Although most of us have heard about the problems ADHD can cause children, fewer people are aware that the condition can persist into adulthood. According to recent studies, almost 7% of adults have symptomatic adult ADHD. In addition, around 70% of these experience issues with emotional dysregulation that include irritability and anger, which can significantly impact parenting.
These numbers suggest that there may be many parents with ADHD, especially since adults often go undiagnosed. In this article, we explore the effects a parent with ADHD may have on a child, what it means for the children of ADHD parents in the long term and how to resolve these issues.
What Is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to concentrate and focus. They may also have a short attention span, fidget a lot and often act without thinking. It can also cause emotional instability. The causes of ADHD remain unknown, but it does have a strong genetic component. A child with ADHD will often have at least one parent with the same condition.
Common Ways ADHD Can Affect the Parental Role
It’s common for parents with ADHD to feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. Because they may struggle with poor organizational skills, keeping to their children’s schedules and managing their behavior is a challenge, and the frustrations that come up can lead to anger issues.
Knowing someone is angry with you can be distressing on many levels. This effect is multiplied for children, who don’t have the life experience to understand how to deal with their parent’s emotions. But the problems for a parent with anger issues go beyond that: When you’re angry, your decision-making ability is reduced, and your overall relationship with your children is negatively affected.
Another significant impact on children growing up with an ADHD mother or father can be a lack of stability. When a parent often loses focus, the child may not know where they stand, leading to confusion and insecurity. This can also lead to children taking on tasks the parent would normally do because the parent has forgotten about them or simply hasn’t made time for them.
Long-Term Effects of Growing Up with an ADHD Parent
The effects of growing up with an ADHD parent can last through adult life. Unfortunately, many parents believe that, as long as they don’t physically harm the child, there’s no problem. However, the long-term effects can include:
- Poor emotional adjustment
- Increased instances of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation
- Higher rates of spousal abuse
- Poor educational outcomes
- Reduced career prospects
- Higher risk of poverty and homelessness
- Increased risk of substance abuse and addiction
Resolving Trauma Caused by an ADHD Parent
Of course, many parents with ADHD are able to manage their condition and can be outstanding parents. But this isn’t always the case, and if you grew up with a parent with ADHD, you may need to find ways of coping with the trauma and dealing with some of the issues mentioned earlier. Some helpful steps to take include:
- Take stock of the relationship you currently have with the parent with ADHD. If their ADHD symptoms, such as unreliability or anger and irritability, are still causing problems and causing you stress and anxiety, it may be time to step away and make a clean break. This may cause some feelings of guilt, but you need to prioritize your own mental health. It may also cause them to look at their own situation, paving the way for better relationships later on.
- Consider seeking a therapist. The trauma you experienced may have caused lasting mental scars, even if your parent never physically harmed you. A good therapist can help resolve this.
- Join a support group. Seeking out other people with experiences similar to your own may introduce you to methods of coping you never considered before. It’s also easier to talk to people who’ve had similar experiences that partners, friends or family members might not understand.
- Encourage your parent to seek help. Helping your parent manage issues caused by their ADHD may improve your relationship and help heal some of your trauma.
How a Parent With ADHD Can Mitigate Damage to Their Children
If you’re a parent with ADHD and you’re worried about its long-term impacts on your kids, don’t despair. There are many things you can do to reduce any damage the symptoms of your ADHD might have caused your children and even improve your relationship with them for the long term.
First, get help. This is the most essential part of mitigating potential damage to your children. There’s no shame in admitting you need help, and many experts on treating ADHD and the other issues associated with it are available.
Secondly, talk to your children honestly. Even fairly young children can understand that their parent has an illness, and letting them know you’re trying to deal with it and you love and care for them can go a long way. If you have an angry outburst or miss an important event because of your lack of organizational skills, offer a sincere apology and make it clear they weren’t at fault. When your child understands what’s going on, they’re less likely to blame themselves and engage in harmful thoughts and behaviors.
Finally, find ways to become more organized. Use color-coded charts that remind you of essential tasks and events or program reminders on your cellphone. People with ADHD are often very creative, so use that to your advantage when designing strategies to manage your family’s schedules.
Restore Can Help Resolve ADHD-Related Issues
In past decades, ADHD was thought to be a childhood condition and help for adults was difficult to obtain. However, times have changed, and adults with ADHD can find support in the form of medications, therapy and group counseling.
At Restore, we offer a holistic approach to ADHD treatment. Our programs bring together exercise routines, medication, therapy and working with patients to examine their entire lifestyle. If you believe your ADHD is causing issues that negatively impact your family life, reach out to us today and talk to one of our trained professionals to put together a program tailored to the needs of you and your family.