I hope you will take my question, which is about my son Nathan. He is as sweet as pie, but he has ADHD and sometimes it's overwhelming for me to have to deal with him. Also, he did not do well at all in school this past year.
I have tried for a long time to get him involved in sports or music, because his brother is so into both, and our family is really artistic. However, he doesn't show interest in any of the sports I try to get him to play, and he adamantly refuses to take up a instrument.
Nathan has always been difficult for me to deal with, ever since he was a baby. I love him with all my heart, but our personalities clash a lot. When he is struggling in school, I am hard on him because I instinctively know he can do so much better. Sometimes I feel terrible about myself and how I treat him, because I know he can't control how he behaves. He is beautiful to look at, and is SO sweet and loving; and I know how very unfair I can be to him.
Right now he is 14 years old and is getting ready to begin his first year in high school. What do I need to do to be a better parent to him, and to prepare him for this new school and for what he needs to do after he graduates in four years? I see him going nowhere very quickly, and it scares me because I love him so much, and I do want him to be successful in life. Any help can give will be very appreciated.
With Much Sincerity,
When I'm in the process of selecting a question to respond to for LASplash.com's next Q & A, I carefully go through all the emails that have been sent by readers. I look for certain criteria, an important one of which is to find a unique question not yet submitted. Or at least one that varies in some substantial way from those I've already responded to.
However, shortly after the last Q & A was posted (July 7th), I received such positive feedback about it, plus an extraordinary number of related questions from other parents (from several countries!) who need similar support for their children and teenagers, that I went into a minor state of overwhelm' I really began to realize how many countless numbers of families there are, globally, who wrestle on a daily basis with a difficult child, and how greatly this affects the entire family dynamics. I felt compelled to bring this up, as well as to continue the theme in this Q & A--to hopefully give some inspiration to all those who did email me even though I can't get back to each one individually'
Now, to Nathan. The good news is that I do feel he is about ready to begin some sort of a shift, or turnaround. I feel that you should start noticing a bit of improvement in less than 6 weeks' just about the time school begins. In addition to his ADHD, he's also been going through hormonal changes' which makes any teenage boy difficult to deal with! That comment was not meant at all to make what you're going through seem any less important or real. In fact, what I can see is that the combination of ADHD and his teenage hormonal imbalances have made for somewhat of an explosive situation in the household, and I do very much empathize.
This new school he'll be attending will provide a much better environment for him; there will be many other adolescents with like issues, and trained school counselors to help with this and other related conditions. However, I can see that it is a very large school, and you will need to make sure that you are on top of both getting him to the right counselors and seeing that he attends his sessions with them' otherwise he may get lost in the system.
One of the main reasons he doesn't want to be involved in sports or music is due to the fact that his brother excels in both; he's resisting what he feels would be unfair competition with his brother, with he, Nathan, coming up short. Although any musical instruments in 'band practice,' especially guitar, trombone and drums would be good for him (in various past lives he played these instruments well, and would find it comforting' and' easy to take them up again), there's no point in pushing him to take lessons as he will just continue to resist. If you drop the subject, he may very well come around on his own; also you can mention the family's artistic bent to his upcoming school counselors. Perhaps they can take a new approach in presenting the idea of his getting involved in music, in a way that may work better. Swimming would be excellent for him, as would acting. Swimming is a great calmant for the nervous system and for healing one's emotional body. Taking acting classes would help him find a new outlet for expressing his frustrations. I suggest that you wait until he is in school before you broach either subject to him. In the meanwhile do research on both school activities, perhaps even speaking with the head of the drama department and the swimming coach for suggestions on how to approach the topics.
Please work on your guilt level re how you feel you treat Nathan; my Guides tell me that you have been a very, very caring hands-on mother, about the best that you could be. I'm suggesting that you get some counseling for yourself on your own issues related your son's personality, as well as how to deal with him better. I recommend that you list as many specific instances that you can remember of unacceptable behavior, and ask your therapist for 2 or 3 different ways you could have responded to each scenario better' by reviewing what did happen, plus what could have been different responses, you will automatically begin to understand how to deal more positively with situations that will crop up in the future. Your comment that you 'see him going nowhere very quickly' concerns me a great deal, Denise. Children soak up how their parents feel about them; without your getting help to change this belief, you may unwittingly help him create this becoming a self-fulfilling reality.
Lastly, I feel that it's important that he widen his circle of friends. It looks to me that he has become something of a loner. Starting out in a new, large school could promote that happening even more. I suggest that you seek out some professional advice on how to get him to be more social, perhaps by joining school clubs or attending sporting events. Since high school can be very clique-ish, it's necessary to have him start out in as healthy, positive a way as possible. How he begins his new school life, will have an enormous effect on the entire next 4 years. Do get involved in parental organizations, and meet with each of his teachers fairly early on. There absolutely is hope; changing how you view Nathan and his behavior, plus taking action differently' plus the fact that he's getting ready to deal better with his hormones, anyway' will see a marked improvement, reasonably quickly.
You didn't mention anything about Nathan's father. I feel that he also needs to play a part in everything I've discussed.
I'm not a therapist, Denise; that's why I've mentioned that I feel it would be good for you to find someone who is licensed in that field.
Be patient! And' best of luck,
Please also feel free to 'Google' Victoria Bullis!