Parenting Skills of Parents with ADHD

CADDAC National Director

After several decades of co-parenting three sons with ADHD and being married to my husband who also has ADHD, I can attest to the validity of the analysis provided by associate professor of Psychiatry, James Waxmonsky: “Patients with ADHD are at increased risk to engage in problematic parenting techniques, including inconsistent disciplinary practices, making ineffectual commands, and diminished use of praise.”

Our family meetings generally resulted in children who understood new rules or schedules, at least in the short term, leading them to complain that “Dad was not following the rules!”

A new study on parenting skills demonstrated both on and off Vyvanse, an ADHD medication, has found that parents with ADHD on medication were less likely to make negative statements towards their children while engaging in a homework task, were more responsive to their child, made fewer commands, were less demanding, and praised their child more.

While medicating parents with ADHD is not the single answer to this, assessment, diagnosis, and some form of treatment has clearly been found to be beneficial for parenting skills. Some ADHD experts believe that if the parent is not dealing with their own ADHD there is a reduced chance that the child will respond to medication or counselling treatments.

Thinking back, what I can say is that parenting a child or children with ADHD while coping with one of the parents having untreated ADHD is difficult. Working as a team becomes a huge challenge; attaining consistency is almost impossible; and avoiding resentment of the other parent, from both parties, becomes a daily struggle. Although little was known about adult ADHD 30 years ago when we were struggling with this, today my first suggestion to families whose child has been recently diagnosis is to become educated about ADHD. During this period of enlightenment, if the suspicion that one or both of the parents may have ADHD arises don’t ignore it. For your child’s sake and the sake of your relationship get an assessment and look into appropriate treatment options. If nothing else, think of the great role model you will become for your child.

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