18 and Stuck: My son just turned 18 and... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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18 and Stuck

Beccagl profile image
11 Replies

My son just turned 18 and is about to drop out of HS months before graduation. He refuses to attend school, says he wants to get his GED but he refuses to withdrawal himself either. I want him to graduate so I will not withdrawal him. I told him that since he’s 18 and making this decision against all advice to stick it out, he would have to do it himself if that want he wants to do. He will not get a job. He had a job at a restaurant during Covid, He was training and liked the job. This restaurant got an influx of employees who left a different restaurant wanting to work there. They let all the trainees go, including my son. He has not worked since. He is completely stuck in life right now. I want to be patient with him but this has been going on for months now and frankly patients is running out. I don’t get any support from his father because his father doesn’t understand or care to understand his ADHD diagnosis. He doesn’t understand why his impulsiveness never is positive. Frankly my husband would just like to kick his ass and throw him out…. SMH. I don’t know how to get my son unstuck.

11 Replies
Daisymariejk profile image

First of all, I am sorry you all are going through a hard time. Many parents here understand and have empathy due to similar challenging experiences. We all want the best for our children and will do whatever we can to help them. While, I don’t have a specific answer because every situation is different, I wonder if it would be possible to sit down with your son and ask him how you could help him to achieve the goal of graduating HS - what would be helpful from his perspective and what is standing in his way? Sometimes our kids get overwhelmed, and feel shame for not knowing how to get themselves out of a difficult situation. The school wants to help kids graduate and sometimes when they sit down with families and hear their unique situations, they will make exceptions or accommodations. Tell him you are with him every step of the way and it’s the home stretch. Does he have a friend who he can look for jobs with? Maybe they can get a job at the same place and they can motivate each other on both the work and school front. Wishing you all the best. Don’t give up.

Beccagl profile image
Beccagl in reply to Daisymariejk

We certainly have but he is completely checked out with school. We have exhausted all options for him to be able to graduate.

sceller profile image
sceller in reply to Beccagl

It's really important for your son to get that diploma.....could you contact his school and see if he can finish virtually? There's only a few months of school left.

The problem with not having HS diploma is that it restricts the jobs he's eligible for, even today, with lots of jobs available.

Don't kick him out yet - he's actually functioning at about a 15-16 year old level. He won't really mature until he's about 25-27. (I know - I have a 28 yr old ADHD son!) Kicking our boys out usually leads to even more problems...... Does he drive? Or have a phone? You could possibly use one of these as the "carrot" for school and work.

My son is still young, so I don’t have any specific advice or suggestions… just want to send virtual support and let you know you’re not alone! I can image this situation is causing so much stress. Having an unsupportive partner makes it that much harder. Are you able to talk to someone, a therapist or a trusted friend? To help you to cope with this exhausting situation. Sending good vibes.

Pattimum profile image

So sorry for all the stress you are having with your son currently.

This does sound like he might have anxiety which stops him from doing things. Basically it’s like - if he doesn’t do anything he can’t fail (that’s the faulty thinking behind this withdrawal). He is probably not aware of this mechanism. Ask him if he feel hopeless etc.

It’s ‘pains’ of maturing and transforming into an adult with ADHD.

Some kind of therapy, maybe a group therapy could help…

Equally when a person is in such frame of mind they don’t necessarily see it. He can’t see the bigger picture. He might need antidepressants or other medication for anxiety etc to help him get out of this negative pattern.

Is there anywhere he could volunteer? It does count as a job experience and will give him some time to get back on his feet.

Beccagl profile image
Beccagl in reply to Pattimum

He said he would rather people assume his a failure that proving them right. He’s not stupid, he is a deep thinker. His own disappointment in doing an assignment, turning it in on time and still getting a failing grade… He feels like “what’s the point?”

Pattimum profile image
Pattimum in reply to Beccagl

Have you tried to explore with him why the assignment got a failing grade? Has he cheated and copied it from Internet? Or maybe he wrote loads but not on topic (that’s sometimes an issue for people with ADHD- staying in topic, doing as they are told rather than doing what they want to do…). Teachers won’t give a pass if someone hasn’t followed instructions and didn’t do exactly what they were asked to do.

I think this is something that has to then be discussed with his teacher - how to help your son to get those assignments right next time. So he doesn’t waste his time and effort and handing in on time and getting a fail mark. It’s terribly discouraging for anyone to be in such a position. Especially if they weren’t given strategies to improve their work next time.

Adhdparentspouse profile image

That is a hard situation to be in. Hang in there. You are doing your best. Book: smart but scattered and stalled by Richard Guare has many ADHD specific tips you may find very helpful.

Beccagl profile image
Beccagl in reply to Adhdparentspouse

Thanks for the recommendation… I just ordered it from Amazon

NYCmom2 profile image

Have you had a family meeting with his high school guidance counselor to explore options for completing his coursework? He may benefit from seeing all of his options laid out before him. And need help processing the steps involved and the pros and cons to each avenue ending ultimately in a HS diploma or equivalency.

His reasons for school avoidance could be anything from overwhelm with the course work, falling behind and not knowing how to catch up or anxiety about maturing and what’s next in life. It could be about college, comparing himself to peers etc etc. I’m very curious what he’s avoiding.

COVID was challenging on everyone but possibly the worse on vulnerable teens. Therapy is a helpful tool.

He may like the book The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. “5 tools to help you find courage, creativity and willpower and inspire you to live life in forward motion”. He can also find these tools on TikTok and Netflix documentary Stutz

This blog post I googled quickly describes his “String of Pearls” tool for being stuck (or procrastinating) usually due to fear of failure or desire for perfection. masoncurrey.substack.com/p/...

MamaSwins profile image

We could be soul sisters; mine is a 17 y/o daughter. She does have a job but it’s her perhaps 6th in a year? She’s so done with school it is painful. I like the advice everyone is sharing about working with the school. My kiddo’s guidance counsellor has been a godsend! One caution about virtual school (we are currently working our way though a hybrid system). If you son doesn’t have the motivation to do school on his own, virtual can be even worse. The kids have to have the motivation and discipline to log on every day and do assignments every day or they dig a hole they can’t get out of.

Next year my daughter will enrol in an upgrade course in the community college nearby so maybe that’s an option for your son? She’s likely going to be graduated by the skin of her teeth. Are there any courses or programs for him that wouldn’t require the HS certificate? Perhaps something like that would be new and interesting to him so he’d be on a new track?

I’m with you on the losing of patience because it is exhausting when there is no end in sight and you feel like you are the only one trying. I don’t have much support as my husband has a different view on ADH . I was diagnosed too and he just doesn’t understand the inner workings of it. I doubt he ever will. I did read some advice that suggested to stop involving him in the treatment, the plan, etc. because if he’s not interested in learning about it, he can’t be part of it. I realized by forcing the information down his throat and arguing with him when he doesn’t want to learn about it, I’m just upsetting everyone in the household. He’s a grown man with his own free will so he can figure it out for himself. I have to be there for my daughter.

Sending you a virtual hug!

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