Frequently Asked Questions: Family Members with ADHD

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • How do I best help my child with ADHD?


    Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge.  The key to helping your child succeed and learn success with ADHD is through knowledge and understanding of ADHD.  Once you learn and can determine the ways in which ADHD may interfere with their learning, social or other factors, you can help them to develop the strategies they may need to overcome obstacles in their life.


    In addition, ADHD has many wonderful characteristics and many children with ADHD are creative, artistic, humorous, intelligent and much more.  Understanding their strengths and teaching them ways to work with them in order to succeed can help in increasing their self-esteem.

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    How do I help my spouse manage their ADHD?


    Each person brings his or her own uniqueness to a partnership.  Although there is much said about the problems of dealing with ADHD in a relationship, finding the strengths and positives that ADHD brings can bring about great rewards.  Determine what each person brings into the relationship and where their strengths lie.  Work around those abilities so that the responsibilities are divided based on ability.  The motivation to complete chores will be much higher if based upon the individual skills.  Chores and responsibilities that neither partner wants should be divided as evenly as possible.


    Develop reminder methods that are written down, so the partner with ADHD does not feel they are failing by not remembering certain things.  Use white boards, email and other methods of communicating what needs to be done.


    Concentrate on the goodness of the relationship, the energy of the partner with ADHD, the creative problem solving, and their positive attributes.  Don't use ADHD as an excuse.  Understand ADHD and any limitations it may bring.  Work together to find solutions


    What can I do if my spouse doesn't want treatment for ADHD?


    This would depend on how much you feel that ADHD is causing problems in your relationship.  If you have been managing fine for years, and your partner has now discovered he/she has ADHD, treatment may not be necessary.  Remember that ADHD is a disorder only to the extent that it causes impairment. 


    If you feel that ADHD is causing problems in your relationship, in your spouse's work or elsewhere, then first read as much as you can to understand ADHD.  Talk with other spouse's to see what they have done and to receive support for yourself. 


    If your spouse refuses any treatment and you feel that without such treatment, you cannot continue in the relationship, let them know that.  Keep in mind, many adults with ADHD, especially those recently diagnosed, have spent many years struggling and often feeling like they are failures.   Sometimes, it is easier to continue failing then to try again and fail again.  There is comfort and security in what is known, even if it is unhealthy.  


    If they are not interested in any type of treatment, encourage them to at least join a support group and begin to talk with other adults dealing with ADHD.


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    How does ADHD affect relationships?


    Many couples dealing with ADHD report that some of the following are problems in their relationships:


    Hard time with communication. The partner with ADHD may have a difficult time listening or with communicating their ideas effectively.


    Memory-The partner with ADHD may consistently forget to do what they are supposed to do, forget to stop at the store, forget to pick up the dry cleaning, forget to help with chores or never being on time.  This can cause the one partner to feel they must single handedly take care of all of the details of running a household, creating resentment and frustration.


    Easily bored-many adults with ADHD report having jumped from job to job, becoming bored once a job is learned.  Or the individual may jump from one project to another without completing any.  This can leave the house in disarray, and many chores half completed.  


    How can I help relatives/friends to understand ADHD?


    If you feel that it is necessary to educate friends and relatives on ADHD, then the best way would be to become as knowledgeable as possible yourself.  Although it can be difficult for those that do not live with ADHD to understand.  Many may feel that you are making excuses for behaviors or covering up for weaknesses. 


    First, determine why you feel it is necessary.  If your friend or relative is a caregiver for your child with ADHD, then it is necessary and they should read as much as they can to help understand your child.   If you are trying to explain your spouse's sometimes strange, sometimes unreliable behavior, then you may end up sounding as if you are excusing certain behaviors. 


    If you are looking for support for yourself in dealing with ADHD, you may be best to seek out those that are also dealing with ADHD in their life, therefore, understanding the ups and the downs of your life.

Published On: April 22, 2009