with Linnea LoPresti
About Linnea LoPresti:
Working as a clinical social worker for over thirty years, Linnea helps both adults and children with ADHD and other neuro-biological issues.
Both Linnea and her daughter Sarah have ADHD; Linnea was actually diagnosed alongside her daughter.
Linnea will soon be presenting the “Courageous Parenting Series,” covering topics including managing fears as a parent, and managing one’s own ADHD alongside their child’s.
Shame and Character Flaws:
Linnea presented recently on the topic of what it feels like to have ADHD and about how many people who are diagnosed with the disorder are simply handed their diagnosis, a prescription for medication, and sent on their way without much in the way of guidance or understanding.
A common issue Linnea sees is that while most with ADHD are aware of its attention-related symptoms, fewer connect other symptoms to the diagnosis, instead just thinking that they’re character flaws.
Linnea: “When we see it as connected to the diagnosis, we can do something about it. But, if we see it as simply a character flaw, it just assaults our self-esteem and there’s very little we can do about that.”
In particular, up until her daughter being diagnosed with ADHD, Linnea had mostly tried to manage her own ADHD by herself. When Linnea needed help with the diagnosis, she realized she had been resistant to help from others before.
Eric cites Brené Brown’s idea that shame grows in secrecy.
For many of her clients, Linnea sees that shame is often a larger problem for them than what they originally came to her for. Overcoming the shame first enables them to then tackle the rest of the problem.
Some people, out of shame and stubbornness, will continue to struggle against tasks they think they should be able to manage. Instead, they should thinking about what ways are best to spend their time and energy.
“How much energy do we want to put into something that isn’t going to impact us positively in some way?”
Responsibility and Mindset:
Linnea would tell her daughter “It is not your fault that you have this, but it is your responsibility to manage it.”
Not diagnosed with ADHD until her forties, Linne had suspected she might have had it for a while. The confirmation made her realize that while she had previously had the knowledge of having ADHD, she hadn’t yet dealt with the emotional impact of it.
Linnea: When he own and understand our ADHD, it doesn’t have to impact our lives as a handicap.
“I think that therapy does not change us. It helps us accept responsibility for who we are and play to our strengths and accept out weaknesses.”
One strength Linnea attributes to her having to deal with ADHD is that she rarely approaches problems from the same way as others and instead views them from many angles.
Eric mentions listening to the book Mindset, which discusses the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is one where people will view the world in an expanded view, a view of “there is a way to do this; I just have to find it”.
Linnea: Curiosity and acceptance are so much more productive than judgment.
Oftentimes, those with ADHD can lose perspective and think that the mistakes they make reflect especially poorly on them, when in reality, many others make mistakes just the same and those mistakes don’t define them.
“Other people actually also forget things sometimes, and other people also make mistakes sometimes.”
Neither mistakes nor successes define people. While productivity is important, the emotions tied into that productivity are even more important.
When Linnea was younger, before she was diagnosed with ADHD, others considered her not smart enough for college. That lead her to drive even harder to finish college just to prove them wrong. However, despite earning A’s in many courses, she had a hard time accepting her accomplishments, even going so far as to question the competency of the professors grading her.
“Until we believe in ourselves internally, no matter how hard we try to prove that we are okay, it’s never going to work. […] No matter what evidence we get, we find a way to diminish it.”
For Eric, sharing his shame and struggles with others makes it easier for him to move forward and return back on track.
Linnea will talk with her daughter and the two of them will relay stories of their ADHD “moments” and do so in a completely non-judgmental way. For both of them, it’s a safe place to discuss their thoughts.
It was important for Linnea, when raising her daughter, to own her ADHD and be able to admit that it was hard for her as well. Showing her daughter that, despite the ADHD, she had been successful and that life had worked out for her was a way to give her daughter hope.
Linnea’s daughter would come home from school and say “Mom, as soon as I get home, I know you get it.” Whether it’s to friends, family, or a therapist, it’s important to be able to share with each other what it feels like to have ADHD.
Parenting with ADHD:
Even at a young age, Linnea’s daughter Sarah showed signs that she was struggling.
Initially, Linnea took an approach of trying to help her Sarah manage her ADHD without external help and while following Linnea’s systems.
One night during her fourth grade year, Sarah said “I’m lying here wondering how I’m going to screw up tomorrow, what I’m going to forget, how I’m going to embarrass myself.”
Linnea realized she had imposed her system onto Sarah; unless she could deal with her own feelings, she wouldn’t be able to raise her daughter to be proud of herself, her accomplishments, and not ashamed of her difficulties.
Though she went through challenging times raising her daughter alongside ADHD, Linnea feels the payoff for all the hard work is in how good their relationship is now.
The Courageous Parenting Series [PDF] is a series of three-hour workshop held at The Arlington Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Each workshop will hold fifteen people maximum.
While participation is not necessary, if someone would like to share their experiences, they are welcome.
Topic covered include :
What frightens us?
How do we manage our fears?
How to really protect our children
How to teach our children to protect themselves
While working with a parent, Linnea was asked what she thought the most difficult part of parenting was. She responded: “managing the fear”.
Sometimes Linnea will hear from children with ADHD that they feel their parent loves another sibling without ADHD more. Linnea thinks the cause of this can be attributed to parental fear; parents may tend to be more fearful of children with ADHD, which could then lead them to be more controlling, overbearing, and potentially angry.
During sessions, Linnea will sometimes see parents furious with their child, but when the child realizes that their parent is concerned about them and fearful, they respond very well.
When parents realize what they fear and take steps to manage it in a way that helps them relate to their children, it can help build better relationships, protect them, and also provide them with more freedom through peace of mind.
Worried her infant daughter might have problems breathing, Linnea took steps to ease her worry by being proactive – she took CPR classes, studied material, and more.
Linnea focused on what she had control over and could act on while letting go of the rest. As long as she applied 100% of her effort into making her child’s life as good as it could be.
Linnea: Anger, by its definition, is a defense against fear and pain. So, if I’m enraged, I’ll usually take a step back and try to figure out what it is that’s scaring me, what I have control over, and what I don’t. Then I try to focus my energy on what I do have control over.
It’s important to talk to your kids and take ownership of your anger when it happens. When we’re angry and directing it at our kids, it’s often because they’re making us feel what we don’t want to feel.
If a parent can look at their child and explain to them the source of their anger or say “I’m scared for you,” it
Failure and Perfection:
Children need to know they can fail so that when they encounter distressing feelings they know how to handle them and move forward.
“Too often, I think, when people get removed from every situation that evokes feeling, they don’t learn to manage their feelings, they don’t learn to accept their feelings.”
Eric: Of course, it’s joyous for us as parents to see our kids happy, but if that’s our only goal, we’re going to be constantly banging our heads against the wall. I’d rather see my kid fail, problem-solve, and try again. Research on happiness shows it comes through overcoming challenges.
The younger people are when they learn those lessons and experience challenges, the more resilient they become later in life.
Linnea’s daughter Anna at one point thought that if she were perfect enough that she would no longer be anxious. “That’ll never work. You’ll never be perfect enough to change your neurobiology. […] It’s about how you’re going to feel if you’re not perfect.”
Products, Services, and Other Links:
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
The Courageous Parenting Series pamphlet, PDF
ADHD From the Inside Out pamphlet, PDF
Random Question Round:
What unique invention would you like to see made or improved upon?
Table Topics: Right or Wrong Edition
Is justice or mercy more important?
What personal quality would you like to improve?
If you loved your job but found out your company was dumping toxic waste into a river, what would you do?
Did you ever cheat in school?
Find and Contact Linna LoPresti:
Eric has set September 14th as the start date of the Fall 2015 session of the ADHD reWired Coaching and Accountability Group. If you are interested in reserving a spot in the group, visit coachingrewired.com.
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Help CHADD, an ADHD organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through useful research and support, by donating to their fundraising campaign here: gofundme.com/oneof15m.
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