How ADHD affects the family

Having a child with ADHD creates a completely unique family dynamic. When you add extra children and a spouse to the mix you may feel like you have a little too much to deal with. There is added pressure on your marriage as ADHD parents due to stress and conflict in the home.

The good news is that with a bit of extra planning and structure, your family can be just as ‘normal’ as the next.

Often the child with ADHD is given the burden of changing or being the ‘different one’ in the family. It is easy to point fingers and blame the ADHD child for everything that goes wrong or for every fight that takes place. Be sure to find out which child is truly responsible each time, and to treat each family member as an equal.
The same rules need to apply to everyone in the family and your ADHD child shouldn't get preferential treatment. This includes things like waiting his/her turn, sharing toys, tidying up their mess and doing their chores.

Other issues ADHD may raise
  • Siblings are affected by inevitable frustration in the family and the ADHD child often demands all the attention. It is important to ensure that each child gets their needs met.
  • Children with ADHD often receive, and expect, criticism. Look for good behavior and praise it.
  • Non-ADHD siblings can try to be perfect to please you (the "good child" role). Siblings may consistently point out what they are doing right, needing affirmation of how good they are.
  • Siblings can also start to do poorly in school or misbehave at home, mimicking the behavior of the child with ADHD. 
  • Siblings can demand attention, throw temper tantrums or consistently interrupt their parents.  This may be to compensate for feeling as if they are not noticed or out of jealousy of all the attention the ADHD child is receiving.
  • Parents often make the mistake of making siblings feel guilty for "not having ADHD". For example, comments like ‘You should be thankful that you're not...’
  • The non-ADHD sibling may resent that he is expected to behave and not engage in inappropriate behavior. He may feel that his sibling gets extra chances or more rewards.
  • Siblings often feel resentful that many activities are controlled by their ADHD brother/sister.  They often think that their fun is ruined.
  • Many siblings report that they feel expected to act as their ADHD sibling's caretaker. They are often placed in the role of befriending, playing with and supervising the ADHD child. This includes giving medication, helping with homework, protecting them at school, keeping their sibling out of trouble and taking over when their parents are exhausted. 

The good side of ADHD

  • Children with ADHD bring a one-of-a-kind punch of energy to any family. They bring life, fun and enthusiasm. 
  • Being particularly sensitive, they often understand on a far deeper emotional level than their peers.
  • Sometimes, when he has pulled yet another crazy stunt, you may find yourself laughing (along with his brothers and sisters) instead of yelling. There is certainly never a dull moment!
Read more about the Unique needs of ADHD families.

Has ADHD affected your family? Comment below or mail your story to
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