Reply To: No Passion No Energy No Care

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Of course, like others suggest, do what you can to get him interested in things that don’t involve a screen. I am really torn about this age group, though. On the one hand, college is so insanely expensive now. Grades, test scores, sports, volunteer stuff, passions, interests, etc. can yield serious money. Student loan debt is a real problem in many ways. It seems like there’s all these amazing young people achieving amazing things and getting those ever-fewer scholarship dollars — and then there’s our kids, who seem to exist only to make the others look so amazing by comparison.

On the other hand, my husband — the ADHD-I carrier — was a lazy slob into his early 20s. He didn’t drive until 18. He had times when he did well in college and on tests, but also plenty of others where he was mediocre or worse. After getting a job (where he sometimes had to be told to stop playing computer video games!) and applying a second time, he got into one medical school and graduated middle of the pack (undiagnosed sleep apnea too). As a middle-aged adult now, though? He’s an exceptional, award-winning primary care doctor who patients rate highly. He could have gone into a higher-paying specialty, but primary care is just who he is. Here’s a guy who was once a teenager and young man who did the minimum in school much of the time, watched WWF, played video games, and couldn’t fry an egg when we met — who now really makes a positive difference in the world and loves his profession. I’d honestly say I witnessed his brain developing through age 30, whereas I felt pretty fixed as a person since age 15-16 (though of course, I got more experiences as time went on).

The only thing my husband expressed interest in when he applied to college was a major the university he matriculated at didn’t even offer. Yes, folks, he hadn’t bothered to look and see if was offered there! He’d just assumed it would be. Talk about executive function deficit.

My husband definitely had some advantages, though. College wasn’t as expensive back then, so his parents could pay for it after he got some work-study grants. His mom cleaned up after him a lot. Then, when I met him, I did a lot of care-taking. His family was one with educated hard-workers, so he had that as a role model. He did work sometimes, and sometimes he showed real potential — and the instances of hard work and showing potential grew more and more each year through his teens and 20s. I’m not trying to imply any so-called lazy, unmotivated teen or young man with ADHD can surprise the world by pulling himself up by his bootstraps when he’s matured enough to do so, and without any help. My husband had help. And I imagine it’s even harder nowadays that post-college jobs are harder to find, college debt can be crippling, and there’s more college grads competing for fewer grad school/professional school slots and jobs. But I am saying that no one would have expected my husband to do as well as he has. He’s as surprised as anyone that, compared with all the kids he remembers as being so much smarter and more talented and motivated, he’s the most “successful,” whether by conventional or altruistic measures. I think the fact he felt like an underdog compared with the amazing kids is one reason why he’s so compassionate and caring with patients, even those who other docs don’t want to deal with. He’s also a really good father and husband.

So, nag away. Tell your son what’s right and how he should be. But don’t stop helping him out, understanding when he lets you down that he has a real disability he’s dealing with, and believing he is just taking a longer time to mature than other kids and will peak — perhaps higher than the others now getting great grades and playing amazing baseball — in his own time. As for worrying about college costs and scholarships, though? Well, I myself haven’t learned to cope with that reality, so I can’t help there, unfortunately.