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bts9 800pxWhether you have ADHD or not, your matric year is very pressured. For those who have ADHD it can be terrifying which is often covered up with a facade of "I don't care".

If you are parent of an ADHD teen, never believe it. ADDers care deeply and are extremely sensitive.

Because many ADDers have never learned to set goals or think properly due to their distraction and impulsivity they have no clue what they want want to do when they finish school. They will do whatever comes up and impulisively choose something because their friends are doing it, their parents say they must or they have a romantic notion of what their choice is.

It is important to remember that ADDers are generally very bright and capable of achieving anything they put their minds to. The short term gains are good but long term they may have disastrous consequences. Emotionally ADDers are often 2 - 3 years behind their peers and only come into their own in their mid 20s or even 30s.

Here are some questions Parents and their teens need to explore before making that very important decision about what s/he will do when after school.

Going to university

Why are you going to university?

  • Because your friends are
  • Because your parents say you must "get a proper education"
  • The social life will be great
  • It will fill the time while you decide what you really want to do

For many ADDers studying for 3, 4 or 5 years is like a lifetime. You will have to do courses that may hold very little interest for you. There is no spoon feeding, you will have to manage your time.

Perhaps a Technikon is a better option. Short, sharp, practical courses that provide more immediate success may be what you need.

Perhaps going into the workplace and studying via correspondence part time under the mentorship of a boss with on the job training is better. You will learn workplace etiquette, discipline and how the real world operates.

Going to university and failing miserably does not do an ADDer's already fragile self esteem any good.

Are you ready to move into digs?

Escaping home and becoming independent where you can live without parental rules is teenage heaven isn't it?

  • Can you cook?
  • Can you budget?
  • Do you know how to iron?
  • Can you discipline yourself to study without your parents breathing down your neck?
  • How will you get around?

Your housemates will quickly tire of someone who doesn't pull their weight and most ADDers are notoriously untidy.

What are you going to study?

  • Is your degree choice based on your parents / teachers recommendations?
  • Are you going for a general degree so you can decide later? This may not be a bad thing unless you become a "permanent student" so you avoid ever having to make a decision.
  • Have you done any job shadowing in your areas of interest? Becoming a lawyer is not what you see on TV. For the most part it is boring, administrative, requires tons of reading and spending a lot of time sitting around court. Are you able to defend someone you know is guilty?
  • Is your decision based on making a lot of money? Yes accountants often do make lots of money but if you base your career choice solely on how much money you will make, it will not bring satisfaction and happiness.

ADDers are frequently visual, creative people and enjoy exciting, challenging and fast paced jobs. Unfortunately these jobs are often not high paying and the jobs are freelance. But you have to do something that feeds your soul and you are passionate about.

When you are doing what you are passionate about the money will come.

Questions for Parents

All parents want their children to have lives better than they had.

  • Why is it so important for your child to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant ......?
  • Are you trying to live your life through your children? Especially if you have ADHD yourself you probably have low self esteem and your own life has been filled with failures.
  • Can you afford financially to send your child to university?‚
  • Do they have to go to a university far away from home?
  • Have you equipped your child with the skills to manage themselves independently in terms of cooking, shopping, budgeting ... Parents of ADHD children are frequently terrified of them failing that they do everything for them. But.... the message you are sending them is that you don't believe they are capable of doing these things for themselves. They have to learn to bump their heads and take the consequences.

ADDers frequently tend to be risk takers and have addictive personalities. This can lead to problems with driving too fast, without a licence, drinking and driving etc. An advanced driving course is helpful. Encourage them to take responsibility for cleaning and maintaining their cars. They need to learn to take responsibility. Is the car insurance in the driver's name? If they have an accident and the parent is the insured party you may not get paid out.

Is your teenager doing part time work helping to pay his/her way?

Often ADDer families run their own businesses. Is it right to give your child a job in the business? Even if you want your child to take over the business one day it is a good idea to send them into the outside world to gain experience and then come back with something concrete to offer.

A gap year can be risky because they may never go back to study. On the other hand, if a teen is not ready for tertiary study, a gap year might well help as the s/he will not achieve at college and it will have cost you a fortune anyway. A gap year doesn't mean lying in bed all day and partying all night. They must work, travel and a great option to consider is applying to Disney World to work as a student guide.

Now is the time to engage constructively with your teenager. It is a scary and confusing time.

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