibly can. And getting our bodies in motion is one of the best way to do that, particularly when medication isn’t accessible. Whether your medication is not accessible because you’re breastfeeding or whether medication’s not accessible because we can’t figure out whether you have ADHD yet, because everything’s so in upheaval, going out and getting nature’s medicine, which is exercise, is really key. And then, trying to find ways to get sleep, which is way easier said than done and used to piss me off as a new mom, be "Sure, great. Thanks."
Nikki Kinzer: "Sleep when the baby sleeps."
Marcy Caldwell: "Sleep when the baby sleeps."
Nikki Kinzer: That’s what you always hear.
Marcy Caldwell: Yeah. Yeah.
Nikki Kinzer: Yeah.
Marcy Caldwell: But you know what? There are other things that need to happen too. I need to eat. But finding other people to help support you, so that you can get whatever sleep you possibly can drip out of it. Whether that’s grandparents or partners or friends or a night doula or whatever, something to assist you.
Pete Wright: A night doula.
Nikki Kinzer: Which is actually I think is nice-
Pete Wright: Sound like a superhero.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, they are.
Pete Wright: The Night Doula.
Marcy Caldwell: That’s exactly what they’re.
Nikki Kinzer: They are superheroes. But it’s also, I think what you’re saying, are really good ideas for other people who are listening that are seeing friends or family that are going through this. What great ways to help to be able to come in and I don’t clean their house or clean a couple of bathrooms or make some meals or put some things in the freezer, anything you can do to help. You take the baby for a walk so mom can sleep. What great ideas also to help other people that you know are going through this?
Marcy Caldwell: Don’t just text like "How can I help?" Answering that requires a whole lot of executive functioning. And requires getting over all barriers of social politeness. Don’t say "I’d really like to come over at 2:00 and take the baby so that you can sleep. Sound good?" Right. [crosstalk 00:29:47].
Pete Wright: That’s binary. Requires very little thought.
Marcy Caldwell: Yes. You want it to be a yes/no response.
Pete Wright: Yeah. Right.
Marcy Caldwell: That’s a great thing to say for sure. I’m curious, I am going to jump ahead a little bit in a different chapter of parenting life. I know that I see a lot of clients who do get diagnosed after their kids get diagnosed. They may not have the same hormonal things going on, but obviously that diagnosis is brand new. There’s still a lot of questions. What would you say to those people? What kind of support structures or what can they do with this new diagnosis?
Marcy Caldwell: Well, there may not be, although there may be different hormonal changes happening. There probably is still something happening in their life. Like something led them to get their child assessed and go through that process, which is not an easy process so something must have propelled that. So my guess is that there’s some kind of stress happening in the home because we also have a new child diagnosis. And then yeah, when adults see their struggles reflected in their kid, this is another really prime time for diagnosis to happen, and one of the ones that we see the most frequently in our practice. And it can be a giant roller coaster. So many different things come up for people. Everything from "Oh, no. I gave this to my kid," to "I don’t want my kid to have struggle the way I’ve struggled," to a relieving like, "Oh, finally I have an answer," and then 10,000 other ones that I’m not coming up with, but there’s so many different responses to this and you can have all of them all at the same time.
Marcy Caldwell: And I think the next step after you have a diagnosis is to acknowledge that this is a big shift that’s happening. It can be easy to say, "Well, this has been the case for me all my life, it shouldn’t feel like anything new or different." But it is. I’ve had clients tell me that it feels like putting on glasses for the first time and being able to see everything clearly. And when you have this new perspective over who you are and how your brain works and how you’ve lived in the world thus far, that’s a major shift that’s happening internally. And it’s bound to shift how you interact in your family and how you interact in the world. Again, giving yourself some grace as you go through that really difficult process and going and seeing if you can find someone to help you too. Getting some great coaching or therapy to help you through that process, because you’re dealing with two new diagnoses and trying to find the right strategies for both of these people. It’s important that you have some help to do that.
Pete Wright: I will say, as a silver lining, there is some joy that comes with discovering tools that work for one that also work for the other. Like going through the process with my daughter and realizing that her accommodations we were coming up with at school were really helpful for me. There’s real benefit to that synchronicity. That can be a silver lining that is truly something to be grateful for. Certainly doesn’t work every time, but it’s nice when it does.
Marcy Caldwell: And we see that in the literature too, that we actually see better outcomes for kids with ADHD, whose parents also have ADHD and know about it.
Pete Wright: That is awesome. Put that on the poster.
Nikki Kinzer: I know, right?
Pete Wright: For everyone who is listening in our community, who lives with ADHD, just tell your kids "You’re welcome." That’s all you have to say. "You’re welcome."
Marcy Caldwell: Exactly.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, there’s got to be a lot more… Is it empathy that I’m thinking of off? Because you do understand it and you do live with it. So then you’re going to empathize more with your child and not just assume that they don’t care, because you know they care, you know what’s going on, because you’ve lived it, you get it. Yeah. And then I think from the child’s point of view too, they get to see mom and dad or both, or mom and mom whoever’s in their family, that "Oh, look, they struggled, but they came back up. They were okay." There’s a lot of good things about that.
Pete Wright: I just have a quick ADHD story. My daughter is an adult now. She’s in college, she’s living in Ashland, away from us. And she sends me texts. This is just father-daughter stuff. And she sends me these texts. And you’re probably not going to be able to see this when I hold it up. But the other day she sent me this picture. Can you see that? It’s a picture of a woven grass basket. And then immediately below that, can you see what she says?
Nikki Kinzer: "Hyperfocused. I am so…" something.
Pete Wright: She said this at 1:49 AM. And it says in all caps with so many exclamation points. "Hyperfocused! I am so wide awake. Wow." And she had just woven a basket out of grass. And so I have written her "That’s so cute. I hope it didn’t come at too great a cost." And she says, "I was asleep seven minutes after sending that text. Brain got to do what a brain got to do."
Nikki Kinzer: Oh, love it.
Pete Wright: That’s one of those things. I only share that as a way for… Because it’s the way I celebrate having grown up. And I say, I grew up and she grew up for the last 20 years living and learning about this stuff, that we don’t have to have a parent child relationship about our collective ADHD anymore. And that has been something that I didn’t know to expect, but in this stage, it is enormously gratifying that we can just exchange how funny our brains are and know what to do in spite of the challenges that our brains posed for us from time to time.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, what I love seeing about that too, is that there’s no shame in this conversation. This is all like, "Hey, look, you’ll get this." And there’s humor to it. And I think that that’s such a healthy way because I can see it going so… The other way where somebody’s feeling bad because they’re not able to sleep or whatever.
Pete Wright: Well, and I have lived for years with the shame of knowing the genetic consequences of my ADHD. That, "Oh my gosh, I hope it’s easier for them than it was for me," that kind of thing. And to see that the adaptations and the awareness and the way we spoke of ADHD in our house during all those years from being a new parent through the hard elementary school, middle school, high school period, that we’ve graduated into a new kind of relationship, both with each other and with our ADHD has been really something to… I think, be proud of. I’m really proud of the way we talk about it. And I think that’s something to look forward to. If you’re able to take care of yourself and do the things we’ve been talking about for the last half hour, there is something to look forward to. I got a second kid that I’m ready to ruin those. All bets are off, who knows what I’m going to do next.
Marcy Caldwell: I love that exchange too. And Nikki, I so agree that the lack of shame there is what so spoke to me. And as you said, Pete, the understanding of "This is my brain and I know what it is and I’m not judging it. And I also know how to respond to it." And that is exactly what we want. And that is such a gift that really only… So a non ADHD parent who understands ADHD can help give that. But to have that communal experience and to be able to feel so seen, just like innately seen and felt by another person, I think so many people with ADHD walk around in these little silos of shame and don’t get that benefit. And as you said, this is a thing that ADHD parents can give to their ADHD kids that nobody else really can.
Pete Wright: Hallelujah. That’s something I got.
Marcy Caldwell: That’s great. All right. Great way to end. So positive. I love it
Pete Wright: Marcy, thank you so much as always for coming back for going away and weathering the pandemic and then coming back to share more stories with us. We’ve missed you. Thank you so much for being here.
Marcy Caldwell: You’re all welcome.
Pete Wright: Where would you like to send people to learn more about you and the work that you do?
Marcy Caldwell: Sure. I have a blog and digital resource at addept, A D D E P T, .org. And you can also find more about my practice written house psychological services at writtenhousepsych.com.
Pete Wright: We will put links in the show notes. Marcy Caldwell, thank you so much for your participation here. Thank you everyone for downloading and listening to this show. We appreciate your time and your attention. Don’t forget, if you have something to contribute about this conversation, we’re going to be in the show talk channel in Discord, and you can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level or better, on behalf of Marcy Caldwell and Vicky Kinser. I’m Pete Wright. And we’ll see you back here next season. That’s right. We’re taking a little break. This is the last episode of season 24. We’ll be back for season 25 of The ADHD Podcast after our July hiatus. Don’t not subscribe. We’ll see you next month. Bye, everybody.