Reply To: Worried about my 21-year-old son.

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Parents Teens & Young Adults Worried about my 21-year-old son. Reply To: Worried about my 21-year-old son.

Allison Russo

This reply was originally posted by user parentcoachjoyce in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

Thanks for the update!

No matter what, I think it’s so important that he feels safe enough that he can tell you anything and not fear that when he does he will lose your love. If you can keep the lines of communication open and your relationship strong, he is much more likely to come to you for advice and help before he gets into irrevocable situations.

In terms of “enabling”, I think that word gets thrown a lot but many people don’t stop to think about what it means for a parent of a child with ADHD, and also don’t consider how the definition can change depending on the age of the child.

One dictionary definition I saw defines an enabler as:

“One who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior”

There’s a big difference between understanding what behaviors are to be expected with ADHD (so you can help make sure your child gets appropriate accommodations in school and has access to the tools and techniques he will need in life to deal with his symptoms) VERSUS using ADHD as an acceptable “excuse” for bad behavior and either looking the other way, avoiding the situation or not holding him accountable.

Likewise, there is a big difference between not WANTING your child to experience a dire consequence VERSUS taking action and getting involved and doing whatever is necessary to intervene/rescue/bail out in order to keep him from having to experience a consequence.

I know that sometimes it’s a very fine line between helping and enabling. But I think one way to stay on the right side of the line is to make sure you stay in the role of advisor and consultant rather than rescuer.

I wish you all the best.

Joyce Mabe
Parent Coach, Licensed school counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD.