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Help for Parents Who Have ADHD


Updated March 06, 2013

Help for Parents Who Have ADHD

Understanding that ADHD is a genetically influenced disorder, it's clear that healthcare providers need to proactively look for ADHD within families where it has already manifested in order to make certain needed treatment approaches are all in place

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Identifying and Treating Parents With ADHD

Within the last decade, there has been an increasing awareness and understanding about ADHD and its impact into adulthood. When a parent has undiagnosed ADHD, the family life will invariably also be affected. The familial nature of ADHD can actually impair a child’s treatment. If a child has ADHD in addition to the parent, there can often be significant dysfunction within the family. A parent with untreated ADHD will certainly have a hard time following through with treatment recommendations for the child –- keeping track of a child’s prescription, filling the prescription, administering the child’s medication on a regular schedule, keeping track of when the prescription needs refilling, creating routines and structure at home, implementing and following through with behavioral or reward programs at home, etc.

If a parent has ADHD, that parent may have a very difficult time being consistent with their child. Parenting skills will be affected by the parent's own ADHD. Studies show that moms with ADHD tend to provide less supervision, have more difficulty keeping tabs on their children and knowing where they are, and are less adept at creative problem solving. If an issue or problem comes up, moms with ADHD tend to address it the same way again and again rather than thinking of other ways to handle the situation more effectively. It is often difficult for those with ADHD to be flexible in their approaches to parenting.

Parenting a child, any child, is a difficult task to begin with. When you have a child with ADHD you are parenting a child who has greater demands, needs more involvement, and requires greater patience and understanding by the parent. Add to the mix additional siblings of the ADHD child and conflicts, attention pulled in different directions, feelings of resentment by the child who requires less attention –- all these factors combine to create a parenting role that can quickly become overwhelming.

In the past, ADHD was mainly considered an academic or school issue for children. ADHD, however, is a 24 hour a day condition. It not only impairs school or work functioning, it also can have a significant impact on families and social relationships. There is even a high incidence of divorce in families where a member has ADHD. This is again why when a child is first diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to also screen the rest of the family to determine whether additional family members have ADHD. By properly indentifying ADHD in individuals, treatment can be so much more effective and family life much more joyful.

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Patricia Quinn, MD. Phone interview/email correspondence. January 5 and 27, 2009.

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