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ADHD and Family Dynamics


Updated July 01, 2009

Question: ADHD and Family Dynamics
Do you find that the individual identified as having ADHD is given the burden of changing or being the “different one” in the family?

Unfortunately, that certainly can and does occur. But when families fall into this negative pattern, they often can just get stuck. Singling out an individual as the problem isn’t helpful and in fact it can be hurtful and tends to exacerbate problems.

ADHD is really a family affair. Individuals with ADHD don’t exist in a vacuum. The family itself is a system in which there are all sort of interactions that occur continuously. How you respond to a family member will elicit a response from that person and their response to you will elicit a response…and so on and so on. The point is each family member affects one another. ADHD can certainly add a unique dynamic to the family.

But it is important for all families to avoid finger pointing and blaming. That is just not productive for anyone. It makes the person being singled out as the problem feel horrible, and it can result in acting out behaviors and it can even create feelings of anxiety and depression in that person. Singling out or placing blame on one individual also releases responsibility from others in the family. The family is a unit that must work together. Everyone has responsibilities for making the unit run smoothly. Approaching difficult situations in a problem solving mode is much more effective for everyone.

As the heads of the family, the way parents frame ADHD sets the tone for the rest of the family. As parents learn more about the nature of the condition and learn ways to respond and support an individual with ADHD, the family can begin to work with the ADHD rather than against it. Creating an ADHD Friendly Household helps not just the person who has ADHD, but also the entire family.

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