As promised, here’s part one of the lesson we’ve learned since our son was diagnosed with ADHD ten years ago.
Lowering Standards – I had to learn to ask one question over and over. “What’s more important?” What was more important, pristine rooms or an environment where I wasn’t stressed about it?* Straight A’s or kids who weren’t stressed (too much) about grades? Boy Scouts or three more unscheduled, laid back hours in a week? Legibility or learning? Over and over, I had to relax standards, lower expectations, and let go of preconceived notions. What was left were the essentials.
*I’m happy to say, that if you came in my house right now – it’s straight. The mess didn’t last long, because the boys grew up and moved away. And yes, there is a lesson in that!!
Learning How They Learned – Although I gained a lot from reading articles about learning styles, I never could pigeonhole any of our boys into one category. The boys seemed to morph from one day to the next. We eventually assembled an arsenal of learning devices – from whisper phones to flash cards to poems to mind maps to unique math methods to understand math. We learned over 100 ways to focus – as I share in our Focus, Pocus guide. I learned to get through a night of homework – usually without tears and with only minimal frustration.
Partnering with the School – First of all, we had a stellar run of teachers. For the most part, they loved our boys and bent over backwards to help them. I had to learn to be on their team – as teachers and as human beings. I made sure my contacts with them were mostly positive. I complimented them verbally and in writing – and shared those compliments with anyone who would listen, including principals and school board members. My husband and I got involved with the school, sending in food, working book fairs, serving on committees, and showing up for conferences. Constant communication was the key to all of this. Thank goodness for email during high school.
NOT Letting Go – At some point, we are supposed to let our kids become responsible for doing their own homework and studying. We let go of Ron in high school. He floundered and made so so grades, didn’t learn what he should have, and went to (and paid for) community college for two years before he got his act together. Joe and Mike would not have graduated from high school had we let go. So I stayed in charge. The teachers and I made sure the boys studied for tests, prepared projects, and did assignments. I tutored and proofread and retaught and learned everything they did. (Amo, amas, amat…) And they graduated, to strains of the Hallelujah Chorus, and now Joe is a Petty Officer in the Navy, and Mike is in his second year of college – still struggling, but making it.
(And now I have Ash, who just turned in a fifty page project that I never saw. And got an A on it. I’m so glad he was last. Can you imagine having that act to follow?! Plus, I’m still TIRED from the first three!)
Making Sacrifices – Anytime you write about sacrifices you run the risk of sounding sanctimonious and/or making others feel guilty for not doing what you have done. So I’m going to spare you what our sacrifices were/are. But let’s just say that there are times you may have to give up things, jobs, money, or time. You may have to waive your right to self expression, hold your temper in check, and bite your tongue. Your family may have to change habits, diets, or sleep patterns. You may lose friends and/or gain enemies. Just know that you are not alone, that this too will pass, and that your children are worth it!
Life Preparation – In the middle of ADHD, we – especially my husband – gave our boys some non-academic life training. Our guys can maintain a car, make sound financial decisions (no car debt for any of them – ever!), and ask a girl out. They know how to cook and clean and relate to small children. They can do their own laundry, schedule a doctor’s appointment, travel independently and bargain for a Christmas tree. They can argue and fight and ask for forgiveness, look someone in the eye and ask for a job. If we disappeared tomorrow, they would make it.
PS What did YOU do right?! Share it with us below!