by Leighsa Binkley, Whole30 Certified Coach, who shares about her son’s ADHD diagnosis.

It’s an accomplishment for a mom to have her youngest child reach adulthood, although I know I will always be Mom to both of my boys, ages 30 and almost 21. The phone calls and texts never stop, asking questions, sharing photos, and asking if I can do something for them that truly, they are more than capable of doing. Maybe because I take care of it, they can still feel like a little boy for a moment. Being at this part of my journey as a mom, there are things I would do a bit differently, knowing what I know now and how my boys progressed to becoming adults.

Eating healthier meals and snacks can make a difference

Our older son did well academically in school, but our younger son had his struggles. He was diagnosed with ADHD in the third grade. Knowing what I do now about food, I would definitely have changed my cooking habits and both of their lunch selections each day. My younger son is now a much more conscious eater and I know it helps with his attention level.

On a related note, we had some disagreements with my mom and my mother-in-law about food. Visiting and staying with grandparents is so special! My boys have such awesome memories about their grandparents. Many times though, my attempts at enforcing healthy eating were overruled during our times at their homes. It’s a fine line to pick that battle, and most of the time it was minimal. Both grandmothers cooked wonderful meals, but the free range of unhealthy snacks while our boys were there bothered me. I wish I would have been more mindful about what the boys consumed.

Want advice on how to deal with grandparents undermining your food choices? Click to read.

No one knows your child better than YOU

Administrators, teachers, other parents…they all will give you every opinion about your child when you are not around. There is a fine line between mentors and meddlers. Pay attention to who truly has your child’s best interest at heart and who is tempted to label your child. Both boys had some fantastic teachers, each one even had the opportunity to have a couple of my elementary and high school teachers along the way! That’s such a wonderful thing to share.

We also had a couple of teachers who we felt tried to break my sons down–and us as their parents. When your child discusses how their day went, pay close attention. Don’t ever hesitate to request conferences with teachers and administrators. If everyone is on the same page, small obstacles can keep from turning into large ones.

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Your child’s healthcare provider is almost as important as you are as their parent

If you do not have a great relationship with your child’s physician, find a different one. 

At first, we chose for my younger son to go to the same primary doctor that our whole family saw. When he was formally diagnosed with ADHD in the third grade, various healthcare professionals told us that he needed to be monitored by a psychiatrist, not his primary doctor.  So every month, we faithfully attended appointments, to track his progress and receive his prescription. Our primary care physician never worked together with the psychiatrist regarding my son’s ADHD diagnosis.  

When my son was in fifth grade, we had a scary situation with a spider bite, and I was very unhappy with how our primary care physician handled the situation. At that point we switched my son into the care of a pediatrician. She was a family friend as well, so I felt that I could relate to her on a “mom” level and we could all feel more comfortable with her care. In hindsight, it was the BEST decision for his well being we could have made for him. When we made this change, he did not continue his visits to the psychiatrist. 

Need help advocating for your family’s health? Read 5 tips from a doctor.

Get a second opinion with any ADHD diagnosis or any other type of learning challenge

Our younger son’s school journey was a hard one for him. His average was never higher than a C. His struggles started in kindergarten, when his teacher “thought” he might have ADHD. In first grade we had him tested for the first time, and he was diagnosed in third grade. We still question the process and the path. At the third grade picnic for the end of the school year, while catching up with many of the other moms and dads, we realized over 11 kids had been diagnosed with either ADHD or ADD, out of a class of 64.

The medications, the monthly psychiatrist appointments, the weight loss–it was so hard on him, and on us. We had an advocate in his school nurse who discussed with his teachers that these medications could stunt his growth at his age. We rode this roller coaster until 6th grade and decided to take him off the medications. The focusing issues were no different; the grades were the same. We continued this every school year until his sophomore year, when we decided to homeschool until graduation. It was the best thing we could have ever done for him.

No matter what, we always can learn from the journey

My son found his passion in the outdoors and whitewater kayaking. He was able to complete his schoolwork each morning, then spend the rest of the day kayaking. After graduation, he traveled to work in Colorado as a raft guide. He has traveled all over the country and Canada, enjoying his dream and is now preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail this year, from Maine to Georgia.

I think, looking back, we learn so much from our mistakes as parents, but if we can realize that some mistakes need to happen, then our children will be more prepared when they become adults. Looking back, I know that we were all doing the best we could with some difficult situations and decisions.


Leighsa Binkley is a Nashville native, who is transitioning to the Rock Island/Walling area of the Cumberland Plateau. She and her husband John operate a vacation cottage rental business, which has her enjoying the outdoors on a daily basis. Embracing her motto of “growing older as gracefully as I can”, she found Whole30 in 2018 and wanted to learn as much as possible, which led her to apply to the Coaching Program. Sharing the basics and foundation of Whole30 are her goals as a Certified Coach. Connect with Leighsa on Instagram.