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You may have heard the expression, "the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree." While this axiom is intended to refer to certain traits and characteristics being passed from one generation to the next, it can also hold true for the child of a parent with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Several studies have demonstrated that ADHD is commonly inherited, often running through the entire family tree. In fact, research now shows that a parent with ADHD is 24 times more likely to have an attention deficit disorder (ADD)/ADHD child. Furthermore, a parent with ADHD isn’t likely to outgrow it.
Often, a parent with ADHD is not aware that they even have the condition. Diagnosing children with ADHD, on the other hand, became somewhat of a phenomenon during the 1980s. But, it wasn’t until the following decade that adult ADHD became the disorder of popularity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the incidence of ADHD has increased over the years. However, it does suggest that today’s parent with ADHD probably escaped diagnosis as a child.
Not surprisingly though, a parent with ADHD exhibits symptoms similar to the ADHD child. The most obvious symptom is hyperactivity, although not every parent with ADHD will display signs of this. Most commonly, ADD adults have trouble with concentration and organization, as well as exhibit impulsive tendencies. A parent with ADHD may also have a decreased tolerance to stress and may frequently experience high and low mood swings.
These symptoms, however, may go unnoticed since adults have more opportunity to develop a variety of coping strategies than children typically do. Unfortunately, some of these methods may involve alcohol or drug abuse to combat accompanying depression and insomnia. It’s also not out of the ordinary for an adult to be outwardly assertive in terms of career actions for example, compared to a child who consistently disrupts the classroom.
Fortunately, there is help available for adults struggling with parenting with ADHD or ADD. One of the most valuable tools available today is the assistance of a certified ADD coach. The ADD coach is specifically trained to help parents take a proactive role in developing strategies to avoid self-defeating behaviors. Generally, this is achieved through role-playing and simulation. Many coaches are physicians, psychologists, teachers, and also parents.
The most important thing for a parent with ADHD to remember is that past actions or behaviors do not have to dictate the present. With help and determination, the ADHD adult can learn how to move beyond self-limitations and become more self-regulating. More importantly, the parent with ADHD can be an excellent model and advocate for their ADHD child.