No, I have not read the book 50 Shades of Grey. Nor am I one of the millions who helped to set box office records on its opening weekend. If you are, there’s no judgement here. I only mention this record-breaking phenomenon because, let’s face it, it garners attention, and because it’s title is a great analogy on the infinite shades of grey involved in parenting a child with ADHD or autism.

Let’s think of the shades of grey as a spectrum of that color. There’s super-light grey and super-dark grey, and every shade in between.

shades of grey

You can equate this to the spectrum of ADHD — kids with mild ADHD have a little grey and kids with very severe ADHD have a whole lot of grey. And, being their parent comes with a lot of grey areas.

Which is ironic, since my moderately dark-grey kiddo is the most black and white, concrete thinker I know.

I can think of lots of grey areas in parenting kids with ADHD:

  • Medication
  • Alternative treatments
  • When behavior is willful versus when it’s part of ADHD
  • Lacking motivation as a character flaw, or as part of ADHD?
  • Defining ADHD and it’s symptoms
  •  Describing “typical” ADHD behavior
  • Knowing the right level of punishment
  • Comorbid conditions
  • Meltdowns
  • Etc.

I feel like I live a life of grey (which can be it’s own analogy too, but I won’t chase that rabbit just now). Am I giving my son the right medication? Enough Medication? Too much medication? Have we tried everything for him? Do I have him in the right school? Can’t the school be doing more for him? I need to tell his teachers not to tell him to ‘try harder.’ How much do I intervene in his social struggles? Am I a bad mom for letting him have processed ‘kid’ food sometimes? Do I let him have too much screen time?…

I could get swept up in a cyclone of greys and thrown into an abyss. {sigh}

It’s all grey when definitive answers and concrete guidelines don’t exist (which is totally ADHD). I even wrote the first step-by-step guide on parenting a child with ADHD, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, and, I’ll admit, it’s not a detailed guide for every child, because every child with ADHD is a different shade of grey. But it is a great guide for common ADHD traits and parenting kids whose lives are full of shades of grey (hey, I should have spoofed that title instead for my own book).

Author: Penny Williams

Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD: Boy Without Instructions, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, and The Insider’s Guide to ADHD Penny is the current editor of ParentingADHDandAutism.com, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.