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No Consequences for Bad Behavior?

Hi.  I just read this article on ADDitude Mag about a mother who does not punish her ADHD son for bad behavior because he can’t help it: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/9894.html.  The gist of the article is that her son’s behavior got so much better because she doesn’t punish him. 

I can understand how this works for kids, but what about ADHD spouses?  My husband says me asking him to stop his bad behavior (screaming, swearing, etc.) is like asking a paraplegic to walk. He says he can’t help his adult tantrums.  Is the best thing to do just walk away?  What if I can’t get away?

My other big issue with my husband is that he never apologizes for his bad behavior.  He just blames me. I’m trying to understand this characteristic of ADHD.  He says apologizing for his behavior is like apologizing for who he is.

I posted this question in the Couples with one ADHD Partner board, but the responses I got were very angry and judgmental and not very helpful.  I’m posting here because my experience with this group is much more full of compassion and grace.  We all need grace.

If you look up my past posts on this board, you will know that I separated from my husband a couple of years ago and that we both worked very hard to reconcile.  I don’t want to give the impression I’m a pushover for his bad behavior, because I don’t think I am.  Still, it’s difficult to deal with and I’m doing my best to understand his ADHD with compassion.

Replies

I feel equally condemned by my husband and his family.  It is a constand battle.  To me dr. Lehmans words “there is NO exscuse for abuse” apply.  It may be harder for an adhd person to see what is appropriate, but as an adult they still have an obligation to behave in a respectful way.  It is a defensive response to blame the other person to get the feelings of failure off of him.  The need to broaden his vision still exists.  He can not be a bully and blame adhd and still be in a relationship that is healthy.  A deaf person has to learn to adapt in a verbal world. A blind person has to aquire a guide dog or skills to move in a world that is visual for everyone else.  So must we ALL learn to overcome our individual lack to function in a healthy way with others. 

I too filed for divorce but did not finish.  My husband fought against the divorce.  I told him he was then choosing to learn how to be healthy in our relationship.  He either gets to be in and get humble and overcome his limitations with meds & counciling our get out himself.  There is no excuse for avoiding the tention of learning and growing. We all have things to overcome.  There is no excuse for abuse.  There is no healing in blame.  There never will be.  It is a problem that must be adressed by the individual. 

His adhd means we can give grace for understanding the difficulty.  Its is the same for the grace I need for learning how to communicate with others because I was an only child.  I still need to get out of my own selfishness and learn the skills to be relational and nice to others.  My spouse knowing I was an only child helps him have forgiveness and give me loving correction but I still can not throw temper tantrums and have a healthy relationship.  I must lead myself to oversome my selfishness.  I must not blame my spouse.  Neither one of us have the right to be selfish or mean or abusive.  Never.

This view will not be popular with the adhd-ers but just know that everyone of us will never change until the pain of avoiding our own change is worse than staying the same.  If we keep covering for the bad behavior of others we delay their learning.  It is codependent. 

I recommend the books ‘boundries’ and ‘how to forgive when you don’t feel like it’ and especially Keith crafts book: ‘Your divine fingerprint’ to get yourself to a better place.  Couples counciling long term with a trained adhd counciler is a must.  If he can not get on board with self improvement then that is his choice.  He also has to live with the results of that choice.  We must stop rescuing them from being abusive.

As I look back to raising my own adhd kids I wish I had not seen the bad behavior as needing correction but re-direction. Different training.  To use the wonderful gift of energy and joy in the better ways than destructive ways.  It is best done from a place of wisdom abt the condition, but the boundries and life structure must be still given for my kids to function in the world.  There is no “iget a pass mr boss, I have adhd” card in life.  If that make ppl with adhd angry it is because they are avoiding the truth of that in their own lives. That is real. Blessings and good luck to all.

Posted by Nancie on Apr 08, 2014 at 3:28pm

Great wisdom from Nancie.  I agree, even being the ADD spouse.  It’s kind of like when I told my ADHD son, it doesn’t matter if you have ADHD, you still have to get your homework done.  Your husband can not go through life like a tornado, creating a path of destruction because he has ADHD.  I can not be late to work every day because I have ADD.  ADD and ADHD make it very difficult to make these better choices.  Sometimes we can’t see how to do something right.  It is still necessary to choose what we know is right.  Someone who cares about us, as Nancie said, providing not correction but re-direction or different training is a great advantage.  Now when we recognize that and are willing to join in, then we move forward and life gets better.

Posted by whizinc on Apr 08, 2014 at 10:57pm

Would he consider going on medication?  Or is he already taking it?

Posted by staypositive on Apr 09, 2014 at 4:32pm

Would he consider a Life Coach or something like that?

It seems to me that he is stuck in a pattern. If A happens, then he will respond by doing B, C and D every single time.

I think that he needs help breaking that pattern. You and he cannot do it alone.

I am ADHD and I own up to my shortcomings. That has never ever been an issue to blame someone else for my poor behavior.

I don’t know that a “regular” psychologist or therapist would help. In my opinion, I would try to find someone who specializes in Adult ADHD.

Posted by chrisd on May 12, 2014 at 5:41am

ADDers an those who deal with them know that there are always consequences for what they do.  Many of them have found out the hard way.

Nancie brought up so many good points.

A child should never be allowed to run amok whether the problems are due to ADD/ADHD or just bad behavior.  Left like that, they will be in for some very rude awakenings as an adult.

I have ADD “Inattentive” and my parents did not allow me to behave badly at home or in public.  When I was raising my sister’s four children, who all have ADD and each somewhat different, I applied the same methods my parents had used on me.  No, I did not like disciplining them, but they had a lot to learn and a short time to learn it. 

I observed the kids a lot.  I saw their strengths and their weaknesses.  I praised things that they did well and provided instruction and encouragement with things not done so well.  They knew that there would be consequences for behaving badly.  They also knew that good behavior was rewarded.

When adults behave badly and blame it on a medical condition, they need to be told to grow up and gain control over the problem areas in their lives.  It is apparent that some people were not properly disciplined when they were young.

When verbal abuse (or any kind of abuse) is present, it is time for something to be done about it.  If the problems continue, then separation may be the only solution while things are being corrected.  Reconciliation is a good thing, but not if the ADDer persists in blaming the condition rather than accepting the he or she has to control what they do and say.

The Bible talks about raising children.  Using the “rod” may be drastic, but to do so, one must understand the difference between “spanking” and “beating”.  A spanking does not leave lasting marks.  A beating is imposed when harm is intended.  Beating should not happen to anyone.  Spanking needs to be applied more often than many people believe it should.

A husband who verbally abuses his wife or children is not a good husband.  A wife who does those things is not a good wife.  Children who talk back to parents, or who become unruly at home or in public, need to be shown that bad behavior will not be tolerated by the parents, their schools, or their future employers. 

“God made me this way.” is a copy out.  The person saying such a thing is not facing his or her responsibility to do all that he/she can to be the kind of person God intended for them to be.  It takes those things referred to in the Bible like self-control.  Do not blame God for what mankind brought into your life.  Blame yourself for not gaining control over the problems you have.

Keep what works and just lose the rest.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Jun 20, 2014 at 6:18pm

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