Frustrated, anxious and a I've become... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Frustrated, anxious and a I've become a pushover!!

ChristinaR1967 profile image

My son who just turned 14, has inattention ADHD, officially diagnosed a year ago. Started 8th grade this year at a rigorous charter school. Was homeschooled before that for 2 years, it was successful. From K-5, went to small private school and excelled.

This 8th grade year has been the most challenging, stressful and anxiety ridden year of my life! He has been failing and Methylphenidate and Vyvanse both didn't work, cause very bad side effects.

He's finally with a week into the new grading period getting some decent grades, but I've had to hold his hand. His attitude is that it will be okay. He has no sense of urgency!

Today his school is having student led parent conferences and he woke up this morning complaining he didn't feel well and he begged to stay home.

He had that horrible flu in February, and I become very nervous when he gets sick, so I let him stay home!

He's always trying to miss a day of school. We are just all over the place. I feel like a pushover and I'm losing control!

I never thought I'd be like this. My husband is old school and doesn't understand ADHD at all.

I'm miserable and a ball of nerves. I seriously need help myself. He's my only child, I'm a helicopter parent and I freak out about everything when it comes to him.

I need some help and guidance. Things are a mess. Is there anyone feeling this way?

Any advice on how to get back on track?

11 Replies
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Most helicopter parents I know do so because it gives them a sense of control--but it's actually a false sense of control because you really can't control anyone but yourself.

It's actually great that you recognize that you're headed down that helicopter parent path because now you have the awareness and can start to do things differently! One thing that I recommend is that you dig deep and decide what your overall goal is in parenting your son (my guess is that it's to prepare him for adulthood so he can be happy and successful despite his ADHD) and then after you're clear on that, pay attention to when you are about to make decisions related to him; make sure what ever actions you take are in line with your parenting goals i.e., in your son's best interest in terms of preparing him for adulthood (and NOT just to make yourself feel better, like less anxious or less guilty, etc.)

If you are ready to "land your helicopter", here are some ideas for what to do instead:

Also, in terms of enabling versus empowering your teen, you might also find this article helpful:

Hope this helps!

Joyce Mabe

13 year old grandson periodically gets a bad case of nerves, gets feeling sick to his stomach and wants to stay home. Doesn't happen. Unless he's throwing up or running a fever I make him go.

He is usually fine once he gets there.

Teen years are really hard. We're still adjusting medication doses and he also goes to a behavioral counselor

I can totally relate with your experience. My son’s therapist recommended an on line video training I’m doing now called the Parallel Process.” It’s a daily email, with follow up parent homework (nothing too challenging,but definitely eye opening at times for me), and videos with Questions and Answers. Much of the content deals with parental enmeshment, boundaries, appropriate parental authority, consequences, and healthy supportive relationships. The course is well underway, but it may not be too late to check it out since it’s all recorded. You can reach out to Krissy at: She has a book by the same name. Wish you the best!

It might be tough, but try to relax about his grades. Our youngest son just turned 13 and started 7th grade this year. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 5th grade when his grades started slipping (he had always been an A student and in the gifted/talented class). In elementary school, his teachers did a great job of helping him be organized and attend to what he needed to do. However, as a 7th grader he now has 7 teachers and misses instructions, doesn't study for tests (because he thinks he will have time...later), forgets to hand in assignments, rushes through, etc. His grades are Bs, Cs, and Ds. He is a smart kid but struggling academically due to these issues and, even though he has a 504 plan in place, does not receive much direction from his teachers. We've tried to help him, but all of his assignments are on his school's "dashboard" and it takes too much time for me to go through each of his classes (and each of the many tabs listed for each class - teachers are not consistent in where they list assignments). After many meetings with his teachers and trying to help him at home, we have decided to step back; as a result, he seems happier and is enjoying school more since the pressure to get As/Bs is off.

Regarding medication: If your son is not on a medication, I would suggest that you keep trying. Our son had issues with 7 of the 8 ADHD medications we tried (excessive tics, anger, depression, flat affect). We even did a Genesight test which is supposed to show what medications would have more negative effects and all should have had minimal side effects. But, we kept trying and finally are using a very low dose of Concerta - it's minimal effects are just enough to take the edge off his excessive talking/inattention (although disorganization is still a huge issue). Every time we try to increase dosage (due to continued problems with his ADHD), the same problems pop up. He (and we) have learned to be content with where he is academically - he is successful in his friendships and is learning at school. He is not at the top or even the top 2/3 of his class but he enjoys school and our battles have decreased.

First of all, take a deep breath and realize that for most of us, getting our kids through school is a very long journey! You need to find an ADHD medication that works, even if it has some side effects. I guarantee that he will not make it through high school without meds. You didn't mention that side effects, but there are many options now and it's really important that both you and your son be on board with the fact that he does need a medication. And although AHDH is a neurological disorder, it doesn't mean that our kids are "sick" or that they need to be treated differently. It sounds like your son has become a good manipulator! I would consider sending him to a regular high school next year, at least for one year, to see how he manages. Hold off on the "rigorous" school, AP classes, etc. until you see how he does. High school is a challenge to most kids and ADHD kids often have a harder time. Along with the ADHD goes the usual teenage challenges. You need to figure out how to back off and let your son at least try and manage his schedule, classes, etc. If he becomes defiant and starts to push back against your constant interference, things will be much more difficult. Don't let him "play" you - he needs to go to school with no argument.

Every day I open my eyes! This is a hard life and only others who experience can relate. Every day has some struggle with it. Keep doing your best, it’s all you can do. I want to point out to you that you have identified you have become a pushover. You can’t control your son or his choices, but you can do something for yourself. I’ve been doing the nurtured heart approach for about seven weeks. It’s not a cure, it’s not a miracle, but I think it has helped. Look into it and see if it might be something you would be interested in trying. Good luck!

You sound like me!! My son is the same way but in 4th grade. I am such a pushover and I have an excuse for everything. I just always feel so bad for my son. My husband doesn’t understand ADHD either old school thinks he should just reprimand and punish. I am lost too so I have no advice I am a ball of nerves too never want to upset anyone. It’s horrible. I just want to say you are not alone.

That dull pain we feel in the pit of our stomachs is anxiety for our child. We want them to thrive in life so much that we literally make ourselves sick when they fail, misbehave, or make bad choices. Ironically, if we push too hard or transfer our stress and disappointment to our children, it can actually cause them not to thrive. Kids have taken their own lives because the pressure of grades and social life are unbearable. What is success anyway? I know highly educated people that ended up pretty miserable in life. I know C students who never finished college that later became wealthy both in finances and in spirit. ADHD kids can succeed in life but the path to success might look different for them. The most important thing we can do is help them find what that is, with guidance, support, and knowing when to be hard on them to 'save them', and when to let them make mistakes and learn from that. Sorry for getting preachy. I would try to work with the school to see how he can improve. It might be the teaching style, the change itself might be impacting his engagement. New school right? He lacks urgency and is faking sickness? Some kids hide or shut down when extremely stressed. Could that be the issue?

Thank you for your response. I appreciate everything you've said. I didn't switch his school, even though I wanted him to go back to the private school he went to when he was younger, but it's too late. At his current school, I talked with the assistant principal about a 504 plan, but he talked to the teachers and I have seen them make some mild accommodations, but we don't have anything on paper. However, I definitely plan to put a 504 in place when he begins high school next year. It's so hard and I'm trying to find my way with this journey and the best way I can help him. I appreciate all the advice you've given.

Hi there, I am in grad school at the moment studying to become an MFT Psychologist, and I as well have Inattentive ADHD. As a parent you did a great thing by having your son diagnosed and get treatment. I was not so fortunate during my teens and went undiagnosed until my mid 20s. Middle school and High school were absolute hell. I hated school, hated waking up early, and hated being around people I did not like. If I did not get a nice solid 8hrs of sleep or eat right I was irate and snapped both verbally and physically at anyone who upset me, this is due to a theory of ADHD that stems from the condition coming from our hunter and gatherer ancestors. If you look up the characteristics of someone with ADHD they are the ideal characteristics hunters and gatherers needed to have. Anyway I digress, so the best piece of advice I can give you is:

1. SUPPLEMENTS. The reason why both stimulant medications did not work well and had negative side effects was because helpful supplements to combat against those negative side effects were perhaps not used. Unfortunately here in America a majority of doctors/psychiatrists do not tell you anything about supplements, instead they just tell you to take the medication, which causes a myriad of problems. For example: High blood pressure, increasing heart heart, gum/tooth pain, irritability, sleeping problems, medication stops working due to certain neurotransmitters being depleted because of continuous use. On my profile, I have a link to a list of supplements I take and why I take them, along with a link to a website filled with information on helpful supplements for people with ADHD, the guy who runs it has ADHD himself.

2. Eating well and Sleeping Enough Hours. People with Inattentive ADHD have a harder time functioning with less sleep than people with who are of the Hyperactive subtype of ADHD. If we sleep around less than 7 hours, we are going to be in a horrible mood and feel absolute apathy towards anything and everything usually. And while in school, we are usually going to have little sleep, due to finishing up the homework a lot later since we have a hard time completing it. Also Inattentive types have what is called "slow-onset sleep" meaning it takes us about 20min to 2hrs or more to fall asleep. There are helpful supplements for this as well on my links mentioned in #1. Eating: make sure your son eats well through out the day, that is going to make a HUGE difference. I try to never deal with people when I am hungry because I could get quite intense. I never ate breakfast when I was in middle school- HS, because I was never hungry in the morning, I was usually irritable and nauseated every morning because of lack of sleep. If your son does not get hungry, I recommend you buy him a multivitamin type drink called "Orgain" it is an organic shake that is a good meal replacement/multivitamin packed with 16grams of protein and a ton of beneficial healthy ingredients that are really helpful for someone with ADHD.

3. I would consider putting him back in a private school. People with ADHD have major motivational problems and already struggle in a school system that is not made up for us. I do not recommend you place him in programs or classes that are going to add more to his plate, because that will be overwhelming to him and cause issues. Also keep in mind that his reward system has taken a major fall since he was younger. Irritability, feeling down, struggling with school and not being able to relate to others unfortunately is quite common for people with Inattentive ADHD.

4. Stop being a helicopter parent. Also stop expecting him to be like other neurotypical teens/people. We are of a completely different breed of people that have advantages and skills of a different era, but unfortunately are here now and have to make the best of it. This is where you as a parent make a difference. Come to terms with the fact that your son is different and needs your help, support him, talk to him, and most of all be REAL with him about BOTH his strengths and weaknesses. This will make life a lot easier on the both of you.

I also made a series of Youtube videos for people with Inattentive ADHD and all the problems they face from Elementary school through Adulthood. The link is on my profile if you're interested. I'd show these videos to your husband as well, so he could get a better picture of the difficulties of the condition. Hope this helps. There are several books out there to check into as well "ADHD 101 A Guidebook for Parents" by Greg M. Romaneck and Derek Harkema, "The Explosive Child" by Ross W. Greene and "From Defiance to Cooperation" by John F. Taylor, PH.D. are a few to start. ADDitude magazine is a great resource as are numerous other websites, such as this one. Also several parenting courses such as: Nurturing Heart, Strengthening Families, love and logic, parent management training, trust based relational interventions training etc.

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