ADD/ADHD and Parenthood

There is a reason that if you walk through any bookstore or peruse the internet for how-to guides, you’ll find countless books on parenting. Perhaps more specifically, you’ll find books on motherhood, mothering, how to be a good mother, how not to be a bad mother, and so on and so forth. The reason, of course, is because raising a child (or children) can be quite hectic.

Doing so with a disability–even one as casually thrown around and diagnosed as ADD or ADHD–can make the process even more difficult.

Imagine for a moment attempting to keep control over a group of children ranging in ages from four to 16. If you were a stay-at-home parent, caring and providing for these children would amount to your full-time job. Parenthood can certainly be a full-time job; it can be one that challenges you creatively and exhausts you mentally. Raising and caring for children is one of the world’s most enjoyable and rewarding experiences, but it involves high degrees of attention and can be debilitating at the end of the day.

Now imagine trying to do the same exact thing–cooking, cleaning, feeding, watching children, keeping them entertained and safe, and keeping the house in relative order while also waging a similar battle against a mental disability like ADD or ADHD. The tasks at hand become significantly more difficult and daunting, and it’s an unfortunate fact that this battle often falls by the wayside.

When you consider the larger cohort of adults with disabilities, people often solely consider those with debilitating mental or physical disabilities. And while those individuals certainly deserve attention, care and respect, it leaves out those who suffer from disabilities that are considered to be more “minor,” including ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety or eating disorders. It’s estimated that 60 percent of children with ADHD carry the disability into adulthood.

And while that represents only four percent of the adult population, that means that there are 8 million adults, roughly, who are dealing with just that one mental disability, putting themselves into a constant battle in their daily life. The day-to-day of a parent with ADHD can be a constant fight between staying concentrated and allowing your mind to wander, wonderfully detailed in this blog post from Jessica Jurkovic. The battle can be even more exhausting and feel more futile if your children suffer from similar disabilities, as is the case in Ril Giles’ blog post detailing her strategy for keeping a happy and healthy household.

While disorders like ADD and ADHD are typically associated with children, the problems and symptoms that arise often persist into adulthood. Seeking behavior therapy and learning to cope with the illness–no matter how large or small–is step one to living a healthy and happy life with you and your children. In some ways, though, they can even be looked at in positive lights–if your children suffer from the same disabilities you can empathize and connect more closely with them, understanding the illness and its drawbacks. In fact, Jet Blue Airways founder David Neeleman says that he wouldn’t give up his ADHD, and that it allows him to think outside the box and be even more successful in life.

Life, even one with disabilities, is what you make of it. Living with a disability can be daunting, but embracing it is the first step to overcoming the adversity that accompanies a disability.


For more information on Carole Argo, the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives and other nonprofits, visit and