When To Let Go: Fostering Independence

Jodie Dawson

What does it mean to foster independence? We consider this all the time, especially since one of our worst fears is being labeled the denigrating term, “Helicopter Parent.” When do we move from being caring, compassionate parents to a piece of machinery? Is this what teachers are calling us behind our backs as we advocate and get a grasp on our children, their diagnoses and their educational and emotional needs? When we stand strong as parents, are others judging us for giving a voice to our children’s needs?

These are questions that come to my mind and the minds of many parents whom I have worked with over the years. Inevitably, when a child is diagnosed with any type of medical or emotional label, at any age, the rules change about our level of involvement in our child’s life. We want to find out everything we can about how to help. We research, we talk, we consult, we meet, we probe, we advocate…and the list goes on.

When that child has ADHD, we also take on many of the executive functioning skills that are lacking. We become CEO’s since s/he challenges in the areas of planning, time management, and organization. We become homework monitors, schedulers, planners, project managers, time managers, list makers, file organizers, paper editors, and many other roles. We compensate.

The larger question becomes, “At what point, do you let go of being the CEO of your child’s life?” This is a critical question to begin asking yourself. It’s not easy. We have many fears around the concept of “letting go.” While this applies to all parents, it is different for those of us whose children REALLY need us to help them with their executive functioning skills. Many of us fear that if we let go, everything will fall apart. With children in high school, fears creep in about letting go and college, or having things fall apart so that college isn’t an option.

When you are ready to begin to really think about this question for yourself, your child and your family, here are a few questions to consider:

There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Only you, as your child’s parent, know what is right for you and your family. It is important you have all of the information you need in order to make informed choices about when and how to let go. Look to teachers, other parents, a coach, or the ImpactADHD community for a start. And then…trust yourself. When you’re really honest with yourself with the questions above, you’ll know how and when the time is right.

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