August 25, 2018 at 9:48 pm #92270EllivryParticipant
I’m having a difficult time getting over my 19 year old son dropping out of high school. I feel sad, angry, pissed because I don’t get to celebrate his prom, graduation, class rings, nothing. Even though he has a excellent job, owned two cars and has his own place, I feel like a failure because I couldn’t get him through. I’m so many things. Embarrassed, torn, broken hearted, everything but proud of what he has achieved. What’s wrong? How do I accept?
Please help me
August 25, 2018 at 11:21 pm #92274deb91Participant
I think that’s something many parents of neurodiverse kids face. All those milestones society places so much importance on are not always something our kids will take part in. It’s not unusual to grieve that. But remember that your dreams for him may never have been his dreams for himself. I love that poem by Kahlil Gibran “On Children” that expresses this very sentiment. And even if he didn’t get through high school, he can always get his GED later. He’s still so young. Who knows what the future holds for him? Celebrate his independent spirit. I’m so impressed that he is on his own at 19! That is something to be proud of!
August 26, 2018 at 11:48 am #92283ADDsuccessParticipant
Don’t be my MOM! My mom still called me her little “dropout” until a few years ago at an awards banquet in which I was receiving an award for Volunteer of the Year. Somehow, she felt the same way you did all of these years, like I let her down because I dropped out in 9th grade. My wonderful husband told her that if she could not recognize me for what I have become rather than what “she” missed out on, then she could leave and not come back. Its sad, but her hangups have kept her from enjoying the person I truly am.
What she failed to mention was that although I dropped out in 9th grade, I started community college that same year. I moved out at 17 and never did she have to pay my rent or my college for that matter. I tried many things and failed at some, but found my success and graduated with honors with my Bachelors in Speech Pathology (Yep, I was the 1st of 4 children to complete 4 years). I continued my advanced education as well as earned my Special Education Teaching Certification. After college, I also skipped out on the traditional wedding thing too and we eloped one weekend while on the back of his motorcycle. Oh yeah, Im a rebel, all the way! I had a great career as a Speech Therapist and then once my first child got to school (actually 2nd grade) and I saw myself when they called me in to the “meeting” to talk about how he was struggling to pay attention, we decided I needed to homeschool him. We actually had made some very good decisions together and actually my spontaneity (real estate investing) and ability to think outside the box has allowed us to actually get to a point now of financial freedom. Yep, we are debt free with one earner income. I have now been married for over 20 years to that motorcycle guy and have two wonderful children, one in 10th grade and the other in 6th. I am still homeschooling. My son has goals of going into the PROM (yes, a homeschool prom!) this year, but attending a Military Academy. He is different than I in some ways- he is not a rebel WITHOUT a cause. I have taught both of my children from a very young age that we all learn differently and no matter what choices you make, I will always be your mom and love you unconditionally!
I’m now 47 and we are 5 years away from his RETIREMENT (from his real job)! I will always be a teacher of some kind, not for the money either. I love helping others who feel trapped inside this one-way of doing things world.
August 27, 2018 at 8:57 am #92320Penny WilliamsKeymaster
You DID get him through. Because of you, he chose a tough path that he felt was right for him and it paid off. Was it a traditional education with the “normal” milestones? No, but that’s ok. The fact that he is 19 and holding down a job and living on his own successfully is HUGE. Way ahead of most kids his age with ADHD. Way. Ahead.
Find a way to show him how proud you are of his accomplishments. Tell him that you recognize his achievements, despite the fact that it wasn’t the path you hoped he’d take. Tell him how proud you are that he took a risk and followed what he felt was best for him and found success because of it.
And, let yourself grieve for prom, graduation, class rings. It’s ok to grieve the loss of the parenthood you dreamed of… as long as you don’t get stuck there.
You’re anything but a failure! 🙂
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
August 28, 2018 at 2:41 pm #92427simpsonpParticipant
I know exactly how your feel. My son dropped out of high school when he was 17. I had been called to the office so many times, and he clearly was not motivated to attend. I’ll never forget the day when we were sitting in his principal’s office, and I looked at him and said: “This is your decision. Of course I dreamed of watching you walk across the stage, and I know you are more than capable. However, if this is not your dream, then I’m ok with that. The only thing I suggest is that you get your GED”. And he got up from the table and told the principal: “I’m out”.
One of the hardest things as a parent is to accept the fact that we raise individuals who have their own mind and their own choices to make in life. And status quo is not for everyone. But don’t let this make you feel guilty that you failed. Celebrate your child’s differences and help them find a place to channel their energy that will suit them! Be proud of his independence, and accept your part in helping to create that!
You know, 10 years from now, you wouldn’t remember the details of the prom, you saved yourself money on the class ring which he probably wouldn’t wear that long, and if anyone thinks less of you or him for his decision, then that is their issue. Not his or yours. You didn’t fail him at all! Sounds like you raised a very strong independent young adult who just wants to go down a non-traditional path. Walk with him! Who knows where it may lead!!
September 17, 2018 at 10:21 am #99362cheerfuldomParticipant
I think it’s up to you to redefine success. Many people define success as graduation, college, and typical social milestones. If you can remind yourself that success is someone finding happiness, safety and security and the other things that your son has found, this situation will resolve itself. The problem is really your own perspective, not anything he has or has not done. For your whole life, you have accepted messages about what success is and is not so now you will have to put in the same amount of time to tear down those myths. Talk to a counselor if you think you need extra support. Every time a negative thought about his life pops up in your mind, challenge it. Mantras can be very powerful things!
Also, give yourself the time to work through this. We’re all humans with our own weaknesses. You aren’t a bad person to be struggling with this. You are on the right path to be recognizing this as a problem.
September 17, 2018 at 2:59 pm #99431dianne1Participant
Yes, it can be challenging to parent a child with special needs, but the flip side, it is a HUGE PROUD MOMMA MOMENT when you can say your son is successful without the making it through high school or college. He is one of those successful people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, or Brad Pitt. CONGRATULATIONS to him for making it using skills that are outside the box. Celebrate his achievements. What you are experiencing is the emotional grieving process of those parents with special needs children. You had dreams of your child before he was born and disability shatters those dreams. Infinite loss, or the loss of a dream, is much different to deal with then a nonfinite loss (a death). With infinite loss, your grief is for a loss dream. It may be time to start making new dreams, one that includes the success of your son and what the future holds for him and his and your families.
September 18, 2018 at 11:42 am #99524johno_slcParticipant
Hi Ellivry, as a parent of 2 ADD young adults, and having adult ADD myself, I think I can see this from both perspectives. However, throw away the ADD subject in general and ask yourself: what do you value as a parent and as a member of society? As much as I would like all my kids to earn PhD’s (you can tell I like education), I realized I’ve done my job and I’ll be satisfied if I’ve raise responsible adults who contribute to society in a positive way and who raise their own families with love. My eldest ADD son is tenaciously persistent – he’s dropped to 9 credit hours per semester in order to work and pass his classes, so he’s taking a slow approach. My youngest took a “gap year” and has started this semester and, to my knowledge, is attending maybe 50% of his classes. He’s not likely to succeed this year and that’s OK. He needs to learn and has made it remarkably clear to all of us that he wants to learn by experience (rather than wisdom). What I worry about most with him is that he continues to be dishonest with me, others, and himself. So while I worry about both (well, about all six of our kids), I feel I’ve not yet succeeded with my youngest. I love him to death – when he pays attention to someone other than himself, he’s hilarious, kind, loving–he’d give the shirt off his back.
Anyhow, I’d recommend you step back and decide what your definition of success is as a parent, and then let that drive your self-worth. Raising an ADD kid is a huge challenge, and if one thing is certain it’s that they’re not going to fit into our paradigms. That doesn’t make them bad, failure or anything else – it just makes them different.
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