Parents pass on all sorts of things to their children. They pass down hair or eye color, freckles, and even ADHD. Of course, parents do not choose to give their children ADHD, but sometimes their genes pass it on anyway. More than 40% of children with ADHD have a parent with ADHD. Research shows that more than 50% of parents with ADHD will have a child with ADHD.
Parents with ADHD who have children with ADHD face more problems than similar parents without it. Research shows that fathers with ADHD are less effective at dealing with their ADHD children. Mothers with ADHD report higher rates of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress.
On the other hand, there is no solid evidence that parental ADHD can make a child's ADHD symptoms worse. Instead, parental ADHD just makes dealing with the child's symptoms and attempting treatment more difficult.
Parental ADHD can be an obstacle to treating the child for several reasons. Parents with ADHD are less able to give ADHD children the structure they need to function. All children, especially those with ADHD, need routines and consistency. Consistency is at the heart of most types of behavioral treatment for ADHD.
Some aspects of parenting may seem "boring" to an ADHD parent. Sitting with a child who is struggling through homework may be impossible for a parent with ADHD. This can have a variety of negative effects on the child.
While many people with ADHD may seek alternative treatments, medication with behavior management is the most accepted tool for treating ADHD.
On the bright side, parents with ADHD who have ADHD children also understand what it means to live with ADHD. They may be able:
- To recognize ADHD behaviors in their children earlier than others
- Understand what their child is experiencing at home and in school
- Share effective techniques for managing ADHD behaviors
Treating a child's ADHD and not treating a parent's is not very effective. The parent's undiagnosed or undertreated ADHD will continue to get in the way. A better solution is to treat both parent and child at the same time.
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