Ask the Experts

Q: “When I Check Homework and Schedules, My Teen Calls Me a Nag!”

When I check homework assignments or activities in her calendar, my ADHD teen says I’m nagging. But how can I support her if I don’t know what’s going on?

Q: “Twice a week, I make my 14-year-old daughter sit down with me to show me her planner and assignments. She gets so angry when I do this. She feels like I’m nagging, but I need to know what is going on with her schoolwork and activities to plan our family calendar and to anticipate areas where she may need support. It’s a constant battle. What can I do?” – CRosen

Hi CRosen:

Your question really resonated with me. When my son (who has ADHD) was in middle school, WE would hold bi-weekly meetings. “We” is the operative word.  I presented these “meetings” to Eli as a joint-partnership, and not as a one-sided conversation. It was important to me that he felt it was as necessary to know what was going on in my week as much as I needed to know his. A level playing field you might say. And I’m thinking perhaps that’s what is missing for you.

With phones and planners in hand, we spent a few minutes at the beginning (usually Sundays) and in the middle (Wednesdays) of the week reviewing upcoming school assignments, after school activities, personal appointments, family events, etc. We went over tasks, timing, logistics, all the details and work needed to set up a schedule together.

We kept our meetings informal and light, however we included everything from upcoming tests and project dates to play rehearsals, doctors’ appointments, and weekend activities.

To avoid being a “nag,” I made sure I shared my schedule (and my husband’s) too, so he knew if I was traveling or had late evening plans. Therefore, he knew if he could count on us for a ride home from an activity, an evening study session the night before an exam, etc., or needed to make alternative plans. By approaching our time together as a joint planning session, my son never felt I was being intrusive or critical.

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Trust me when I say it took a long time to get to that point. But by constantly reminding him that he needed to know if I was available on certain days and times,  made him available to me! Those weekly meetings also allowed me to help him build time-management and planning skills (so critical for those with executive functioning challenges) by encouraging him to think forward and plan to accomplish what he needed to get done. It also provided me an opportunity to offer critical support and encouragement.

I’m not sure if you have additional children. But to make these meetings more “family-friendly,” I would often have my older daughter sit in on them as well, especially when it was an extra busy week. Although she didn’t need the support necessarily, having her present helped my son feel less like he was in the spotlight. Food for thought.

Good Luck!

Check Homework Collaboratively: Next Steps

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