January 7, 2019 at 4:04 pm #106349
I want to begin with the fact that I LOVE my son. He is kind, gentle, generous and generally loving. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt that he loves me with all his heart. But he can be difficult and he can make parenting miserable at times. He is grown but has the maturity of a teenager.
I’m the single parent of a 21 year old with ADD. He was diagnosed at 8. As I understand ADD, people with it mature at a slower rate. Although he is 20, he is actually acting like a 15 or 16 year old stubborn teenager. He tried college but the lecture style teaching was torture for him and he failed. He is now trying to get into a trade school and is on the waiting list. In the interim, he is working as a caterer. He likes the work but it can be inconsistent. While he is home he plays video games and stays in his room. Cleaning it takes an act of God. At times, which seem to be more and more frequent, he can be insensitive and rude.
Yesterday, I wanted to talk to him about a family vacation I was thinking of taking and wanted his opinion. His younger sister and I were trying to decide between 2 countries and I wanted to know what he preferred. He was too busy with his games to talk to us. He did not know what we wanted to talk about or he would have sat down with us. If it benefits him, he is all in. But if he doesn’t see a benefit for him, then he is less enthusiastic about anything. So, I’ve decided that his sister and I will travel without him since he is too busy to participate in the conversation. However, he did manage to find time to ask me for $5 later in the evening so he could buy some chips at the store. When I mentioned that when I wanted to talk to him, he didn’t have time but miraculously found time to talk to me when he needed something. A pattern that is all too familiar. Even when I told him how hurtful it is when he does these things, he apologizes but doesn’t seem to learn from it.
BTW, he will not be taking a vacation with his sister and I. While he doesn’t seem to learn from previous behavior, he still has to deal with the consequences.
Does anyone else have an older ADD child with whom they live? Can they relate to this situation? If so, how do you deal with it?
January 7, 2019 at 5:26 pm #106357BertParticipant
We don’t know him, but do you think it is safe to leave someone who is basically 15 or 16 (behaviorally) alone for an extended time? We can be frustrating to know, but you can’t retaliate… Well, you CAN, but is it going to help?
I’ve never had video games to escape into, but I have listened to CDs and not heard a smoke detector through a floor and several walls. Even watching tv might be enough to “drown out” sound to try to forget any bad feelings he’s having about himself and the world.
I guess I’d try… oh, never mind. If I were him I’d feel lost and guilty for not being a better kid. If he felt more empowered to learn life skills he’ll be a better student and employee. Is there anywhere near you that he can go, even a library if there isn’t a vocational type counselor?
What I was going to say, for an more immediate impact… Maybe he thinks a family meeting is about or will dissolve into an attack against him. (I probably wouldn’t feel “safe”.) So, maybe try leaving a pleasant-looking note on his door: “Hi Billy, We are having a meeting about going on vacation this summer. I’d really like your input! Staying home alone won’t be an option, so please come upstairs around 5:30. Luv, Momster.” If he doesn’t show up, move the meeting to the floor outside his door…
January 7, 2019 at 6:14 pm #106362BoomerParticipant
I can relate to everything you’re saying, including how much you love your son (and he loves you). Our 15 year old daughter (maturity level 13ish) acts exactly the same way. Especially frustrating when I need to talk to her about items to bring to events etc., she blows me off, then forgets to bring things. Of course I am then blamed for the forgotten items.I agree with the other responder, write notes! Leave him info on notes, asking him to see you for discussions etc. I wouldn’t use a vacation as a consequence, that is quality time he can spend with you. I always use things that I don’t want to have my daughter doing anyways, as consequences, such as no non nutritious snacks for a week, limited electronics, etc. Of course, you have to adjust consequences based on your sons age…and what would motivate him.
January 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm #106369
Thanks Boomer and Bert!! I’m new to this forum and need a lot of advice. There is so much advice for parents of young children with ADD but not for parents of young adults. I’m actually in counseling for a lot of the issues I encounter with him which is how I found this online publication. I think you’re right about the family vacation. I tell my kids often that vacations are not promised because as a single mom, money is always a concern. I try to give them as many experiences as I can because the next vacation is never a guarantee. That being said, I will take him with us but he has lost the opportunity for input.
I like the idea of notes on his door. More specifically on his TV because I have a whiteboard in his room and in the kitchen where I leave him notes and he still claims to miss them. He will even claim to miss my text reminders (I know he is lying). Most likely, he put it off and then forgot like Boomer’s daughter.
I read an article in ADDitude that said that ADD individuals don’t fully mature until about 35 or 40. I was looking for information and encouragement for my adult son with ADD. I was crushed. Do I have the stamina to deal with his immaturity for another 15 to 20 years? It brought me to tears. At this point, he is incapable of living alone or moving out. He cannot manage money or defer any gratifications so that he can plan for tomorrow. He lives in THIS MOMENT, RIGHT NOW!! Tomorrow is not a consideration. All I can do is pray it will get better. I remind him often in moments of desperation that I will not be here forever and I have got to get him to a place where he can take care of himself. That is my job as his mom. But I don’t think he hears me…any more than I heard my mom when she said similar things when I was young.
Advice from anyone with older children with ADD is SOOOO appreciated. I fell like I’m as lost as he is.
January 10, 2019 at 8:38 am #106492Penny WilliamsKeymaster
Most people’s executive functions (part of brain functioning) are fully developed in their early 20’s. For those with ADHD (a developmental disorder), this doesn’t fully mature until approximately 28-30. Executive functioning is planning, organization, task initiation, transitioning from one task to another, emotional regulation, time management, etc.
The bottom line is that your current way of communicating isn’t working for either of you, so you need to try something else. The idea of writing down requests is helpful. Definitely put them where he’ll see them. And schedule family meetings instead of asking him to stop what he’s doing in an instant.
The natural consequence in this situation is that he doesn’t have input on the vacation, not that you leave him out of a family event (that sends the message that he’s not loved or wanted).
I challenge you to change the language you use to describe his behavior as well. Instead of thinking of him as “insensitive and rude,” shift your thinking. “He’s having a hard time managing his frustration right now.” or “He doesn’t mean to be rude, he doesn’t see that his behavior hurts me.” Etc…
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
January 10, 2019 at 11:07 am #106508
ADHDMomma, Thank You!! I want to tell you how much I appreciate your advice. I’m at my wits end at times but I will ALWAYS welcome advice and suggestions on how I can be and do better. So Thank you very much.
January 10, 2019 at 3:13 pm #106521BoomerParticipant
Just wanted to add that with our daughter, success is sporadic. Sometimes a communication technique or other things like eating properly by working out a menu together work at first ,then goes by the wayside, then works again. For example- using notes. About 2/3 of the time I may put a note beside her and briefly say “here’s a list of things to bring to the meet tomorrow” or “here is the housework I need you to complete tonight”, she says “ok” and eventually does the items (sometimes complaining, or saying she is not going to do them, but ends up doing them anyhow). The other 1/3 of the time, same scenario, she grabs the note from my hand, wads it up and tosses it across the room saying rudely “you do it” or other language. It does seem though that gradually she is getting “better”. Keep the faith, your son will get there eventually! It takes a lot of patience and lip-zipping. Try not to take it personally.
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