Cut the Cord, Parents!

When our oldest son began 6th grade, over the course of many conversations varying in topic, I began to share with him that it was time to start speaking for himself at school.  

Meaning: less of me and much more of him.

I felt like it was a conversation that required a loud booming voice over saying, “You are now leaving the little kid zone where parents and teachers speak for you. You, my son, can now activate your own voice!  Welcome to Middle School!”

At this age, your teen must start developing self-advocacy.  While I know this skill is years in the making, the conversation needs to begin in Middle School, so Parents, it’s time to cut the cord – yes, it really is…it’s time.  You can do it!

The one main reason why students need to understand their ADHD and advocate for themselves:  COLLEGE. I recently attended a local meeting where the speaker was the local Learning Disability Director from a community college.  She shared how college students with LDs want to “do it on their own” but fail classes because they are not communicating their needs with their teachers.  Sound familiar?

When your child has ADHD and is college bound, here are some examples of how they must OWN their ADHD:  

  • They have to know when to schedule their classes based on their medication and when it is most effective, or when their brain is most tuned in

  • They have to be able to explain why they need a separate testing room   

  • They may need to explain why they need study guides and notes in advance

  • They need to know what helps in class – if they need earbuds to stay focused in the classroom, or extra time on tests.

  • And most importantly, they need to know how to communicate all these things in a way that their needs will be met

All of these accommodations are very typical in secondary education, and so are the parents who are communicating with the teachers and the school.  

But this is NOT so in post secondary! Post Secondary education is all about the student…if they don’t speak up and OWN their ADHD and advocate, they will not be successful.  

Parents, it’s time to cut the cord…sorry not sorry!  It is. Start letting go of being the conduit between your teen and the school.  In a few years, you will not be there for them to ask, so they need to start thinking independently for themselves.  Challenge them to do this! How?

One easy way — When your teen has questions on homework and projects, don’t be the first to jump in and tell them what to do and give them the solutions – who is that helping???  Allow them to figure it out and ask them what they need to do to find the answers. Who do they need to contact and how do they plan on doing this? This may entail going to help sessions (managing their time after school), meeting teachers during lunch (managing their time in school), asking to talk to teachers after a class (face to face conversation in school).  This teaches them to think for themselves and be 3 steps ahead. It’s helping them plan; to realize when/where they need help, to be proactive, to be responsible.

Remember our main goal: Understanding, Owning and Succeeding with their ADHD.  

With much GrADDitude,