ADHD’s impact on parenthood

ADHD can have a significant impact on those living with it as well as their family members. Often there is a high level of stress in relationships between parents and children or even between siblings. Gaining a better understanding of how ADHD affects the parent-child relationship and learning to manage the impact, can help create a healthier home.

When parents have ADHD

According to some studies, parents living with ADHD tend to be more prone to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, increased stress levels, and a reduced ability to meet their family responsibilities. Studies have shown the benefits of a parent’s involvement in the education of his or her child. However, when the parent has ADHD, he or she may not be concerned with participating in their child’s academic life, possibly because of an inability to focus and follow through.

When parents are caring for a child with ADHD

A child with ADHD may cause friction between parents, because disagreements can arise about managing the condition. These challenges can lead to issues in the parents’ relationship, and arguing may occur, affecting the whole family including children without ADHD.

Here is what you can do to minimise tension in your relationship:

  • Make decisions together
  • Let the child know that all decisions require both parents’ agreement

The situations involving your child that may lead to divisions in your relationship:

  • Using other people’s things without asking
  • Not doing chores when he or she is supposed to or within the allotted amount of time
  • Being disorganised with homework
  • Instigating arguments with siblings
  • Not listening
  • Not following through on tasks

Partnering with people around you

Understanding ADHD and how to effectively manage it can be a difficult and painstaking process for both children and parents. One of the best ways for a parent to understand his or her child’s situation is by talking about it. This process could be aided by suggestions from teachers or advice from healthcare professionals.

Here are some ways to talk about your child’s situation and get help:

Partner with your child’s teacher and school

You can work with teachers, administrators, and other school support team members to determine whether additional support may help your child.* Here are examples of additional support:

  • Using a digital recording device in class
  • Giving the child a quiet place to work
  • Letting the child have extra time to complete work
  • Using daily or weekly school reports
  • Having your child work with a study buddy
  • Using directed note-taking (definition of directed note-taking)
  • Allowing your child to choose amongst several tasks to finish a project

*Additional support services may need to be approved by an administrator before teachers can start using them with students. For more information on this process, ask your child’s teacher.

Speak to a healthcare professional

Have an open and honest dialogue with a healthcare professional about any symptoms your child may be experiencing. Discuss how those symptoms may be affecting your child at home, at school, and in social situations. Your child will need formal documentation of an ADHD diagnosis to obtain learning-support services.

When evaluating your child, healthcare professionals may ask to see the following school records:

  • School reports, including grades and teachers’ comments
  • Other official records, such as achievement tests or discipline reports
  • A description of how your child has performed in school
  • Notes on your child’s behaviour in the classroom

Alternatively, you may prefer to start the process by speaking with your child’s school counsellors, social workers, or his or her teacher. Just remember, only a qualified healthcare professional can accurately diagnose ADHD.