Worried about my 21-year-old son.

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    • #40019
      Penny Williams
      Keymaster

      This discussion was originally started by user fortuna33 in ADDitude’s now-retired community. The ADDitude editors have included it here to encourage more discussion.

       

      Hello, I’ve posted here previously about my 21 year old son who is ADD inattentive. We’re in an unusual situation because we are Americans living overseas… my son was born in the US but never really lived there and considers where we live now to be “home”. He finished high school here, is currently enrolled in college and will have the right to apply for citizenship this June — IF he successfully completes this year.

      It has always been extremely difficult for him to buckle down and study… I stayed on his back in high school, but we were in constant conflict and more recently I made the decision to step back.

      Here’s my big worry: he has a major project due for school in a couple of weeks. Supposedly he has been working on this since September. He had mentioned the subject to me a few weeks ago and showed me a powerpoint he was working on. Today I asked how it was going, and he opened his computer and showed me the project, beautifully formatted and ready to present — but on a completely different subject from the one he showed me earlier! He said he had changed his mind and gotten approval from the professor to change the topic. He said he had managed to get the new version done quickly by staying up late every night.

      I do not believe any of this — among other things because he has a long history of lying about schoolwork.  I think he probably found the presentation on the Internet somewhere.

      Without directly accusing him of lying, I told him that if he submitted something that wasn’t his own work, it would be detected — in which case he would be expelled from school and would lose the chance to apply for citizenship. He became extremely angry at this and said I’m a bad mother because I don’t believe in him.

      My inclination is to step back and let him suffer the consequences — even though in his case they would be very severe — he might have to leave the country and go live on his own in the U.S.

      Does that sound right? Anything else I should consider?

    • #42134
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

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

      I had the same problem with my 19 year old son. My advice is to contact the college & speak to his head of course or learning support department. As your son is over 16 the college will not discuss his personal course work but if you make them aware of your concerns they can then discuss it with your son and see what he is doing. You have so much riding on this so you’ve nothing to loose & I found the college to be very supportive.

    • #42135
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

      This reply was originally posted by user fortuna33 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      LF, thanks for your advice,but if I contact the school they will tell him about it .. and wouldn’t this send the message that I am responsible for his schoolwork, rather than putting the responsibility on him?

      Unfortunately there is nothing like a learning support department in his school. We tried an ADD coach before, but it did not work because he lied to her. It’s so discouraging, he doesn’t seem to have made any progress at all on the homework/studying front, h is behavior is pretty much the same as when he was 13 or 14 yrs old.

    • #42137
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

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

      I strongly disagree with the idea of contacting the college. This is your son’s problem to solve (if there is in fact a problem) and your son’s consequences to learn. And besides, he might be telling you the truth.

      I know that the consequences would be severe and life changing, but nevertheless, they are his lessons to learn. Better he can learn them now; it can save him a lot of pain in the future when the stakes could even be higher.

      I think salvaging and preserving your relationship with him is just as important in this scenario as any of the other things going on. If you go to the college, you could destroy that relationship forever.

      You might even want to consider apologizing to him for jumping to conclusions. Tell him you were just worried for him but that you trust him and believe he knows right from wrong and will make good decisions.

      We all deserve to be “innocent until proven guilty” and it’s human nature to live up to someone’s expectations of us. If he thinks that in your eyes he’s a liar and a cheat, he will rise to that level every time; there’s really “no point” not to (in his mind) since he sees that you’ve already decided who and what he “is”. Does that make sense?

      Joyce Mabe
      Parent Coach, School Counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD.

    • #42139
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

      This reply was originally posted by user fortuna33 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Thanks Joyce, I agree with what you say .. it’s just discouraging because he’s already flunked out of two other schools. I didn’t get involved in either instance, told him I had confidence he’d do what was necessary and would ask for help if he needed it … both times he said don’t worry Mom, everything is fine… and then he flunked every single course, because he cut classes and didn’t do assigned work. Right now he is not flunking, though his grades are mediocre. However if he were expelled for plagiarism it will would be very, very serious because of his immigration status … but maybe he will just have to suffer the awful consequences if he makes that choice.

    • #42140
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

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

      I feel for you. It’s so hard to step back and watch.

      But you’re right. It’s important he feel the sting of the consequences of his own making.

      Maybe something like this is what it would take to get through to him that he has to change his ways. (Or, maybe he didn’t cheat. Fingers crossed this is the case!!)

      Hang in there!

      Joyce

    • #42141
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

      This reply was originally posted by user fortuna33 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Hello, Joyce I did take your very good advice, I told my son that I was sorry I accused him of plagiarising his project. He then admitted that he was not the author of the paper he showed me – fortunately he said he had not submitted it to the school and didn’t plan to. I’ve had the sense he is feeling overwhelmed by the project, because he has severe issues with information processing, and tends to “shut down” when confronted with a big assignment. So I asked if he might want a tutor or coach help him get organized. He said yes, so we’re in the process of looking for someone.

      Perhaps in the eyes of some, this amounts to enabling .. But before you make that accusation, ask yourself: would you be ready to send your 21-year-old (who has an emotional-maturity lag of 4 or 5 years because of ADD) … thousands of miles away to live in a foreign country where he has never lived and has no support system?

    • #42142
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

      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.

    • #42144
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

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

      I think it’s wonderful that you apologized for the accusation and not trusting him, and that you worked together to come up with a solution with him doing his part.

      Providing resources is not enabling him to be lazy or not do the work, it’s enabling him to be accountable and succeed, despite having a disability.

      I think this deserves a celebration. You’re being the support, but expecting him to use it and turn it into a positive.

      Penny
      ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #42145
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

      This reply was originally posted by user fortuna33 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Well, I was so encouraged … and now, ka-boom. My son told me he was meeting with this tutor to work on his project, said he really liked her and she was helping him a lot, but after a few weeks I started wondering because she hadn’t cashed the checks I was sending with him to give her … so I sent her a note and she replied she had never heard from him, they never met. His project is due next week .. he will just have to take the consequences which surely will be very bad. Sigh.

    • #42146
      Allison Russo
      Keymaster

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

      So sorry to hear this. Sounds like he’s determined to learn his lessons the hard way! It will be heartbreaking for you to watch, but you need to keep reminding yourself that you did everything you could do to help him. Hang in there and stay strong; you are doing the right thing by staying out of it from this point forward.

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

    • #54802
      fortuna33
      Participant

      Hi, I’m the original poster on this thread. As mentioned above, I was worried because my son needed to stay in school and get a postsecondary degree in order to become eligible for citizenship. Well, I’m happy to report, this has now happened! He just received the equivalent of an associate’s degree, and has decided to pursue a bachelor’s next year. I made the decision some time ago to step back and let him take responsibility for his future—and things worked out. I won’t pretend it has been easy, it’s been a very bumpy ride and he still has a lot of issues with executive functioning and anger management. As I feared, he flunked the course where he had the big project due — but his grades in other courses were good enough to give him a passing grade overall. As they say, expect progress, not perfection! Just wanted to share this with other parents wrestling with young-adult ADD/ADHD.

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