Adulting and PDA

By Brook Madera of No Pressure PDA

At the 2024 PDA North America Conference this year I did a breakout group session with co-host PJ Starling on the topic of PDA and adulting. Early in it became clear that the audience concerns were around 1) whether or not people with older children could expect their PDA child to “adult” with success, and 2) adult PDA people in the room who were struggling to find their way after many failures to launch.

What I appreciated about our talk was that both PJ and I could be honest that we are in the process of figuring it out.

For myself, this is in large part why I put so much focus on parenting PDA children because the resounding message is that unsupported PDA leads to too many confusing struggles into adulthood. I heard at least one story from a family at the conference who lost the life of a loved one due to their likely unsupported-PDA transitioning into adulting, and I know this sadly isn’t unique.

PJ’s portion of our talk highlighted how typically government education is intended to be a place for children to grow into functioning adults, but that there are many ways that the effort fails those of us who are PDA. Once we are past primary education our struggles only get more pronounced as we enter the workforce with a patchwork of temporary fixes around sensory needs, disability blindspots, and misunderstandings interpreting workplace expectations and hierarchy.

These blindspots extend into our personal life. On my end I shared that it often felt like I was moving through emotional static. I couldn’t find a sense of the peaks and valleys that make up the interpersonal landscape. My emotions were constantly in a state of alarm due to masking my feelings for the sake of group peace, so when I later found myself in an abusive dynamic it took far too long for the danger to register.

Both PJ and myself were able to share that we are in a deconstruction era and attempt to bring the lessons we learn about ourselves to others so they can move forward swifter and more safely.

The last portion of the talk I shared my challenges with parenting three PDA children from home and the ways I have to “hack” myself so that we can function as a unit without freezing or blowing up. The main concepts of my talk were to validate that I feel what I feel for a reason; that even if my feelings are telling my untruths that they deserve to be heard. That as a parent I can’t always put my needs first but that my needs do matter. When I get time to myself I put my PDA first (I set aside my lists and do whatever I want in those free moments). Lastly, that I find it worthwhile to take the time to train someone trusted to share parenting with so that I can have time to myself.

As a final note, any guidance provided from this platform acknowledges we all have different privileges; not everyone can access the same level of supports. I share what I learn in the hope that if anyone can use the information their life will be just a little bit less burdened.

For PJ’s blog on this topic follow and support his Substack HERE

Follow Brook here: @nopressurepda