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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

Stress on marriage over disciplining teen son

I am married for 20+ years and blessed with two very bright children. The youngest, a boy, has ADHD. He is very gifted, with a high IQ, but has struggled like many to complete home work, which by high school caused failing grades,  put him at risk for the wrong social circles, drop out and more. His poor attitude, obstinance, and lying became a major stress in our home and marriage. My husband chose a lucrative career, which required extensive travel. when things got really tough with our son and my health declined, I frequently begged him to choose a different job to be home more. He wouldn’t. As a result I gave up a very lucrative career for a second time to manage our son and my stress, which caused resentment and marital problems. Finally in 9th grade my son asked to attend a military school he had attended over the summer. He is in his second year and is thriving and excelling academically. Although our daughters college tuition combined with private boarding school has put a huge financial burden on my husband and I, our marriage has improved. That is, until our kids come home. My son falls back into poor habits, which drives my husband crazy. Then my husband reverts back into his parenting habit of “tattling” on our son to me and constantly complaining. I also think he is jealous of the attention I give the children. He expects me do all the discipline and we get into fights because he verbally belittles our son, which escalates my sons bad behavior. I will not choose my husband over our kids when he is wrong and have told him to step up to his part of parenting. He won’t. I am so frustrated with my husband for not being the dad our children need or the partner I need. It is hurting our marriage more every time the children come home. My feelings for my husband have changed. I don’t think my husband will or can change. Someone please tell me I am not alone!


You are definitely not alone! Any kind of serious parenting issues can cause incredible stress on a marriage. I have two boys, 18 and 14 and have been married for 25 years. Our 14 year old is a sweet, wonderful kid that makes great grades and gives us no problems. My 18 year has been difficult his entire life. He was diagnosed with ADHD at age 7 and depression at age 17. My husband and I often disagree on what needs to be done. My son is brilliant and gifted, but has always had difficulty in school. He got involved in drugs in High School and barely managed to graduate. He received a college scholarship because of his high ACT/SAT scores, so we took a chance and let him give it a try (also we needed a break!) Unfortunately he flunked out of college the first semester and is now back home. My husband and son have not been able to get along since my son was about 8 years old, so I am the primary disciplinarian. I am a stay-at-home Mom and my husband has a good job. My husband believes that it is my job to micro-manage every aspect of our son’s lives and any failure is my fault. When something happens with my 18 year old, my husband will not gripe at my son because he wants to be upbeat and encouraging. So he takes it all out on me and blames me for not doing enough to help him succeed. As you can imagine, this has totally destroyed our marriage. We are basically roommates that are arguing constantly. I have lost a great deal of respect for my husband and it is obvious that he is not going to change. I feel for you because I am living a similar situation. I had hoped that once the kids were grown and gone, we might be able to resolve our differences, but now I am concerned that my older son may be living with us or in need of our aid for a long time!

Posted by artistmom on Jan 04, 2014 at 11:26pm

Thank you. Although I am happy to hear your similar life experience, I am sorry you are living through the same difficult problem. I am hopeful that future college will be possible for our son now that he is in a highly structured learning environment. However, I remained concerned that he will flunk out in a typical college with its chaotic, undisciplined environment. Now that we are empty nesters, My marriage improves when the kids are away, so more breaks from the kids for you and your husband may also be helpful for you. I know we should get marriage counseling, but my husband will never see the need to change and is a creature of habit that resists change. So, I am committed to touching it out in hopes time will heal old wounds. But, visits with kids is less than ideal for now. It feels good to at least tell my story to someone who understands how hard it is on one’s marriage:(

Posted by empty nester on Jan 05, 2014 at 1:15am

This is oh so common.  You take the parenting classes.  Spouse doesn’t.  You do the research. Spouse doesn’t. If only this might end when your child goes off on his/her own.  But your child isn’t like other children, and is likely to need more home support than other kids who are simply going thru adolescent parent-rebellion issues.
All I can tell you is 1.  Marriage counseling will help you, especially if the spouse comes along to respect the fact you really want things to be better, and
2.  I had a fabulous time last week with the husband and the daughter both out of town visiting relatives without me.  Work, movies, shopping, and that lovely silence.  I’m going to work on getting them out of town and leaving me home more often smile

Posted by NoraMaureen on Jan 05, 2014 at 3:05am

Very common. Too long to go into all of our details. Counseling and family therapy got us through some of our daughter’s (and thus ours) roughest times. My husband was never receptive to this, but it became necessary when my daughter hit a rock bottom. My husband and I are now doing better, as our daughter is doing better and better…although I still harbor some resentment and lack of respect. However, now that we are past the tough times, I see that we all did our best and we all made mistakes.

Take care of yourself, take time for yourself. You deserve it

Posted by mcat on Jan 05, 2014 at 5:46am

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