Parenting a child with ADHD ….the fine line between helping and enabling


My thirteen year old son’s progress report came in the mail today.  I was sick to my stomach before I even opened it.  I knew it wouldn’t be good, he hasn’t had a good one in years.  My son, Aiden (he has the same name as my guy’s son) was diagnosed with ADHD minus the hyperactivity (not just ADD then?  I don’t know) a few years ago.  He has never been in any trouble at school, I’ve been told repeatedly by teachers and staff that he’s a great kid.  He just can’t focus and has a hard time learning.

I knew he was different from my other two boys from the very beginning.  As an infant, I swore he hated me.  He would cry for hours on end and in turn, have me in tears as well.  As a toddler, he never backed down from a tantrum.  The methods that I used on my older son had no effect on him.  Before starting school, I tried to teach him his letters and numbers beforehand, as I had with my older son.  I could not get past the letter B.  Repetition did nothing for him.  I put him in a two year kinder class and hoped for the best.  He was always a bit behind but socialized well and was making it through.  Up until the fifth grade.  I started getting alarming report cards.  He was falling way behind.  I started meeting with teachers, principals and counselors.  I did all of the things that were suggested.  It didn’t help.  At one of the meetings, the principal suggested that I take him to get screened for ADD.  I had always suspected this but just really didn’t want to make it a reality.


I took him to get evaluated by a psychologist and he was formally diagnosed with ADHD (minus the hyperactivity).  It literally broke my heart sitting there reading those reports.  I wanted him to “grow out of it”.  I wanted better for him.  So I took what I had back to the school and we drew up a formal 504 plan.  Personally, I feel that with a 504 plan, if you have the right teacher who truly understands and is there to help and accommodate the child with their disability, it does help.  If you don’t, it really doesn’t.  He had an excellent teacher in the sixth grade (still elementary school here) who really helped him out and he did better.

Now enter junior high with seven separate classes and seven separate teachers.  Right away, the negative progress reports started rolling back in.  I was told that the 504 plan would roll over to the junior high, it didn’t, they didn’t know about it.  I called his teachers, I met with his counselor, we etched out a new 504 plan.  It has not helped.  However, I have not been taking accountability as his parent.  I have not been double checking the online portal for missing assignments, I have been taking his word for it when he says he has no homework for the day.  I have been letting him spend his time playing his PS4 for hours every day.  I haven’t been dealing with it like I know that I have to.  I wanted to follow my own belief that at thirteen, he knows what he has to do and therefore, he will do it.  Maybe I was still hoping that he would “grow out of it”, denial is a beast.  What I have found with Aiden though, is that he’s easily overwhelmed when he doesn’t understand and so he just acts like it doesn’t exist.  Sounds like me.  I’ve been treating him the same way that I would treat my other two sons and as I should know by now, I CAN’T.  He’s different, he has a learning disability and he has given up.

Back to the progress report today, he is failing almost all of his classes so far, including PE.  This was the big eye opener for me today as he is very athletic and has no reason to fail PE.  This tells me that he has given up trying.  I have always told him that I won’t be upset as long as I know and can tell that he’s trying his best.  He is not trying at all.   I have to immediately A) hold him accountable and B) help him.  I hate micromanaging and I have to accept that at least for now, this child needs the micromanagement.  I took the PS4 from the room and won’t be giving it back until each grade goes up and I will help him to do this however I can while checking myself to make sure that I’m helping him and not enabling him.