Dear Harlan: My youngest child is graduating from high school this week. He has been our toughest kid in terms of keeping him on the rails. He has ADHD and has struggled with behavioral issues. His academics have also been shaky, to say the least. He has worked hard to pass his classes. He excels in his social life. He plays sports, has a close group of friends and a girlfriend. He is planning to go to college next year. He is attending a large state school where I’m afraid he will get lost in the crowd. I’m also unsure how he will keep up with his academics given that we’ve had to help him so much in the past. I don’t think my kid is ready for college. He barely graduated. He really wants to go, but my husband and I are having serious doubts. Would it be terrible to have him go to community college for a year? That’s not his first choice.
— Concerned Mom
Dear Concerned Mom: Your son sounds confident, comfortable and ready for what’s next. On the other hand, you don’t. I understand the reluctance. I imagine you’ve been his advocate and No. 1 supporter for the past 18 years. You have helped him, paved the path and saved him. Maybe it’s time to let him take the wheel. Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable to think of him doing it all by himself, but he might be ready. Why not let him figure it out? Why not let him surprise you? Instead of telling a story of doom and gloom, tell a story of hope and faith. Ask him why he wants to go to college. Listen to his reasons. Help him identify resources that he can tap into should he need help and support. Ask him if he has a plan to make his big school small. Suggest he contact Student Disability Services and learn about academic resources and accommodations that are available. Suggest he connect with other students with ADHD. If you are concerned about the transition, you should reach out to the school’s family and parent office and share your concerns with someone who can support you. Also visit chadd.org to connect with other parents who have been there and done it. With the right resources, a plan and parents who can direct him, he might be ready for what’s next. And if you still feel he’s just not ready, community college is an amazing option as well.