Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ODD, homeschooling and difficult kids

On one of my homeschool forums, a mom asked how to cope with and homeschool kids with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) Some information on what ODD is can be found at:

Here is a very short description of ODD behaviors. This behavior usually lasts longer than 6 months.
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Argumentativeness with adults
  • Refusal to comply with adult requests or rules
  • Deliberate annoyance of other people
  • Blaming others for mistakes or misbehavior
  • Acting touchy and easily annoyed
  • Anger and resentment
  • Spiteful or vindictive behavior
  • Aggressiveness toward peers
Here is my re-edited reply to this mom's question:

I have an 18dd that was diagnosed at 5 with ADHD/ODD. She's been homeschooled for all but 6 weeks in 4th grade. She went for the first 6 weeks of 4th grade, made 7 A's and a B. I then pulled her out again. (Long story why she was there in the first place. Not a legal problem, but a gossip's problem) Anyway, this is our saga and some of my ideas for dealing with these kids.

When my daughter was 5, I was concerned about her behavior and took her to see a psychiatrist that her father was seeing. The MD's office had made a mistake and double booked everybody that day, so I ended up hanging around his office (with not only the 5dd, but a 2ds and a 3month dd) for about 6 hours. I was determined to see him. Finally at about 6pm, he saw us. Needless to say that by then, her behavior was off the Richter scale. He observed her for 2 hours, all the while asking me questions about her behavior and scoring it on a questionnaire he had. She was into everything in his office. Being mom and trying to get her to behave, I was correcting her a lot. He said to just leave her be , he wanted to observed her. After it was all said and done, he discussed his findings and put her on Ritalin for the ADHD. Two weeks later we moved to North GA. Six weeks later I went to a shelter for battered women, taking the kids with me.

It took about two and a half months to figure out that the MD's reasoning for the Ritalin didn't work for me. Plus, she hated taking it. (She still remembers how it made her feel.) So I discontinued giving it to her. It took about a year after leaving her dad - 4 months after the divorce was finalized, for her behavior to settle down, some.

Part of her problem was the abuse in the house. We were always walking on egg shells with dad. Dad would do stuff to the kids and mom would run interference. So I was always on her case to "behave", so she wouldn't set him off. When that problem was no longer there, things settled down, some. As time passed and I could discipline her without his interference we made great strides.(poor baby girl-Mommy's picking on you or screaming at her/me for not making her "behave" or him slapping/teasing her)

Part of the problem was that this was a child that from 11 months to 3 1/2 years old was constantly down on the floor in a tantrum. One day I lost count at about noon. She had already been on the floor THIRTY-SIX times! I did what the books suggested and just walked away, but it didn't stop them. (sometimes she'll STILL tantrum)

What helped her a lot with the tantrums was getting her in an isolated spot. Be it her nose in a corner or in her room until she could get herself calmed down. When she was calm, she could come out. Scolding/yelling at her only made it worse. Loud noise made her worse. So we have to keep the music/voice levels down. I'm not talking about yelling AT her, I'm talking about the general volume of the house. Some of these kids are very noise-sensitive. She still plugs her ears to do the vacuuming! She's also very sensitive to activity levels. If there's too much going on, she can't settle down to eat, sleep or study. Too much going on can be physical (herself/people/things moving around) or emotional (worry, anger, joy, excitement, etc.)

Truth is, at 18 she is STILL ODD, but she has greatly improved with age. On occasion, she can still get on her high horse and ride. She can still be terribly mouthy/rude to us, but each year, she's doing it less and less. And she's really trying hard not to act that way with her boyfriend. I hear her using good communication skills with him. So I've called her on that one. If she can use it with him, why doesn't she use it with us? It got her to stop and think. Again, she's working on it.

Kids with ADHD and ODD are: fire, ready, aim. As they get older, it becomes ready, fire, aim. Only in their late teens to early 20's do they finally get to: ready, aim, fire. In other words, they do stuff, then they think about what they were doing, and only when it's too late, do they think about whether or not they SHOULD they have done it. As they mature, they will will think about what they are doing, still do things, but then they will think about whether or not it was a good idea. It takes adulthood, coupled with some good parenting to teach them to think about what they want to do, consider whether or not it's right and THEN decide to do it (or not to do it.)

How we homeschooled? We unschooled. I tried everything else with her and nothing worked. She fought me like a tiger, there were tears on both sides, threats of public school or a spanking. Nothing worked. You cannot stuff knowledge into a kid's head, you cannot beat knowledge into them, you cannot yell and scream knowledge into them. You cannot cry knowledge into them. You cannot doom and gloom it into them.

They have got to want it AND they have got to have the switches turned on in the brain to understand what you're trying to teach them.. When they want it, NEED it AND their brains are physically ready, then and only then will they learn it and not a second before then. My babies were all premies and I'm dealing with a variety of "dyses" and learning problems with 2 of the 3 but I had to learn the hard way about wanting to do something and having to be physically ready to do it. This is with kids who have IQ's in the 130-140 range, so we're not dealing with low mental abilities. (I know their IQ's because that was one of the things that they were tested for when they were tested for all the dyses - dyscalcula, dysgraphia, dyslexia, auditory processing issues, tracking issues, ADD, ADHD, ODD, etc... that they have.)

At 3 the oldest was very verbal. She could tell me the alphabet. She could tell me the sound the letters made. Ergo, she should be able to read, yes? NO! I tried to teach her, but she just didn't "get it". So after a few short sessions, I realized she wasn't ready and put the stuff away for a year. Tried a few short session. Still not ready. Put it away again. Now she's 5 and ready for "school". Nope, still not ready. She's 6, a little more pressure on me to get her reading. After all, she's got an IQ of 130 and the other "properly schooled" kids are reading. She's still not ready, so I put it away. Now she's 7. People are beginning give me a really bad time about it! I think perhaps if I teach her to spell she can read. NOPE. How do you spell "about"...a-b-o-u-t. Good, that's right. What sounds do these letters make? (a b ow t) What's this word? (aaa bbb owww ttt) She sound it very slowly out. Until she was over 8 years old, she never could just read this word. She'd sound it out as if she'd never seen it before, even though she could quickly spell it. And it wasn't just this word. It was every word!

From the time she was 5 until she was 8, every few months I would bring out the reading and try her. I tried using the same materials, I tried a variety of different materials, I tried an older set of basal readers I was given, I tried "how to teach you child to read" books. Poor as we were (on welfare at the time and living in public housing) I scrounged up $25 a month to pay the $285 for Hooked on Phonics. NOTHING worked.

But something happened 2 weeks after her 8th birthday. I was out on the porch with her and we were looking at a kindergarten basal reader. She was very laboriously sounding out words. Then she looked up at me with a shocked look on her face, her mouth dropped open, her eyes shot big and I could see the light bulb come on. Something clicked inside her head. Then she just started reading! By the time she was 9, she was reading on grade level. By the time she was 12 she was at college level. (I let her spend every minute reading. Children's classics, abridged adult classics, junk, whatever would keep her reading. She did nothing but read all day long. She could even read the scriptures.)

Then there was spelling. Or rather not spelling. At 13 I was sure I had ruined this kid by not putting her in school. was=wuz, please=plese, what=wut. And on it went. At 15, the light clicked on again, and now she spells very well.

That brings us to math. sigh. When she was 6 I tried to teach her to count to 100 by ones. She just couldn't get it. I tried manipulatives, I tried making a flash card with 3 places cut out that I then strung 3 pieces of paper through with the numbers 0-9 on them so she could see how when she changed one number, it went up and that when you got back to 0 you had to change the next place over. I talked about how there was a law that only 0-9 could live in one house. If there were more than 9, everybody went to the next address and the first house was empty until more people moved in. Nothing worked. So I put it away. A month later, she came into my room and said "mom, I can count to 100" and proceeded to do so. Go figure!

I guess her brain just needed time to process the information and for that particular switch to turn on. It's been the pulling hen's teeth to get her to do any math. So I put it away and would bring it out again later. She still doesn't "get it" and I still can't get her to do much by way of math. She has dyscalcula - a problem processing numbers. Until this past summer, when you said "quarter of/after" she would say "oh, 25 before/after".

Even though she had worked as a waitress, when she started at the customer service desk, she had problems counting the change up at the beginning and end of the day. She also couldn't add in her head. After two month working retail, all of a sudden she can add in her head and she can go from counting quarters to dimes without it messing with her head. (mom doing happy dance!) She is very slowly building math skills, but she's still has a ways to go. However, she just bought her own math curriculum, so perhaps she'll get down to it and finally DO it! (But why do it, if your brain neither understands it or retains it?)

This is supposed to be her last year of homeschool. I've been telling her for the last 2 years, that if she can pass any ACT/SAT/GED/State Exit test on line, I'll give her a diploma. If she can't she doesn't get one. She has been reading at post collage level for years, she can keep her checkbook, make good financial decisions (her PS friends get HER to look on line for THEM to tell them what is the best deal on cell phones, or other things they want to buy), she's the customer service manager at a local department store with several hundred dollars she is responsible for maintaining. But on paper or in her head, she can't divide, she can't multiply very well, she can do some fractions (but she still has to ask me where the 1 1/4 line is on our measuring cup) really, she can't do math worth squat on paper or in her head. She's fine with a calculator. She has a very high IQ, but if she were tested on "school stuff"- on paper, she would score a lot lower that what she can actually do. This is not a problem with testing per se, she's a good test-taker, but her inability to look at a problem and being able to work it out in her head.

She needs some work on English mechanics: how to write an essay. But even at 18 getting her to do "assignments" is just this side of futile. Oh, the reason for having her past any test of the afore mentioned tests is that to get into college, she's going to have to pass their tests. She has gaps in her knowledge that I'm trying to get her to fill. These are gaps that would keep her out of college and that her friends make comments to her about, so they really need to be addressed; if for no other reason than her own self-esteem. I'd like her to go to college, but that would have to be her choice.

In the end, we provide "school" opportunities. Whether or not they avail themselves of it is their choice. This is true whether they go to public school, private school or home school.

One trick with ODD kids is to not go toe-to-toe with them. Because no matter if you win or lose the argument, you've lost. These are kids that just have to zag when everyone else is zigging. I was like that when I was younger. Life beats some of it out of you, time takes care of the rest of it. The thing is now, I can remember being like that but I don't know WHY I felt like that. Literally, if "everyone" was doing "it", I had to do something different. I wish I could remember WHY I felt compelled to be that way. And compelled is the correct word.

ODD is a weakness, but I've had to look at ODD as her strength, too. This is a kid that no one can pressure into doing something she thinks is wrong. So I've learned to go in the back door with things. I've learned to give her lots of choices. Yes, there are times that NO has to be NO. These kids are especially tough to govern. You can't EVER let No = maybe. On a good day, they will argue you to the ends of the earth, but if no ever means maybe, you're sunk!

I did have to learn to say, "This is my decision and this is what we're going to do." But that's a HUGE gun that I save for only the most critical things. (say tatoos, piercings, having you teeth cleaned, etc.) Know that the more you try to "force" them to do what's right, the more they rebel. I'm not sure about other kids, but this kid was extremely verbal at a very young age. She knew what she wanted. She knew what she didn't want. And she was willing to tell you. So the trick was to get her to "want" what you wanted for her.

I'm not into "reverse psychology". I think it rewards bad behavior. If we want them to do x and tell them NOT to do x so they will do it, we are rewarding disobedience and they will not outgrow that. Instead, we need to reason with them. Yes, it causes a lot of "discussions", seemingly about everything. But if we will talk with them before we say no, we can oft times get them to come around to our point of view. Then they don't feel like they have to stand up to us. Over time, I've found out that if I reason with her, she is more willing to do what needs to be done. (And yes, these kids do LOVE to set things up to argue about.) It's hard to know just where the line is between letting them be a law unto themselves and giving them choices. I truly think it depends on the particular moment and that particular child. I don't think there's going to be any hard and fast rules with them. Prayer is the only thing that has gotten me through all this!

These kids are "time-intensive" kids. I'm up til 3 in the morning talking with dd. It seems that between 12am and 3am is when she's most calm. It's when I get the "real" person, not the defiant one. There's a lot of counseling going on at that hour. But then, since I'm a single mom, I've got to get back up at 7 to deal with the other kids. There's no one to split the late night hours with. (Ex is as bad as a child, so he's no help! He's more defiant than she is.) It's hard to deal with the other kids in the family, but there's a great need to see that they don't slip between the cracks. My youngest has and I didn't find that out until too late. She's now living at dad's and going wild. Short of hiring a lawyer, there's nothing I can do to get her back, except pray that they all get tired of each other and she gets sent back home. But since he thinks he's found the way to get out of paying child support, that probably won't happen. So again, all I can do is pray.

Another thing is, we're all going to make mistakes. These kids just want to make every one in the book. Sometimes we have to let them. THEN, don't rub their noses in the mistake. They will kick themselves farther down the road than we would have the heart to do IF we don't say "I told you so". If we do, they they will be too busy justifying what they did and not learn from the experience.

To whit, several times I suggested to my daughter that she not get a cell phone plan just yet. She just started a new (part-time) job. She's been out of work for about 9 months, has expenses that need paying and since she's only been at the store for about 2 months now, she really needed to finish paying off some family debts before she contracted for a phone. Did she listen? NO! She did do a bunch of research on the phone and plan she wanted. Finally, this past week, she contracted with them for the phone. But, gasp, it cost more than it looked like it would. So she was short on money. (Just like mom said would happen.) Boy was she SORRY! She repeated it over and over again that she wished she had waited.

She, her boyfriend, dad and aunt were planning a road trip to go see a free "Ozfest" - Ozzie Osborne and a bunch of others of that ilk in concert. (yeah, I know, but she's 18. And dear dad was instigating this, grrrr. sigh) After buying the phone (which was more than she had thought it would be) she ran short of money. I could have "taught her a lesson". I could have said something about "telling her so". I also could have made it impossible for her to go to the concert. I did seriously considered making her pay me the gas money she owes me and missing the concert. But then I got to thinking. This young woman is usually very good about paying her debts. She's been very good about helping me out - especially since dad's not paying any support again. There have been times I've borrowed money from her. So I had a choice to make. Was it worth rubbing her nose in her mistake? Would she learn more by missing the concert because both she and the CSR for the phone company made a mistake on the bill and it cost more than she was told it would be? Or would she learn more by being treated kindly?

If this were a person who was careless about her finances and expected mom to bail her out, it wouldn't have happened. Instead, I chose to remember the times, as a mature adult, that I've made a misjudgment on my finances and someone has helped me out. Didn't I deserve to be "taught a lesson"? Yup, but, normally I'm a very responsible person. I made a mistake. And I was ever so grateful for a friend bailing me out. So I bailed my daughter out. She will pay me back with her next paycheck. She's always paid back her loans. I've always paid back my loans. It's called family. It's called love. On this particular issue, I thought that love was more important than the "financial" lesson. She already knows that one. And I never mentioned her mistake with the phone, nor will I mention it.

The best thing to do to cope with any child is love, love, love. Observe them, look deep into their eyes. Better yet, get a picture of them. The eyes are the mirror of the soul. Look and see if you see happiness their eyes. No one works well if he/she isn't happy.

Sometimes when we least deserve love is when we need it the most. Sometimes when we have least "earned" a break is when we need one the most. Sometimes when life is tough and all you're getting is an argument, stop what you're doing and go to the park, lake, wherever you can afford to go. Get away, have a picnic or light the grill and cookout on the porch. Do something different. Because the kids "deserve it"? No, because you need to break the negative cycle that's going on. Stop being "mom" and be "human". Have fun with them Do something crazy. Swim with your clothes on, lick the ice cream that's running down you hand, instead of wiping it off with a napkin. Hey, smear it on THEIR face. Just something to break the tension in you and them. Something to make each other laugh (that's not mean to or makes fun of someone else!). When you're done, EVERYONE will be in a better mood! Try to have a good belly-laugh with them every day. It makes life easier.

Have family council. Use a "talking stick". For those who don't know what I'm talking about, a talking stick is anything (use to be a carved wooden stick that the Native Americans used) that identifies who has "the floor". If you're not holding the stick, you can't talk. Everyone gets a turn with the stick, no one is allowed to hog it (including parents!). One issue at a time is talked about. (Use a pad and pen to write down other issues that they want to talk about. This way you can stay on the issue at hand, yet not forget the other issues they want to bring up.) We've used odd sticks from outside (make 'em small, no hitting with it allowed lol), a flashlight, a cardboard tube, a piece of paper, anything that the person talking can wave at those who try to interrupt. (If you have a family flag that's not too big, use that. Or make a smaller version of it.) When the person talking is done, the "stick" can be passed to the next person in the circle, the person who raises their hand first, or just put in the middle of the circle for the next person that wants it to pick up - decide ahead of time how you will do it or..... lol

We attack problems, not people. Teach the kids how to say "When this happens...., I feel....". With some of these kids, you're going to have to teach them about feelings before they can verbalize them. Yes, we all feel things, but describing how I felt was a learned task for me. I couldn't just tell someone how I felt. I still have a bit of a problem in that area. (How am I feeling now??? What do you mean, "how am I feeling now"? (puzzled face) I'm not feeling, I'm thinking!) Also telling how you feel without attacking someone else is, for many, a learned skill. All of your children may have learned these skills by watching you and your husband. But there are some kids that DON'T learn by watching. You have to instruct them, verbally. And they CAN'T tell you that they don't know how to do this. You will see it by how they act. They either come at you all claws and teeth or they bottle things until they don't care what happens and explode. In my family, I never remarried so I don't have a husband and they are too young to remember how I tried to defuse the situation before I left my ex. They have only seen how ex and his wife interact. NOT GOOD! And that I try to verbalize with them this way doesn't seem to count for much in learning how to verbalize to others. They have needed instructions from me on HOW to do this.

Raising kids is a tough job. Raising ODD/ADHD kids leaves you feeling like a complete failure - at least while your raising them. It's only now that my daughter is becoming an adult, that I can see any fruits of my labors - at all! And she still has a ways to go.

Many days I still feel like I've failed in raising my kids. I tell them NO. Dad, who lives near by, tells them yes. I try to discipline a negative behavior, he undisciplines, telling them I'm wrong. I take them to church and try to teach them to walk after the ways of Christ, he watches "the Osbornes" with them. (I called over to the other house and this vile show was on. All I could hear every few seconds was a beeping noise. I asked what the noise was and they tell me that it was the "f" word being bleeped out. They didn't bleep the rest of the nasty language out.) I tell them we aren't going to do that in this house, he says come live with him and do as you please.

I've just recently come to the conclusion that it's my job to teach them the best that I know how and to set an excellent example before them. Whether or not they learn the lessons the easy way or the hard way is up to them. ALL kids will make mistakes, ODD kids seem to make more than most. But they do seem to come out of it in the end. Just never give up on them. Love them through not doing their school work, love them through leaving your faith, love them through making bad choices, love them through being just plain rebellious. In the end, your love will be the thing that re-centers them and draws them back to their faith, helps them learn from their mistakes and brings them home to you.

Being a good mom (or dad!) is like being the man that the Lord asked to stand and push against a gigantic boulder. Day after day, the man pushed as hard as he could. Year after year he stayed on task, pushing this gigantic, immobile rock. One day, someone told him he was wasting his life and asked him why he bothered. He got nothing out of it and he was never going to be able to succeed at move that boulder.

His reply was that yes, he had gotten something out of it! The years of pushing had strengthened his muscles. His arms and legs were corded masses, he could lift anything that needed to be lifted. And as far as not succeeding, he replied that yes he was too a success. The Lord hadn't asked him to move the rock, only to push on it. He had successfully done that every day since the request was first made of him.

Sometimes our "success" isn't apparent to those looking on. They criticize our handling of our life and the lives of our children. They are just sure "if only....", then we wouldn't be having the problems we are having. But only God knows if we're doing what he put us here for, what he asked us to do. He gave each of us the children we have, knowing our weaknesses as well as theirs. Our strengths as well as theirs. He alone knows what hardships we've faced and challenges we've overcome. He alone knows what challenges and hardships our children have overcome. All we are required to do is to keep on task. Keep pushing on that immovable rock.

We are to ask for help, then listen with love to advice given us. Then with Him sort through the thoughts we have been given, seeking out what's best for our family. If we need to change something, then change it. If not, then just keep pushing! In the end we will have been a success - whether or not the world agrees.


Unknown said...

I know this is from a few years ago but I have to comment. This is exactly the advice and encouragement I need for my life and my children. Thank you so much for being open and honest and providing real advice.
Thank you and God Bless,

Unknown said...

I was going to say the same as Jessica, so "ditto".


Darlene said...

You're both welcome and thank YOU for the comments.

April said...

I just found your blog for my mom (at her request to find blogs of ADHD homeschooling parents) the other day. She immediately sent back to me and said that I could get something out of this for my ADHD child who is in the private school system. I read this post this morning after finding out that my nine year old lied, yet again, about something with school. Thank you! Thank you for sharing your problems with the world because I will be using some of your suggestions to try to help my son where nothing else has worked. You are a God-send today.

Anonymous said...

I am trying not to cry right now after reading your post. It hits very close to home with me. I homeschool my 8ds and it has been mostly hell with a little bit of heaven. I want to homeschool him but I'm coming to the realization that he is ODD and is just not a candidate for a classical education, which is how I teach. Thank you for sharing that an unschooling approach with an ODD child is best and it will turn out okay in the end.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your post! I loved mostly that I'am not alone and there is hope in the future for my 11 yr old son with ODD and AdHD..I have a story as well, somewhat similiar to you except my abuse was mental.I homeschooled for yrs then when my husband left me and my children I put them in public school. This past year I watched my son fall apart and took him out of public school. We are now back to unschooling and he is better, but not without challenges. Thank yu for being honest and sharing your story.

Jenn said...

Oh my goodness! I can't believe how this hits home! I homeschool my Daughter, to the dismay of all the professionals that we are attempting to work with in order to help our 8 year old with her behavioral problems. We are continually being told to put her into public school, even though she ONLY shows oppositional behavior with my Husband and I. She has been academically tested and is of above average intelligence. She also copes well in social situations. When pressed as to why they suggest public schooling they say it is for socialization, which is such a cop out in my opinion, since socially she is OK. The professionals seem to discount totally the idea that she MUST learn to respect and deal with her parents appropriately so all will go well for her. The concept os Ephesians 6:1-3 seems to be totally lost on these people, and it'f both sad and frustrating. Just last week I had to yet again defend our RIGHT to choose homeschooling to yet more therapists and Doctors, which is even more frustrating as my Husband is Active Duty and fights daily for us to maintain this right. I know that I can't be the only parent who home schools a child with special behavior needs, so it is good to find other people who have things to share. One idea I came across on Pinterest was a PVC pipe with an elbow at each end. It was made for children with speech difficulties, so they can really hone in on their own sounds. Though my Daughter doesn't have any speech issues, I decided it would be great for her, with a modified application. I'm calling ours the "Courtesy Call" Basically, when she starts winding up, she will have to say her argument/rude comment/yell into the phone to hear it for herself first. If it sounds bad to her from herself, I figure that she will understand better how she is coming across to those that she is in conflict with. I plan to use it too, to model the behavior and also to improve my own tones and speech patterns. Wish ,e luck - I could use a break through! :) I may just have to start my own blog to report on my findings. Thanks again for posting. I found this particular entry invaluable!

jampss said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. It really hit home for me homeschooling my ADHD/ODD son, 8 yrs. And some things I remember from with ADHD/Asperger's daughter, 20 yrs. It's so hard not to take their words/outbursts/disrespect personally.

Anonymous said...

Almost 6 years later and this blog keeps giving back... imagine all those who have read it, but have not posted... For me this post is a Godsend. I homeschool 2 boys -- 8 yo ODD and 6 yo strong willed. Its not pretty! Our homeschool doesn't look at all like what the books have depicted :) My son started hiss ODD behavior around 2 yo but i never really started to notice until age 6. I started to mention it to other "friends" who were also HSers around age 7... until I realized these so called friends would use it to their advantage... like the one gal whose son would always get in trouble at coop (my kids were like angels at coop) who suddenly started to try and push the kids bad behavior off on my son that somehow from across the room my son was causing her boy to be disrespectful. This was/is some of the harddest aspects to deal with-- my disrespectful, disobedient son was a perfect angel at coop once a week! For one 8 hour stretch per week, my son was not only able to fool but actually convince others that he was the most helpful , respectful, godfearing child on Earth.... but the minute we got in the car all of the pent up ODD would be unleashed on his brother and I. Most of the professionals say I need to put him into public school because somehow disguising the problem 8 hours per day will make it go away! I know how he acts after holding in his agression after 1 day of coop... i cant imagine his behavior if everyday he had to be tied dowm in school.
One last thing... I applaud you on mentioning your husband's behavior. I never saw until my children were born what an O.D.D. jerk my husband was... probably bc before kids I just let him get his own way! I know he needs counseling but he wont go so I am now saving up to find my own place to live for myself and kids.... unfortunately, I feel like my son will never be able to make progress with his dad in the same home.... isnt that sad???

Thanks again for writing this blog entry!

Darlene said...

You're welcome!

And as an update, my now almost 24 former ODD daughter is married and the mother of 2 - a toddler and a 3 month old. She's doing a great job with her kids. She is also my best friend! So hang in there. It's a rough ride, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.
Do your best to model the behavior you want them to exhibit, pray for them (and yourself!) and then go forward. You're not going to do everything perfectly, neither are they. What is important is forward progress, not perfection.
Hugs to all going through this process.

Alyssa Burnett said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really needed to read this today. There is so much wisdom, understanding, and empathy in this post. God bless!

Darlene said...

You're welcome. I'm glad you found the things I said useful. Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to "swim against the tide". But if you know something is right for your family you have to "just keep swimming". Time has a way of changing things and later on, you will find that some of your worst nay-sayers are now firmly in your corner. But until that time comes, it is oft-times a lonely road to walk.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for you post! It made me cry as well. I love the illustration of pushing on the rock. I am praying to deal with my ADHD/ODD 6 yo with faith rather than fear. He is in a private school right now, and has his good days and not so good days. Considering hs to just give him the positive head start he needs since so much of his short school life has been less than positive (praise God for his teacher this year, though), but the therapists thinks it will be too much of a challenge for me because of his ODD. This is such a journey and I am praying for wisdom...thank you for sharing your journey!

angelofthenight said...

Thank you! My son is ODD and currently driving myself and my husband insane. We love him dearly, but are SOOOO worn out from the constant fights. We homeschool too which means most days I want to cry and throw him back in public school because of how he treats me. He refuses to do school most days, fights with us CONSTANTLY about even the DUMBEST things. If I say black it HAS to be white to him. I'm at the end of my rope and praying like crazy! So much stress going on, and his ODD is making me think a white padded room looks heavenly compared to the stuff he hands out daily. So nice to read your post and know others are going through it, and have been there before! So glad to hear things turned out well! And THANK YOU for this post!!!!

Kori said...

Your post continues to bless us! I am at my wits end with my ODD 9yo son. We are homeschooling, but really we are unschooling because I just. can't. fight. anymore. Which feels terrible because I feel like I am failing him. But maybe I'm not?? This post helped me to keep my perspective today. So, again, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow.....I have been fighting with and crying over my 12ds for months now, thinking I'm failing him and no one understands what I'M feeling. I can't believe I found this post, at exactly the time when I needed it!! My son has ADHD/ODD and our hs journey starts tomorrow!!

Darlene said...

Kori and anonyous,
Sorry to take so long to reply, but I no longer have computer access at home and have to go the the library.

Teaching these children is a very difficult and sometimes lonely prospect. DO hang in there. You CAN do this and it WILL work out ok in the end. Just remember, it's a long-term project and I do mean LONG. There are no short-cuts to good behavior. It's being consistent and following through. No threats, just DO what you say. That is the best for any child, not just ADHD/ADD/ODD kids.

I had to break myself of "if you don't stop doing that/do that again, I'm going to ...(fill in the blank threat) and then, they'd do it again and I'd say whatever again. I had to retrain MYSELF to stop whatever it was I was doing and apply immediate consequences. Time out worked best for most things. 1 minute for each year old they are. Time started when they were quiet, not while they were screaming.

oh, yeah. And if you want to kill them, remember this...KARMA! lol
My dd has a ds...mwahhhhhaaaaa. She has come back to me and apologized for her bad behavior and begged me to release her from the Karma of dealing with HER ADHD son. lol So let them live. Payback will come in due course.

But YOUR child will have you for support and won't have to go it alone - unless they're still hard-headed. But even they eventually (24-25 yrs old) will come back and say; "you know, I really should just start listening to you. After all, you raised me and know about this behavior." Yep, three weeks ago, in the grocery store, tantrum in full force. Sent momma to get another cart and dealt with dgs. When she got back, he was quiet. Yep, been there, done that, jerked a knot in his tail without yelling, slapping or demeaning him. Simply put him in cart and ignored him. As soon as momma was out of sight, he decided Nana wasn't fooling around and he'd better get quiet or he'd be staying in the cart. So he got quiet.

What a resource you children will have in you. Especially since in my opinion, ADD/ADHD runs in families - at least it does in mine. Even in the extended family I see it.

Good luck to you both.

Unknown said...

Exactly what I needed today. Every day I have tears due to the constant battle on everything. Pulled my 10 year old ds out of ps this spring when he was finally diagnosed with ODD. But every day since I began homeschooling I have felt like I am failing him as a mother and teacher. This article is very encouraging for me. My ds most calm moments are also after midnight. With four other children...makes for long days and short nights. Thank you!!!! I am relieved that I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

Finding this post yesterday was a tremendous encouragement to me, thank you!!!!

Unknown said...

I cannot describe how I needed to read this today! I have been so overwhelmed and felt so alone. My husband actually found this blog and sent it to me and called me from work to tell me to read it asap. So thankful for you being real, open and honest. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Darlene said...

So glad it helped you. Life is still full of challenges. Keep on hanging on is all we can do. But then, that's all we HAVE to do. It's so easy to feel like a really bad parent. So do not let your self-esteem be based on your children's behavior. They have their agency and they will misuse it, even as adults.
You teach them what is right. What they choose to do is their choice. When they're still at him e, assign consequences. Once they leave, you may find you STILL need to invoke consequences. (Like calling DFCS for an abused baby.) Keep your chin up. You still love your child. That counts!

Christa said...

My 5yo son has has been having such a chaotic time at preK that I just want to pull him out of school. He has been showing signs of ODD and I am currently seeking professional help. I have been thinking about homeschool for him a lot lately. I just don't see how public school will work for him. He always has to do things at his own pace, when ready. I feel like mainstreaming him will only worsen things and damage him further. I feel tremendous guilt for wanting to take him out of school but sending him there is not helping. The teachers are angry, the kids dislike him now... why even put him through this? My husband is not very keen on homeschooling, as most people are not it seems. Feeling lost and confused! However, reading this post confirmed my thought and feelings. As mothers, we know when something is wrong and our instincts take over. My instincts are pulling me towards alternative ways of dealing with the situation. I want my son to be happy, have fun learning and not be bullied. This is my goal!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I think my 12yo daughter has adhd and possibly odd. Our home life is often chaotic because she stirs everyone up, loves to irritate, and blames or criticizes everyone. To make matters a little more difficult, I have adhd which makes parenting consistently very challenging! I pray and cry alot and try to figure out how to handle the other three while she's on a rampage. Your last paragraph of advise reminded me of what our pastor just shared on Sunday. He's speaking about dealing with difficult circumstances "in the meantime" and what to do when you don't know what to do. He used Paul's advice about the thorn in his side. Ask God for help, listen to what he says(even if he's saying "no"), and realize that his strength is made perfect in our weakness and his grace is sufficient. Wow. So in the past, I've tried to demand that my dd brush her teeth, shower, do her school work, do chores, etc when I wanted it done. Not successful. I've gotten angry and frustrated. Not successful. I know it will be a long journey, but I know God helps me handle it and I'm not alone. Over the summer, we are figuring out what she wants to learn next year. Math is a struggle, but I know if we take it little by little, she'll get there. I know God has great plans for her. Several years ago, she really felt that God was calling her to be a missionary and that is her dream. She loves children and dreams of living in Africa being the mom to many orphaned children. Although sometimes I feel pressure to teach her more traditional subjects, I can see God leading us to more delight directed schooling for reading for hours of classics like "Anne of Green Gables" and "Crispin". (yes, two very different books, but she loves both and many more!) So I am very thankful for my four children, and although I do not feel equipped, I know that I am when I realize God gave me these children for a reason and he gives me strength when I ask him. In His Strength I will keeping pressing on.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! My eyes are filled with tears as I read the blog and all the comments. I feel so alone as I try to understand how I have found my way to where I am today. I HS my 4 girls, my 9 dd hasn't been officially diagnosed with ODD but I am certain is is there, when I called today to ask if we could take the next step to see about diagnosis...the first question was is the school suggesting it. I am her school, and her mother...who better to see her at her best and worst? Yet somehow I feel like the medical field doesn't deem us worthy to make such an observation. I have considered public school so many times this year because we can't get along at all...I have felt like a complete failure and she refuses to comply with anything I ask or tell her. Unschooling sounds so different to compared to the way I think, yet I think I need to get down on my knees and pray....and ask for His Holy guidance. This is the second time it has come up this week. I also have a very dyslexic 7 dd that truly struggles....Thank you for posting, thank you that this is a place I could share and thank you for a glimpse of hope...when I feel so lost.

FeliciaMarie said...

Thank you for this post and the update. It gives me so much hope and encouragement! The post and the comments have also helped me to not feel so alone. Ihave 5 children and have been homeschooling for 9 years. My home feels so chaotic at times. I have a son who is 11 and has been difficult from age 2. Ive made so many mistakes. It takes a lot raising a child like this yet alone have several other kids to raise up. Sometimes it feels like it will never get better with him. I get where all I can see is the negative. God has used this post to open my eyes and to continue on...I am grateful you were led to share your wisdom for us who are still deep in the trenches.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog first 2 years ago. Finally got my 12 yr old ODD son out of public schools and in homeschool this year. We have so much repairing to do. To Christa above, I know your post is 6 months old, but I had the same feelings when mine was 5 and 6. Something wasn't right. At the time it was only mild ODD as a result of being severely ADHD, having unknown petite mail seizures, un-diagnosed sensory issues, OCD, and all not known, treated, or accommodated. He honestly was struggling with these things with no understanding of why he felt so different. So his only responses from 'teachers' were negative. It only got worse for him over the years, even as diagnoses were made,..... Because you can only make one first impression......and unfortunately teachers aren't trained in understanding children with special 'neurological' needs. So they get labeled first by teachers, then other kids start to label them as troublemakers too. I think I would be considered ODD in a socially hostile environment too!!!!! ODD is somewhat relative in that respect. I mean, these are kids who want to control their own world, and in some cases, as my sons case, his world was a swirling tornado around him that he needed to harness for sanity.....and no one understood and no one could help. He felt that all the negative reports were who he was.....and if you feel that way, wouldn't you oppose the system too????? Now, we have days when he doesn't want to do everything he is supposed to do.....we have some days of complete breakdowns.... Usually those days his Tourette's and OCD are too much to deal with while trying to focus on pre-algebra.... But we also have some days of complete cooperation and high-fives, and working things out together. It's a hit or miss. But I do know that with me everyday is a fresh start...... We have a plan and we try to stick to it. We make adjustments when needed......but overall I am pretty consistent with my expectations. Schoolwork is one of his responsibilities. I am a facilitator to that, but it is a responsibility that is his. He gets to choose the order he does his subjects in, if he wants to skip one until the weekend, etc., but there is no debate as to whether he does it or not......I have never given that option.

Darlene said...

Felicia & Anonymous,
Thank you for your comments. I'm so glad the post was of help to you.

Teri said...

Googled what I needed. "homeschooling with oppositional defiant disorder" Found your link. Read all the way through & ate it up. I know this stuff. We knew there was something wrong when he was 5. Never acclimated to kindergarten. Physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms galore in my baby at age 5. My husband and the hierarchy at the Christian school (at our church where my husband was a youth pastor) wouldn't let me pull him out. I kept telling them (for two years- K5 & 1st) he wasn't ready. He went through major depression and wanted to die. He was a physical danger to himself and others. Doctors have said they think it could be Bipolar; some ODD; ADHD; and sensory processing disorder. No one was willing to label it too early so he ended up with PDD-NOS. We started homeschooling in 2nd grade. Three older brothers, as well. At 10 he is now much better than he used to be. But it's been a long road. The depression still hits. He is still a danger to others physically and emotionally sometimes (one brother in particuar. Crazy part is they are also the best of friends.) I wanted to homeschool the Moore Method and Charlotte Mason style. It's been difficult. My oldest is gifted but unmotivated. The past year it has become so obvious he more than likely has Asperger's. The middle two (twins) have ADHD (undiagnosed officially) and Asperger's & Sensory Processing Disorder with some learning delays, respectively. The past two and a half years we began seeing something else in the littlest. When we moved to PA about 20 months ago from GA it was verified. He also has seasonal affective disorder. So maybe that gives you a glance into why this schooling thing isn't a breeze for us. We actually tried The Weaver curriculum. It only lasted about 5 weeks. has been our main curriculum. My husband has been asking me a lot lately why I veered from my original love of the Moore/Mason styles. My answer? Fear. Fear that I wasn't doing it the right way. Fear that someone would ask and I would answer "unschooling" and then a long debate would ensue. Fear that my gifted son would not get what the challenge he needed and that my other three boys just wouldn't get it at all. I probably should add that while learning about my Aspie (3rd son) when he was a toddler, I learned about myself. I had always wondered why I had such a hard time with a lot of things. Why I was so different.
Skip forward to now... Homeschool is not working. Not for all the boys. One does pretty well;(ds2)(7th grade). One struggles with the load; (ds3). One skips work because he believes it to be monotonous and irrelevant; (ds1). And the little? It's the exact same as you described about your dd. I spend the majority of my time just trying to get him to get anything done. And the screaming and 'I hate this! Why do I even have to do school work anyway?' hits like napalm. I couldn't believe it. Your blog has reignited the flame for me to revamp our "curriculum". My ds4 does "study" and take notes of things he wants to on his own terms, on his own time. He has such trouble falling asleep that a lot of this is done after 10pm. His vision problems (intermittant exotropia) cause him to see double, skip words and even whole lines of text while reading. Thus he HATES reading. So when he does read I am jumping up and down & doing somersaults on the inside. His math is exactly as you described. I just cannot say how much I felt like you were writing about our school/developmental situation.
Thank you for sharing.
I have a lot of praying and replanning/unplanning to do. Thank you again. And God bless you. You are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this, and for your honesty.

Up until 'grade' 6 I home schooled my son. We had a similar situation that you had with the father of your children. I don't have a diagnosis, we are now in the process of getting one. I would say he has ODD, ADHD and some sort of anxiety/depression thrown in.
I struggled for YEARS with trying to teach him, often until we were both in tears. Yelling, disrespect- you know the drill. Finally we moved to a small town and there just wasn't enough ' social' interaction for him in the home school community we are in so he finally opted to try school.
First year - gr.7- was so stressful, filled with anxiety, etc. The second year- gr. 8 - he is constantly in detention, in school suspensions, disrespectful to teachers,and principal, pretty much refuses to learn and is very disruptive.
School isn't a fit but quite honestly I am EXHAUSTED. How am I going to do this? How am I going to grow this kid up?
Then I read your article. I felt the pressure lift off my shoulders a little.
Perhaps that is the only way.
I don't want to lose my son. I don't want him to turn down the road of drugs or alcohol. I want him to be proud of himself. I want him to leave school and flourish. I want to support him. Mostly? I want him to find happiness. That deep down happiness. I'm not sure if that will ever happen but I have felt a balm over my heart and a glimmer of home since I read your article.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad this old post is still up. It is so helpful. Many thanks.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. My wife and I find ourselves in a similar situation with our 9 year old son. ODD / AdhD / Anxiety/ depression. Still working on a diagnosis but It has not been easy. Likely will need to repeat 4th grade. He has stalled and just can't seem to and refuses to even try certain things in school. Even things he for sure knows how to do, like add stresses him out and he just keeps saying "I suck," and refuses to try.... Staying positive is a real challenge but we are keeping our faith close and doing our best. Repeating a grade isn't the worst, we just want him to find happiness with himself.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. My wife and I find ourselves in a similar situation with our 9 year old son. ODD / AdhD / Anxiety/ depression. Still working on a diagnosis but It has not been easy. Likely will need to repeat 4th grade. He has stalled and just can't seem to and refuses to even try certain things in school. Even things he for sure knows how to do, like add stresses him out and he just keeps saying "I suck," and refuses to try.... Staying positive is a real challenge but we are keeping our faith close and doing our best. Repeating a grade isn't the worst, we just want him to find happiness with himself.

Darlene said...

Anonymous and Shalon West

It sounds like he's in public/private school. Might I suggest you and your wife prayerfully pray about getting him out of a situation that is so obviously toxic to him. And then pray about which direction you need to go with him. 9 year olds should not be anxious nor depressed unless there's something wrong in the house - serious illness, divorce (or predivorce parental behavior), death of a close loved one or other traumatic event. Barring that, the only other source of stress is school.

Your little man seems like he needs to be taken out of that situation, allowed to just "mellow" at home for a while to learn to detox and distress. He has gotten to the point that he feels like, no matter what he does, he's wrong and going to be criticized or made fun of or mocked. Which adds up to his being bullied by the other kids, and probably the teacher (who may not even be aware that some of the things she's say in front of the other kids is causing the bullying).
Then, as you look at schooling him at home, look at a less structured way of schooling. "Child-led", "unschooling", etc. that gives him some control over what he does each day. A "formal" approach - Calvert "school in a box" or other such curricula that has him having to do so many pages or chapters a day is going to just stress both him and your wife out.

What you want him to do is to relearn to love learning as something/someone has certainly killed that love. To the point that he's gone "dead" inside from trying and failing to please.

Imagine if you will, going to a job that you started out being excited to have. Imagine, if EVERY SINGLE DAY, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, your boss came to you and said, NO! You weren't listening, you did this wrong. Imagine if all your coworkers made nasty comments about you, refused to let you sit with them at lunch, and let you "accidentally" hear groups of them gossiping about you. About how dumb you were, how lame you were, how nobody liked you. Imagine having gone to that job for 5 or 6 YEARS already and knowing that you have another 8 or 9 YEARS of this before you can be free. I'm serious. Think about how you would feel. Is there any wonder he's depressed. Any wonder he won't even try anymore. (I would not be surprised if he's had suicidal thoughts, though he would never tell you that. Probably wouldn't even know TO tell you he has thoughts of hurting himself or wishing to die.)

And what is a diagnosis going to do? Until the situation changes, there's nothing going to fix this. To me, meds only compound the problem(s) as there's side effects from them. And the ones for depression state in the Patient leaflet they put in the bag (if they remember to include it and you read it) will tell you that the drugs for depression can CAUSE depression - as well as suicidal thoughts.

Darlene said...

I'm not a Dr,psychologist no psychiatrist of any kind. Just a person who things and reads a lot. This is something you and your spouse have to come to an agreement on and since you mentioned faith, enroll our Heavenly Father in this decision as well.

The current public school model works for very few kids and these are the kids that learn BEST by filling in bubbles and doing worksheets along with "rote" learning. But then, even those are being taught to the tests so the object isn't to LEARN ANYTHING at all, to just "know what's on the test". Test it and forget it. Not a skill that will serve him well in adulthood.

Most children learn best through play. Boys and ADHD/ADD kids ESPECIALLY need physical activity. The "sit your butt in that chair, shut up and pay attention" is a GUARANTEED to fail module for these kids.

You have the ability to rescue him from this situation. I homeschooled as a divorce mom who's ex-husband (kids' father)refused to pay child support until he was taken to court. It finally took jail time before it was paid. (they'd order it taken out of his pay, so he'd change jobs or work "under the table"). So there was NEVER much money for homeschool supplies and curriculum. But we had internet, educational tv, library (where we printed a lot of things), we were in a homeschool group and people would sell curriculum cheaply. We asked the school district for older books that they were getting rid of - replacing it with the next thing in "bells and whistles" , not outdated texts).

He needs to learn math - there are math games aplenty on the internet. Games online that "drill" facts, games off line that he and mom (and any other siblings) can play. My kids LOVED a game called "Dragon Math". Basically, it's a story of a dragon stealing your treasure. You have to go and get it. It's a sheet of paper with the instructions, templates for cards to print on card-stock and a one or two page "board" (print it on card stock and tape it together). You will need scissors and either take it to be laminated or just get a roll of clean contact paper. Cut out the cards and cover them so they'll last longer. To play the game, get some kind of "treasure". Someone gave us a bunch of shiny aquarium stones and we used those. could just be M&M's or even Cheerios. Whatever you have. Think outside the box. And a pair of plain dice. (may only need one). (store all in a pouch or zip top bag)
Then you work your way around the board. The card will tell you whether to add or subtract (or multiply/divide at a higher level). Older and younger kids can play by adapting the game to their level. Son had to add/subtract, older kids/adults can multiply what's on the dice. And you move so many spaces. (the rules are online and easy to learn.)

Darlene said...

Continued, pt 3:
I love and a friend returned Teri Ebert's Going in Circles Curriculum. It's a relatively small comb-bound book that sets the year out. There are 4 years, no need to buy them all at once. Just get the first year (or see if your library has it) and start from there. It's called going in circles because you do each year, and then start over in year 5 with year one. (Basically, that's what middle school, high school and college do only each time you see the material, it's at a higher level). I'm in no way associated with her nor do I get anything from recommending her curriculum. I just liked the flexibility it gave me. It gave me an overview of what was needed and I could just check out library books to use to cover the topics.

Also, I don't know how his reading/writing/spelling is going, but I'm using Write to Spell to Read with my grandson. (K in the fall). I've already started him on it as it's one I got when my son was a teen. Rather late, but... Anyway, it's for dyslexic kids, but it works well with "normal" kids, too. It teaches not only reading, but the phonics that are ACCURATE as so many phonic programs are NOT true English rules. There's a reason Have has a silent E on it - English words never end in a I, U or a V. If there's a word like "have" - it HAS to have a silent E (Blue is another one.) I've forgotten why there's no E on YOU - I think it's an import into our language from and older one. Ski is not originally from the English. lol In fact, there's 5 reasons for a silent "e". Once you get into this program, you will find that all of those words that we were taught were "irregular" are actually regular and it's NOT a matter of just learning by rote how to spell them. If you actually understand phonics, you can spell anything well - with few exceptions - not the myriad of exceptions as we were taught.

Anyway, just some ideas. Like I said, I'm not a professional anything. You have to choose what's best for him. And if you do decide to take him out of school, go ahead and do it this year. Sign him up and just let him detox. Let him play, play games with him. Don't even mention it's a "school" game. To him, a game is a game - unless we tell them otherwise. And quit when HE show's he's tired or the moment he gets frustrated. Read aloud to him. We spent DAYS doing nothing but reading. Read whatever he likes. Read Narnia series. (Harry Potter,if it doesn't offend your religious beliefs), children's science books (DK for Kids is full of a lot of pictures as well as some text). Take him to a museum or 3. Art, historical, whatever is available. We would go to Atlanta to the symphony. They had days where they did children's programs. Call them and ask if they allow homeschooled kids to go. It cost us $5 each. Same with Atlanta Ballet and Opera as well. (We're an hour 1/2 away from there, so we couldn't do it often). Go to the park and explore. Look at trees, take samples of leaves and learn to describe them. (check out a library book about how to identify trees and take it with you!)Same if there's a beach (salt water or fresh). Look at tidal pools/inlets. Get a magnifying glass and take that along with a bottle to collect some water and look at it. Go to the library for kids story hour each week. As long as he's well-behaved, they don't care how old they are.

Hope this gives you some insight and ideas. I'm about to start round 2 with my 5 year old and 18 month old grandsons that live with me during the week while their custodial father is working. Oye vey! lol

Debbie said...

I have been a homeschooling mama since 1995 and currently have 2 adopted children at home. We just started our 14-yr-old at a private Christian school and she is doing great. Our 11-yr-old son has ADD and ODD and I know that he would not survive at the private school, so I continue to homeschool him, but am so frustrated with his behavior. I needed to read this article today! He does best with unschooling, but I feel like a failure when I'm not 'teaching' him. Yet when I do try to teach him anything that he is not ready to learn, he has meltdown or totally defies me. I'm so tired of this behavior and was nearly ready to give up today, but I know that the Lord led me to this article. Thanks so much for posting this! I have renewed hope for his future. He also has dyslexia, so he struggles a LOT with reading. His current goal is to become a YouTuber! He LOVES posting videos about Minecraft and finds it awesome when ppl 'like' his videos.

Darlene said...

Thank you. I'm so glad this post has helped so many people. I was inspired when I wrote it, so I feel a fraud taking credit for a "God breeze" post.

Do you know people can make really good money posting videos on YouTube? He's found his niche, help him learn how to make money doing it. There are probably YouTube videos on how to set up YouTube businesses. There are kids out there - and some are younger that he is, making a good amount of money doing it! Enough to support a family. So, don't rule out something so out of the box. It's not beyond his age nor skill level. Even if he doesn't earn enough money to support himself by the time he's 18, he will still have business skills. And he may turn from Minecraft to another subject that catches his imagination and he'll know how to run with it.

I KNOW how scary it can be unschooling. Having to "just trust the process" isn't natural for most of us. They will learn what they need to know as they do it and it's SO much easier for both of you when that is understood. When they HAVE to read because there's something they WANT information about, then they work on the reading. And at 14, it's best to start turning SOME of the choices over to him. Yeah, that is really scary as well. There does need to be "family rules" that everyone follows, but let him have as much control over what he's studying or doing as you can. (I would veto laying in bed all day long, watching tv all night long type behavior as that is not going to serve him well as an adult. But you have a PERFECT venue for him to learn business affairs, legal documents, consumer math, customer services, fiscal responsibility, ethical behavior, the need for continuing education and more. What a wonderful opportunity that is out there for him, that even a generation ago wasn't available. He'll learn to look for multiple avenues of income, create webpages, invest his money in upgraded equipment. It will keep him occupied for HOURS a day. (and he's less likely to go wrong on you. He'll be too busy running his own business to want to bother with drugs or inappropriate friends). Good luck to you both on your journey.

Debbie said...

Thanks for your encouragement. I really appreciate it. So my youngest with all the 'issues' is only 11. It's my daughter who's 14 and just started at a private Christian school. Do you think at 11 he could still be making $$$ doing YouTube videos? He would LOVE that! He recently spent his own money to buy a microphone and stand so he can sound more professional when he records videos. I was quite impressed!

Darlene said...

Actually, yes I do believe he can make money doing videos. And I'm impressed as well. He will need some adult back up with finding out how to get sponsors or how to get ads placed on his website. He probably won't earn much at first, but if someone can help him learn how to earn a living doing this, his website can be grown. I would guess that there are videos of "how to earn a living making videos" out there. I'm also sure there are blogs telling the same thing. I'd consult "Uncle Google" to see what can be found. And I'd involve him in doing some of this leg work. He may already know how or have friends that know how to do this. Put a bug in his ear about doing it and then let him run with it. Let him run with it and then have him show you what he's learning about how to do this. He sounds pretty smart. My son found a mentor that taught him how to do Voice Over Protocol and then had him set up servers for him. Taught him a valuable skill. He was preteen/teen age. Good luck with this. And he will need some adult help as contracts and other legal documents. He'll be ok. Any kid that will save his money and then spend it on something for his interests is well on the way to becoming a business man. Other kids buy candy and things to play with instead of something to further a business.

Faithful Acres Books ~ Linda Marie Finn said...

Wow, God Breeze that just blew into my life !!! Hubby is skitso-affective & borderline personality disorder, DD 15 has depression and I am sure is bipolar, DD 14 is bipolar 1 and ODD, DS 10 just gets angry as they all seem to need and seek so much attention from me and seem to ruin life in our home. I feel like I am unschooling at this point and that doesn't bother me but it sure bothers Hubby. I can relate to the issues of domestic voilence as this was my third marriage and I do believe that each of them had some form of mental illness two diagnosed, one a very high functioning alcoholic who was physically abusive. So, all that said I have homeschooled 7 kids for the last 28 years and each one has been been unique as it should be , but I can tell you that homeschooling my DD 31 now (skitso-affective with mood disorders) and DD 14, it has been a trip that I never forsaw... nor did I really want. In all actuality who wants 3 marriages with issues either, I sure didn't. But here I am, I won't bother anyone with the in's and out's of living with those who suffer with mental illness, I think that is another blog post all in its own or a blog all its own. I did really need to read this today and found it by " Uncle Google" as I was so needing to know that I am not in this alone and I can manage this whole mess... At 56 I feel very frustrated by all of it... Now the thing that is encouraging too and made me know that I was meant to read this is reading Debbie's and your posts on her son and becoming a YouTuber as this is my 10 DS's Idea and he has taught himself how to make videos and upload them to YouTube. It is for the most part his escape from all the drama and hassles the others cause in our home. Reading all this has encouraged me to restructure our home into more of a learning environment and not expect everyone to fit the status quo. I can tell you that ODD has brought a lot of heartache and caused much pain, not just to me but to my DD 15 as she seems to be the one DD 14 attacks on a daily basis... nothing in life is fair in DD 14's eyes and DD 15 is just so tired of her sister that she can't wait to move out or for her sister to move out. Your right, in the end it will all work out and they will grow up and nothing is worth the fighting and yelling that goes on at times. Living on SSD and a small pension I can relate to the lack of funds for homeschooling supplies and even food. We have at times gotten Snap and I am thankful for that and other programs that helped this year with getting our old farmhouse insulated and electric repaired, now a new wood furnace... Yes I am very self sufficiency minded also. Hubby is physically not doing well and I try to bring in some form of income other then what we have so that we can get by, but getting by to my girls is being dirt poor... I told them someday when they are older and have jobs, they can buy what they want, till then we get what we need. I agree with you that having some form of test to get the Diploma is needed and I have a friend who even makes her kids learn to cook, meal plan and do it for the family for a month before they can graduate homeschool. Thank you for sharing your life and trials so honestly , it really has helped me to know that I can do this and even if I am alone I can manage it. Blessings,
Linda Marie Finn

Darlene said...

Linda, I've made another blog post as you reminded me of some things that I wanted to say, but never got around to saying. Thanks for the kickstart.

Unknown said...

I thought I would leave a comment to let you know that this post is still getting someone through another day. I had another really hard day with 13dd. I did not handle myself well after several hours of obstinance. My situation is not yours exactly,but I suppose noone's is. Thanks for the end to the story, and thanks for the update. This has blessed me today.

Darlene said...

@Tera Anne, Thank you for the feedback. I've been surprised that this post has been so helpful to so many people. It was just something I whipped off the top of my head about how my life had been. I so glad that it helped and uplifted you, and hopefully, gave you strength to keep on keeping on.
Hope your days will go better. The time flies by so quickly - when you're looking back on it, but the daily trench warfare that seems to go on, seems to last forever.
One of the grandsons I'm raising is even more obstinant than my daughter. Other times, he's just the sweetest kid. Seems the years and a half - somewhere between 11 1/2 and 13 1/2 are such hard years for kids. The're too old for "baby" or "kid" stuff, but too young to have teen privileges. Too old for "toys", but too young to go hang out places unsupervised. And of course, mom and dad don't "understand" them. lol
Hang in there, and hugs. This too, shall pass.

The Eclectic Element said...

Wow this is just what I needed to read. Just today, I was crying to my husband that I just can't do this anymore. That my daughter(5) would be better off in public school bc I feel like a failure. Homeschooling in prek was so dang rough. She is not diagnosed, but I am positive she has odd and possibly anxiety and sensory issues. Excuse me while I vent, but these trenches are just so exhausting. I am so very tired down to my core. I feel stuck, because I dont know how to parent her let alone put on this role of teacher. The thing is I know I have excellent teaching skills, as i teach Sunday and wednesday night kids church and I get through to the kids well..the lessons stick and I actually enjoy it. I'm ashamed to say I dont enjoy teaching my daughter or parenting her at all. I need help but I dont know who to ask or go to, because of the stigma of homeschooling. Everyone just says to put her in public school like that will just make all of the issues disappear. I know in my spirit that I am supposed to homeschool her, because God confirmed that was His plan for her when she was only 1 year old. I have such a daunting long road ahead..
Without a solid support system in place with my challenging kiddo along with an older boy who is diagnosed autistic and a 2 year old that is just like his sister, I dont know how we will get through this. The chaotic energy is so draining, and I feel overwhelmed with it all.

Darlene said...

Oh, it looks like I really need to update on the goings on at my house. I'll be 67 on the 15th and I've been in tears for months over DFCS and the fact that they don't seem to move on kids being injured by parents.
I can't go into it more right now as there's a court hearing on the 13th and I have to be careful of what I say so as to not affect the case. After the hearing I may stop and write another post. Life is rough, even if it is the second time around. But you're not alone in the grief dept, nor the struggle to work with kids that have issues. Hang in there. If you need to, go join the "Worldwide Unified" FB group. It's a group of people, of all nations, tongues, religions and even atheists have joined us in praying for one another, 2 world-wide fasts over this virus and pleas for relief from it and that people will be kinder, governments will be wiser and God's will will come to pass. It's a welcoming places where we can ask for prayers and pray over others (as we have some time to stop and read the requests.) Sometimes all I can do is a few minutes and I don't comment, just click a hug, say a quick prayer and then go to the next request. It's not much, but it all adds up.
And unified prayers work much wonders. Join and ask for prayers for you and your family. You don't need to go into a whole lot of details - to protect your children and their privacy, but enough that people know what to specifically pray for. Go look at some of the posts if you need guidance - you can see that some people give a lot of details, some just say please pray for me or for such-and-such a friend. Basically no details at all - it's your choice how much to disclose.
We're all in this together. Sometimes we don't have people we can talk with that are right there in person. But online support can be such a big help as well as in person. There are a LOT of people out there that are facing challenges from homeschooling. I'm sorry your in a place that is still fighting homeschooling and looking down their noses at you. It's better where I live as the state has this funny idea that children belong to their parents and if they want to homeschool allow them to do so without harassment. (and because most of the schools in the state have reading and math test levels between 25% and 35%! Homeschoolers are out-scoring them really badly)
I'm in the throes of dealing with badly abused children and the havoc they can raise as they start coming out of the wall they had in place to protect themselves and the intense anger (and outright rage) that they are feeling. It gets taken out on the one trying to take care of them. It's destruction of property, lashing out, stealing and terrible meltdowns. But after the storms, things calm down - sometimes for a few minutes to a few hours, somethings for a day or two. This too shall pass. Hang in there. And no, you don't feel like teaching a child that is so defiant - I know, I'm dealing with it daily myself x2. I get so very little sleep and so I know what you mean by exhausted to the core. This is rough and praying and then having friends and family pray (with or without details) helps. Not doing school at home works as well. Sometimes a change in curriculum helps. I just switched, starting last week, to "The Good and the Beautiful curriculum" It's religious, but not aimed at nor trying to convert anyone. It's generic, authorized King James Version of Bible verses. It's a quicker program for kids to do, but the way it's done is softly and kindly. There's not a lot of "busy work", but enough to teach them very well. It will take away some of the tension on doing what needs to be done to move them along educationally, without it becoming so confrontational. It has beautiful artwork in it, a soft tone to it. hang in there.