blog | Feb 4, 2014 | 2 Comments

My ADHD Son is 16 Today

As I write this post, my son, my firstborn, my baby boy has turned 16.  And the best thing about this day is how absolutely excited and proud  I am of the man he is growing up to be.  As with all birthdays for your children, there is the  flood of memories that come rushing in from their fat cheeked baby days, to the toddling, how many birthday cakes you’ve baked and skinned knees you’ve soothed.  However, for an ADHD mom, it’s way more than that. It’s sleepless nights worrying about medication and school and the latest knock out drag out you’ve had with your child.  It’s wondering if you’re doing the right thing, wondering why the teachers and the schools won’t do the right thing, it’s a vicious cycle of maddening unknowns.  And in your deepest heart of heart, you worry and wonder, what will become of this beautiful gift of a child with a big heart and so many talents that so few seem willing to acknowledge.


I know you, I’ve been you, I am you.


Today I want to give you hope and peace and a friendly rub on the back and a knowing smile.  I smile today because it is working out far better than I ever dreamed.  My lowest point was 4 years ago when my son was just finishing 6th grade.  He was depressed, the school was a joke, and I felt lost and hopeless.  So instead of changing everyone else, I decided to change me.  I was the only one that seemed to be at all invested in my son’s heart and I cared far more about his heart than I did his math grade.  You can find much of our journey in these previous posts and I’m working hard to finish a book that will take you on more of our journey but for today let me summarize.

First, we paid the price to really understand ADHD, both my son and I.  I studied and learned and then I taught him so he could own and understand his unique path.  We tried some things that worked and we tried some things that didn’t and we tried them together.  I listened to his feedback and advice on everything from the right notebook/backpack system to fit his brain, to how he would remember to take his meds in the afternoon.  I listened more than I spoke, that was a big change.  I got to know his care and his concerns and his heart but only after he trusted that I was there to listen and really understand.

Once we understood, then we could take responsibility.  He began to own his treatment with medication reminders and understanding the timing and the dose.  Then we took responsibility to find a school that would be a better fit for him.  We decided to stop trying to fit into a system that didn’t really want us and find a school that embraced us. We explored options together and ultimately found a public charter Montessori school that was the perfect answer for him and his heart.  He jumped in wholeheartedly to this new group and was quickly rewarded with some of the most amazing friends he’s ever had.  And just as important as anything else, we helped our son dive head first into guitar lessons and music and song writing, a passion and a love I know he’ll have his entire life.

And then an amazing thing happened, my son started becoming an advocate not only for himself but for the other ADHD kids in his school and in our circle.  Parents wanted my son to talk to their kids because our son made them not afraid of their ADHD.

Sure there are still days when he can’t find both shoes and he forgets his homework more than we’d like but he’s whole, he’s happy, he’s going to do amazing things in this world.  He’s using his heart and his compassion in his music and his writing.   He’s going to struggle with math grades for the rest of his school career and that’s just something he’s accepting that he needs to work harder and tough it out.  And that’s a good lesson for anyone.

So here are 6  things I wish I would have known 6 years ago when my guy was 10 and I spent a lot of time crying in my closet. I wish I would have started these earlier.  I wish I could have seen into the future and seen this really cool teenager that is my son.

1. Smile at them more.  Worry in private about the challenges and smile and encourage them in public.  Let them see and feel your love and support and encouragement.

2. Think of their heart more than their grades.  School will end and if it ends with their heart and their confidence in tact that will serve you all better than a 4.0 .

3. Invest in their passions.  Whatever it is they love, share it with them, encourage them, everyone needs something they can rock.  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as they love it.  Music, Star Wars, basketweaving, run with their strengths.

4. Take care of you.  When you’re tired and stressed, you spread it around.  I know you don’t feel like you have any time, but you do.  You just have to choose to use it for you.  Lock yourself in the bathroom for a bubble bath and a great magazine, schedule a visit with a friend,  go for a run, go to bed early, take a class, do something to fill you back up.  You running on empty isn’t all that helpful.

5. Great grades aren’t a guarantee for a great life maybe put a pause on the freaking out.  We could line up a laundry list of highly successful people that stunk at school.  Chill out just a bit.

6. Find the joy in your child again.  It’s there buried under lots of frustrating events and situations but I promise you, it’s there in their heart and yours.


Happy Birthday, Dude.  You Rock.


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So awesome. What a great guy! Happy birthday, Dude! You ARE a rockstar!! 🙂

Kiley Ohl


I love this post and I love your blog! Thank you for sharing. I am new to all of this, as my son is 8. Your post was an inspiration to me 😉




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