Today I had to confess my shortcomings in order to help my son. It’s not easy admitting you need help. Well, I don’t need help. I have it all under control. I’ve been doing it on my own all along, well not really. We’ve been managing, growing, overcoming obstacles, and have come to a stop.
There has been a lot of growth and we have come to a point of manageability or I have settled so much to have excused poor behavior as satisfactory. Everyone can not be held to the same standards: this is what I’ve come to believe raising a child with ADHD. I have advocated for my child through high school and into college and have come to the point where his behavior has halted his ability to participate with others, therefore, I failed. We need to have a do over.
I am being too harsh on myself saying that I failed, as I did not. In fact, I did the best with what I had to work with. All children grow and learn at different paces. The ability to control ones impulses and be reasonable comes with maturity and as much as I would have like for him to have been more compliant before graduating high school and going off to college, he wasn’t ready and I couldn’t make it happen. I knew this before sending him off, yet I didn’t want to tell him he wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to hold him back. I didn’t want to discourage him. And the bottom line is – that I didn’t know what more I could do for him.
I tried positive reinforcement when he was younger and thought it was a crock of bullshit. There was nothing that was going to move him to do what he didn’t want to do. I was satisfied to have raised a kindhearted young man in a world where those with differences are battered by society. I was his best advocate. I carried the slack as long as I could.
Unfortunately, he lacked the basic responsibilities for himself and his space and I allowed this, picking up the slack or ignoring it to avoid conflict. I wanted him to be happy. Ultimately, his deficit in social skills as I avoided conflicts, has interfered in his ability to respond to limits appropriately. Also,I was his advocate, therefore he didn’t learn to be his own advocate.
When they sent him home from college after seven weeks, instead of saying “Fuck it”, he has chosen to grow: to do what he can to learn the skills to succeed and as reinforcement, to volunteer as a peer advocate to those less able than himself. And I thought I failed as we face this next challenge, when actually we have succeeded in facing the challenge head on: to learn, to grow, and to be capable to face to world on their terms, in spite of ADHD.
With all these years behind us, we will once again give positive reinforcement a try as the reward of a full life of inclusion is within his reach. Having made the other hurdles, having had the taste of success, it is not just “I”, but “he” that wants it all, and “we” are going to grab it!