Any parents feel like they have failed?

My son is in 11th grade and has ADHD mainly inattentive. He wasn’t diagnosed until 8th grade. I’ve watched him struggle socially, emotionally and academically. I have tried so hard, gotten him a great doctor and tried getting him coaching. He doesn’t accept the coaching because he doesn’t think that he needs it. It’s been a hard road. He’s as great kid and has a heart of gold but he gets upset when I try to “manage” him.

Here’s the problem. I feel like o have failed as a mom. A lot of my nieces and nephews and friends kids are going to great colleges and achieving so much. Law degrees, pharmacists, nurses, doctors etc. my oldest daughter is a Sr in college and doing great. I just feel as though I failed my son and have ruined his education. If I had only noticed things sooner. I keep thinking that maybe I was too engrossed with my older child’s education and activities that things just slipped by.

I am sorry to vent.

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Dear ng24,

I too have had similar feelings. I have 2 boys 16 & 14. My oldest presented with ADHD very early and received a lot of early intervention whereas my second did not present with any issues until 8th grade. I thought how did I miss this but in looking back I don’t think it got unmanageable for my youngest until puberty started. He was first diagnosed with ADHD but until recently we found he has extreme anxiety (excessive beta waves) which can be treated a bit differently. Anyway, it is never too late to get help for your son. Please don’t blame yourself - take time to take care of yourself mentally & physically so you can help your son. I know it is easier said then done - we all know...the days are long, hard and tiring and usually not rewarding with children with mental health needs but your son needs your help and guidance more than ever! Find a therapist, psychiatrist, and most important find something your son can be successful in whether it is academics, sport, art or music. It seems most children with needs are constantly criticized and experience very little positive feedback & experiences so it is helpful for a child to have something to feel good at (other than video games 😉)

Best of luck!

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Thank you for your reply. He has recently been diagnosed with depression so he was taken off Adderall XR and kept on 2 Mg Relisperidone and added Prozac to the mix. His mood is doing much better and he seems happier. However, his school work is suffering. They put him on a natural non stimulant Vaysrin about 30 days ago. It takes up to 90 days to see if the full effect if any. Focus seems to be getting a little better but that could be the Prozac kicking in. I just keep kicking myself that it’s soblate in his teenage years that we are doing the med changes

The good thing is that now on the Prozac he is doing so much better socially and emotionally.

I what kind of meds are your sons on? Thanks

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Hi, I can relate so much! When my son was in high school, I was a school counselor and I thought I'd be the only school counselor in the world whose son almost didn't graduate!!

When I talk to my son now (he's in his mid 20s and doing great!) about his rough high school years and how hard it was for me to know how to help him when he pushed back at every attempt, he tells that it didn't matter what I did or what I tried to do to help him--he says he had to get there in his own time and in his own way.

So it wasn't that I did something wrong; I think it was more a matter of the fact that I had expectations that didn't line up with reality-- I thought/wished/hoped things would go one way, but they went another. I blamed myself a lot, but a lot of it was out of my control.

There's a great quote that I love that addresses this: "Expectations are resentments waiting to happen." What this means to me is that we can't control or change others, but we can control and change our thoughts about them and our reactions.

That said, I know it's normal that we as parents have so many hopes and dreams for our kids but the reality is that everyone has their own path to walk, and as my son said, they have to get there in their own way and in their own time.

I know it's hard not to compare and feel like you're not measuring up as a parent, especially in the world of social media posts, and it's easy to look back and judge ourselves on the shoulda woulda couldas but you can't change the past. There's another great quote I love (paraphrased): "we all do the best we can do with the information we have at the time, and when we know better, we do better."

One thing you can do now--something that will help you AND him--is to do whatever you need to do to keep your relationship with him strong so that when he's ready to get different results in his life, you're the first person he thinks of to go to for help.

Hope this helps!

Joyce Mabe parentcoachjoyce.com

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This helps so much! “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” I am going to write this down and say it in my head several times a day!

I am so glad that your son is doing well. It helps so much to hear. Your son is right. It’s up to my son. When he finds his way he’s going to do awesome. He’s so bright. But, like your son says, it has to come from him.

Thank you for the advice on keeping our relationship good so that he comes to me when he does start finding his way. Our relationship sure has improved this last school year. I have let him deal with the consequences of school at school while focusing on family and relationships while at home. For years, every night was an argument. Going over PowerSchool and what hadn’t been turned in. It was ruining our relationship. Since I have let go and let him just be him at home we have had some wonderful times

As a School counselor, what are your thoughts of School results being online? Through Schoology, I get notified every time he submits anything. It can be really anxiety producing as a parent. A notification comes over as a Zero and anxiety begins. Then, I find out later from my son that he was given more time and it’s all handled. Anxiety for nothing. I have gotten to the point where I turned off the notifications and delete the automatic emails. I only look at the Summary e mail at the end of the week. I think the schools try to turn us in to helicopter parents. How are our teenagers supposed to grow? I’d just like your opinion on that. Technology can be informative but it can also be so anxiety producing and counter productive

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Every time my phone notifies me of "real time " grades, I get nauseous. It'll say F and then C in a matter of minutes. Its intolerable but I don't know what's worse - knowing right away or not knowing until its too overwhelming.

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Two kids, single mom. Wow! You rock. My hat is off to you!

The school results instantly is insane. The only way that I can cope is to not look at it but once a week and then coaching from there. If he’s having problems, I will do twice a week. I have turned it over to my son. I have told him that it’s his grade and he needs to keep up on it. If it’s wrong, he needs to take ownership and talk to the teacher about it and get it fixed. This is very freeing at times. At other times, it’s fruatrating because he doesn’t take ownership all the time. I constantly question if I am doing this right or should I be checking. Ugh!

I think we both need to be kind to ourselves I am glad there is this forum

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You asked earlier what medication my son is on he is taking sertraline, Vyvance and just prescribed intuniv. And we are trying some alternative therapies to help balance his brain waves. But I wanted to say when it comes to grades my husband and I put a system in place where I check the 1st of the month (yup you heard it 1x per month) and if a missing assignments or an F then there is a consequence. Our feeling is missing assignments & F = laziness. We realize that our boys may not be A students but we ask that they try and if they get a B- or C well then ok. We are trying to stop “helicoptering” and get the ownership on them. I have to say it is working very well For 1 1/2 years. Best of luck!!!

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I love that! Check once a month and consequence for F and missing work. This makes them responsible without driving you up a wall. Love it!!

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In general, I think online grades are great--for students--because it's a good way for them to monitor themselves/stay on top of things so they can know if what they're doing is bringing them closer or further away from their goals (it's so important that kids learn that they are in complete control of their results: take certain actions, get certain results; if you want to change your results you have to change what you do.)

You're right that keeping such close tabs on online grades can also be a way for parents to micromanage, which in my opinion only backfires. I absolutely agree with you that letting kids deal with school (and the consequences of their choices) is a better way to go. (And then, when he fails and has a consequence, he realizes he needs to change and then is more willing to ask for help to get there.)

As a side note related to grades, I think it's fine to set family consequences related to grades, for example, "in order for us to pay for your cell phone or car insurance, we expect a GPA of ___ each (quarter or semester or month or whatever you decide together)--and then you check grades online at that point to see if he met his goal; if not, then bye bye cell phone or whatever). But even in these cases you would still back off after agreeing to the goal, and let him handle how (if) he gets there...and let him know that you're there to help if he ever wants it.

(glad you were able to change your notifications settings!)

Joyce Mabe parentcoachjoyce.com

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Omg yes!!! I feel like that too!!! I'm a single parent of 15 y.o. twin boys and my husband passed away when they were 2. I question everything I've done and every decision. I feel like I work harder than him to be even moderately successful. The schools are quick to judge and I'm emotionally exhausted. You're not alone!

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Long ago I stop comparing myself to other parents. I'm happy for them but you have to accept the reality of your child and what they can achieve. A lot of times in their mid-twenties they will finally get it together. It's hard to wait

Teen years are so hard. My grandson did well on ADHD medicine for years in grade school and then in Middle School it didn't work at all. He also started having problems with depression. Right now he is on Wellbutrin, intuniv, and Seroquel. Not everything is wonderful but he's more like the kid he used to be.

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Thank you. You are right. Acceptance

I am glad your grandson is more like the kid he used to be :)

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It definitely is not your fault. My situation was reversed. My son (the oldest) has a severe case of ADHD and an IQ way above mine. Never had to study but refused to do homework - aced every test but received 0’s on homework. Had almost no friends, never invited to parties, etc. We tried EVERYTHING to help him - every medication, every structure, every list. My husband drove him from Fla. to Tenn. every other weekend for biofeedback (when it was new). He ended up getting a GED, got into drugs, got his girlfriend pregnant and is now in prison. We have his daughter and she also has ADHD (here we go again).

On the other side of the coin, we have his sister (2 years younger), not gifted, very easy child with lots of friend who graduated from high school and college with honors. Is very successful in life but does suffer from anxiety because of all the abuse from him. Probably because we had so many issues with him and none with her we focused mainly on him. Every one of my siblings have very successful children with many degrees. Two of my siblings have PhD’s.

When you have a child with ADHD you cannot blame yourself for their failures. They fight everything you do to try and help them. My son was diagnosed at 4 so we had many years to focuse on him, to no avail. He now says he wishes he would have listened to us but it’s a little too late.

Please stop beating yourself up, it serves no purpose other than making you feel bad about yourself and it certainly doesn’t help him. Life is short, don’t use any of it worrying about being a bad parent. Do what you can, keep calm and don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Hope some of this helps and I wish well!

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God bless you! Sorry to hear about your son going through tough times I will stop beating myself up. It’s tearing my marriage apart

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It's tough - my husband is anti drug and picked the worst times to encourage our son to go off it. Ultimately, it's my son's decision as a teenager. From 7, we have gradually increased his involvement in the decision-making process about his meds.

I also put myself on same meds at same time - don't really like 'em.

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I feel like a failure EVER. DANG. DAY. My son is only in first grade and can't make it through one full day of school. He is now on a 'modified' school schedule. So, I understand how you are feeling. I am so afraid that I won't even get him through first grade let alone high school. I am mad at myself because I don't feel like I 'apply' myself enough to fixing his issues, however, I have done everything in possibly can to get him the help he needs. As mothers I just think that we are so hard on ourselves and place so much of the blame on ourselves. We just have to keep doing the best we can for a our babies and make sure to take sometime to care for ourselves in the process.

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Yes! We moms need to take time for ourselves. I think that as moms we feel that we should be able to fix everything. We all have to get rid of that thinking. I think our kids must pick up on this. Love on your first grader. He needs it

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Thanks

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Instead of moving to a school district with "good schools" i wish i had moved to a low rent district and sent my kid to a private outdoor school. My kid could behave outdoors near water, and on a train. Not in a room with other kids without his meds. When you think about it, ADD is the superior primative mind. I also can't cope with 30 children in one room all day. Mine was fine in stimulating pre-school co-op, so we started kindergarten as late as the law allowed.

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WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley. c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

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Posted the above essay Welcome to Holland. This to me personifies having a special needs kid. Things aren't always great but we do the best we can with the child we have been given and try to appreciate the good things about them

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Awesome Essay! Thanks for sharing

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I empathize with you. My son was dx at age 8 and we immediately put him on Concerta which did wonders for his ability to focus and do his schoolwork. Junior high was not nearly as smooth, but still okay. We put him in a small private school near our house and although he had to make all new friends, it was acceptable. High school was simply a nightmare....When I read the posts about following up on grades, I actually re-lived all the mornings I came into work, logged into Ed-line and was a combination of anxious and furious the rest of the day. And this lasted for about 3 years....

Here is my issue with our kids and no one seems to have any answers, or at least no good answers. Most counselors, administrators, etc in the high schools will tell you that you should allow your child to fail.....and that will teach him.....and he will then buck up and start doing his homework, getting good grades, act like the adult he is, etc My problem is that if I had allowed my son to fail, he would have either dropped or flunked out of high school at age 17. Kids with no diploma can't even get fast food jobs, and trying to make an older teen get his GED is almost impossible to do. No one ever thinks about the consequences of failing at age 17 or 18. No parent wants their son to be homeless, yet this is what would happen if parents did not continue to support their kids when they flunk out of college or can't get a job because they have no car.

My son is now 22 and finally going to college full-time. He is not an anti-social (which was my fear!), he didn't get into drugs, he has no criminal record, other than some speeding tickets. But we have supported him through all the years of failed college, lost jobs, no car, terribly money management, and other bad decisions. We can finally hold a decent conversation and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it's been a LONG road, with many ups and downs. And no one else really understands the impact of ADHD on everyone.....once your child gets older, the support groups don't apply to you and there isn't much sympathy from friends whose kids are taking AP college classes and graduating with honors.

I guess this is my turn to vent!!

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Amen!! It is encouraging for me to hear that your son is doing well. :) I agree with you that we can’t let our kids fail. I never want my son to fall in to a hole that he feels is too deep for him to crawl out of.

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In terms of "letting kids fail", I think there's a huge difference between just washing your hands of them and letting them do whatever (which I do not recommend) vs. allowing them to experience consequences so they can see that they are in control of the results they get and they can get to a point where they want different results bad enough that they are willing to change what their doing and to ask for (and are willing to listen to) help to get there. Of course It's hard for us parents to let them experience natural consequences but it's so important because one day we won't be there to rescue/save or protect them from consequences. Better they learn now in the "shallow end" when the stakes aren't so high. Sure, maybe that will mean failed credits and summer school...or maybe even a GED or a fast food job--until they decide enough is enough and then make changes, ask for help, etc.

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And this is the real issue: our kids are functioning about 2-3 years behind their age....so they are often not ready to be on their own or even to go away to college. I still get so angry when I think about the lack of support our large public high school was to us.

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I haven’t read all of the replies but, with all due respect, consequences will not improve a deficient working memory/executive function. Positive reinforcement and incentives, in my experience which is guided by a mastered degreed behaviorist, produces far better results, There should be accommodations in a 504 Plan or IEP that help ensure your son has the tools necessary for organization and task completion. My son is gifted and a straight A student due to accommodations that improve his ability to access the curriculum . During his IEP meeting yesterday, we asked that assistive technology be introduced so he is ready for muddle school. He will use a smart pen to record lectures and software to convert it to text. My son is a visual learner who will not be able to retain verbal input while struggling with note taking in the middle school honors program. Without these and other accommodations, he’s likely drop to Bs and possibly Cs beginning next year.

Be kind to yourself. My personal catch phrase is “We don’t know, what we don’t know”. I spend so much time learning from other parents through forums such as this one and from professionals.

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Just a little clarification for the myth that “consequences don’t work” for kids with ADHD or Executive Function issues: I think that it’s important to recognize that negative consequences/”failure” itself is not the end goal. The end goal of any consequence (positive consequences like incentives and “rewards”, as well as negative consequences) is to teach this important lesson: that all choices and actions have results (positive or negative) and if you want different results, you have to make different choices and take different actions. It’s true that kids with Executive Function issues need help and accommodations to operate on an even playing field as other kids and that when left to their own devices, their consequences will often be negative or undesirable. But it’s also true that often these kids refuse help and are defiant when parents try to help them. What helps with this is when parents allow their kids to “own” their choices (their choices, their consequences) , because then when they have a bad result, they have no one to blame but themselves (all the rebellion and defiance toward their parents naturally melts away). At that point of “failure”, parents can play a very important role of advisor or consultant by offering help (saying, for example, “What do you plan to do to keep that from happening again? If you’d like some ideas, let me know!”) And, if they have a good connection with their kids, their kids will be very willing to accept the offer of help because they saw with their own eyes that "their way" didn't work out that great and they need a little help and guidance to get where they want to go.

Joyce Mabe, MA, parentcoachjoyce.com

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Wow l, did I need to hear what you just said! Thank you. It’s hard for me to know what he can do and what is just defiance and not doing.

I tend to make excuses for him

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Yup. My son has no friends, which worries us, and poor grades, which disappointed us and him. He went off meds in 10th grade and quit wrestling. Wish i had hired him a tutor sooner. He said the only reason he didn't commit suicide in 11th grade is that we would be devestated and he realizes his life is better than most.

Finally in 12th grade he's a firefighter cadet 3 periods a day which he loves and gets A+.

I've been diligent in researching new opportunities for him and making him try it for just one day or week. That's how he got into wrestling, basketball, docent at a science museum, and ROP/fire cadet...I wanted him to change high schools but he refused, so counselor suggested ROP and he picked fire cadet ROP.

We fight every day about getting up in the a.m., going to school on time, getting off videogames on time, doing chores and homework, going to bed on time.

It's exhausting. We love each other, and may be somewhat enmeshed. He thinks my parenting skills suck. But i have ADHD too, so its hard to provide structure and consistent calm discipline.

Fortunately we like his company, as do many adults. We try to have fun together: outings, trips, tv shows we both like. Filling in a bit the gap in his social life.

Hopefully he'll get a job saving lives and be good to his colleagues and maybe make a few friends. He's great with children and might make someone a decent husband if i can get him to do dishes without a fight.

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Wow! This mirrors my son! Few friends, wrestling until he got hurt and then missed a season and never went back. Hard getting up in morning. Fights over homework. Etc! We too enjoy his company and do a lot with him to fill in the lack of social in his life

Great news about your son his Sr year. I will have to look in to something like this for my son. I just know that when he finds his passion he will take off!

Thank you so much for posting. It sounds like they and we are very much alike.

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Thanks for posting this. I have three kids with AD/HD and my oldest has ADD. His senior year has been the hardest in terms of his grades and he wants me "off his back" so he can figure out how to do things on his own. Only he's not doing the best at figuring it out on his own with a couple of his classes. He's a good kid, though, and in my experience, we're doing the best that we can as parents of kids with AD/HD. We go above and beyond to learn, to try, to do, and we beat ourselves up thinking that we've failed, when really, we've run farther and faster than most parents. We're survivors. And we do all this because we love our kids. Know that you've done enough and you're doing enough because you are enough as a parent.

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Thank you! I needed to hear that today

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