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Parents of ADHD Children

Married but feel like I'm raising my ADHD child alone

I have a 10 year old son who has ADHD, strong emphasis on the “hyper” part. He is on medication but when he isn’t on it during the weekends or in the evening when it wears off my husband has zero patience with him. I feel like I am constantly In The middle and defending our son. It is a lonely place to be most of the time. Do any parents feel this way or deal with this from a spouse? Our son has been diagnosed for 5 years and is on the honor roll at school, he is a great kid and yes he is typical ADHD and yes its frustrating sometimes but I feel like I’m alone with this, any advice is appreciated. I love my child and I wouldn’t change a thing about him. smile


Sorry to be so blunt, but there is no reason why you should expect that his “honor roll” persona will be displayed at home when your husband is around him when the thing that helps your son maintain that “honor roll” persona at school is no longer in his system.

Personal & family relationships are just as important, if not more so, than going to school and making good grades.  Making the “honor roll” during school hours five days a week won’t mean a thing if his home life is stressed out and his relationship with his father is in jeopardy.

Back to being blunt—why do so many people think that taking medication needs to be reserved for school only?  Why do so many people think that weekends off of medications is a good thing?  Why do so many people NOT realize that in some ways and on some levels school is a whole hell of a lot easier than “real life”?

Posted by BC on Apr 14, 2014 at 7:30am

BC has a good point in that it is important for medication to be used in any situation where it would be helpful, including at home. It can be difficult given some of the side effects, such as lack of hunger, but getting the balance right so that home relationships don’t suffer either is important.

Of course one of the ways ADHD is diagnosed is that the condition affects all areas of life; home, school, social, etc. So it’s not surprising that it’s having such a difficult result at home. I’m sure many, many parents will feel as you do. Sometimes it’s worse for the Dad to understand since their role is often thought of as ‘discipline’ and ‘teach respect’. One of the most painful, regretful, and unfair aspects of ADHD is that the symptoms are ones in which it appears as though the person should have control over them, yet they don’t. The impulsive, hyper, difficult to control traits, can wreak havoc.

One other terribly sad side effect of ADHD is that of the divorce rate. Parents of ADHD children divorce at a higher rate than average and those with ADHD divorce at an increased percentage, too. So finding a way to co-parent with your husband is very important. And it’s really, really hard.

As is always said, therapy can do wonders. A therapist can explain the condition in way that may help the situation. Often we’ll listen to others more so than our own family. If there is chaos at home, which there always is, let’s be honest, then everyone being able to control their emotions is very much compromised.

Extending the medication so it’s still effective in the evening and on the weekends, when your husband is probably spending the most time with your son, may be helpful. It’s great that your son is doing so well in school, but often these kids need a booster dose in order to concentrate at home. Talk to your pediatrician.

Hang in there! We’ve all been in the same boat at one point or another. With therapy and medication it may be a lot easier for you to be a happy couple, family and have a happier Dad that way too. Best of luck!

Posted by Havebeenthere on Apr 14, 2014 at 7:54am

This is to BC… I don’t expect him to be on honor roll behavior while at home without medication you missed my point completely. This is more of an issue with lack of patience and understanding from my husband. I was really looking for how others dealt with a spouse who doesn’t seem to understand what our son goes through with this. As for medicating him all the time, I just have always tried to give him some free time to just let it all out, something which I have discussed with his pediatrician. And to be blunt back, lot’s of people judge without fully understanding. I was just hoping to talk to others who could relate.

Posted by SarahK on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:12am

To HaveBeenThere… Thank you for being understanding and sharing your thoughts. My son is actually on a patch so it’s only good for 9 hours and it works great. I may go to half the patch for weekends, I just feel a lot of guilt for having him constantly medicated. Thank you again.

Posted by SarahK on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:15am

Yes there are lots of people who think that “free time to just let it all out” is the “proper” way to look at it.  I wonder if that has something to do with the way one views the ADHD symptoms as the “natural self” or the “authentic personality” then medicating those symptoms is akin to limiting one’s freedom (kinda like putting a dog on a leash or putting a wild animal in a cage).

I’m looking at this primarily from the point of view of an adult who knows what it FEELS like to have ADHD, be judged by less than patient people with limited understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD.  I’m looking at it from your child’s point of view, too.

Maybe this analogy will help. If my task for the day was to be around someone with limited patience and not a lot of understanding or empathy for my position, and my task master decided that for whatever reason I should do it while not being medicated (and assures me that because the task master ran it by the physician that means it’s ok or a good idea) then as an adult I would look my task master straight in the eye and say, “Are you high?  Do you want to set me up to fail?  Why do you want to make this more difficult for everyone involved?”

I would continue: “How about we work on his patience and his limited understanding for a while before I have to try to get along with him & not get on his nerves, and do it while in my ‘natural’ unmedicated state.”

Posted by BC on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:34am

Please do not feel guilty for “having him constantly medicated.”  It’s not a “bad” thing.  For those of us who live WITH having ADHD (& who take meds that work & don’t cause unnecessary side effects) taking meds is a “good thing.”  I love it when my meds are working; I hate it when they wear off; I hate it even more when I forget to take them and have to function without them.

And if someone else was in charge of doling out my meds but they “felt guilty” giving them to me—so I only got to take them during school hours, never a booster dose for evening, and never on weekends (which technically & semantically means that they had decided that it was more important that they relieve their own feelings of guilt than do what is best for me—relieve my own suffering)...

You are feeling unnecessary guilt, and that is what is driving you to make decisions which are not necessarily in your child’s best interest (nor in your husband’s best interest).

...and if the person doling out my meds decided to only give me half of my usual effective dose on the weekends (again because it was more important for them to not feel as guilty as they would feel by giving me the full effective dose)...

Posted by BC on Apr 14, 2014 at 9:05am

I deeply sympathize what you are dealing with, because I have gone through the same thing myself. I had been in a small room with a number of kids who I was much smarter than which frustrated me. I also try very difficult and do not do as well as people who don’t. I used to get similar grades to yours after i was trying harder than everybody (within reason). Then, My psychologist prescribed an ADHD medication, and today I can take all that extra effort and put it on. It has really helped me and I’m getting honor roll and that i got choices into a much better school through the district with all mainstream classes.

I’m not suggesting that this is necessarily list of positive actions, but take it into consideration. I am certain that you are trying really hard to compensate for the disability, and if you treat the disability itself, you’re going to get a leg ahead when you are conditioned to try as hard as possible.

Posted by GarrettHnatiuk on Apr 14, 2014 at 10:29am

Thank you all who have been supportive. I should mention also that I have ADD and I grew up without any medication, since I was just diagnosed at 40. So I do understand how it feels, I was constantly in trouble for talking as a child and not staying seated or not staying focused etc. I don’t take medication now, I tried it but then I got complaints at work that I was too focused if you can believe that…. anyway, I understand the need for medication and what he takes is great for him. I will definitely work through this guilt and do what’s best for him. Everyone is right about that for sure. Thank you all again. It is really nice to have people to talk to about this that really understand.

Posted by SarahK on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:09pm

Just one more suggestion.  From what I’ve heard from doctors who specialize in treating ADHD, when an ADHD med works so “well” that it induces an unrelenting hyper-focus (sounds like what you describe to be what your co-workers observed) that this is a sign that the right medication is being given at too high of a dose.

Posted by BC on Apr 14, 2014 at 3:53pm

I can totally feel for you.  I have a very similar situation, except it is my husband/his father who had the ADD.  Our son is 12 now and I mostly leave it up to him if he wants to have extra medication in the evenings and weekends.He does not like needing to take the meds.  It’s not that he has any major side effects, he just wants to be like a “normal” kid. I try not to encourage extra unless he has a function or sports game to attend.

  During his off meds time, his dad has very little patience for him and they more often than not end up in screaming matches.  I always end up getting in between them to smooth things over. Their relationship is very strained and my son has asked more than once if he & I could just move out & leave his dad behind.  My son is currently in therapy and working on his issues with his therapist.  (Can’t say the same for dad though.) Also, I have read that statistics are not in our favor when it comes to families coping with ADD/ADHD and divorce rates.  It puts a greater strain on the relationship when both parents are not in sync with parenting styles for the child. 

For those people who say we need to medicate them their entire waking life, shame on you!  A child’s home should be the one place where they can feel safe to be themselves.  And it’s up to ALL parents to give them that sense of security. I can honestly say it’s during his non-med time that my son is not only more hyper and wound up, but it’s also his funniest, wittiest, and most loving time.  I wouldn’t trade that for a pill any day.

I don’t have any answers for you but as the mother of a son whose father doesn’t see eye to eye with him, all I can offer you is sympathy and emotional support.  Good luck.

Posted by Machelle B on Apr 14, 2014 at 4:21pm

Yes, I am the referee between my husband and son 80% of the time. My son has ADHD, I suspect my husband is where he inherited it from. They are far too alike for their own good. It’s exhausting and creates a lot of animosity. One thing I’ve learned (the hard way) is to not correct what I feel my husband is doing wrong or isn’t understanding in front of the child. It’s oh, so hard when you feel like your child is being “mistreated” but it is necessary for all involved.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 14, 2014 at 6:03pm

I have been there.  Our daughter is 9 with ADHD and my husband the one who has ADHD also.  He just totally checks out when our daughter is having a difficult time.  He just does not want to deal so if I am home then he lets me deal, if I am not, who knows what he does, let’s our 11 year old son take care of her I suspect.

Family counseling might not be a bad idea if you can get your husband to go.  But you might want to find a therapist who will focus on skills rather than feelings.  I’ve tried to get my husband to engage more.  We’ve talked about it in therapy, downloaded parenting lectures, I’ve asked him to listen to the Dr Barkley lecture about ADHD so he can get some perspective on what our daughter is going though, although you’d think he HAS perspective!  But he just won’t do it.  So at a certain point I have to stop intervening and let him be the parent he is going to be… at least all the work we’ve done together has made me a better parent!

And maybe you can ask your pediatrician to look into the new research on medicine holidays for ADHD.  I think the community is starting to rethink the wisdom of it.  We used to give our daughter medicine holidays so she would eat but it didn’t make that much of a difference and it just caused conflict in our household.  And my husband has seen some articles (at least he keeps up with the research on ADHD!) that show that there can be a withdrawl effect from the medicine.  But it is not like he will ever be able to go off the meds and function well probably.  He may develop some skills to mitigate the symptoms but it is an organ of the body that is not functioning properly - if he needed heart meds and they took away his appetite you wouldn’t give a medicine holiday.  Maybe you could talk to a pediatric psychiatrist.  I think a psychiatrist should be the prescribing physician for brain malfunctions, not a pediatrician who is a generalist.  You really want a specialist who is keeping up with his field.  You don’t know when was the last time the doctor read research on ADHD which is a psychological specialization, when he has a thousand other maladies to be concerned about for his other patients.  No sense in trying to navigate it on your own when there are specialists out there.  And diet changes are helpful but entirely wishful thinking for anything over the mildest forms of ADHD.

Posted by YellaRyan on Apr 14, 2014 at 10:09pm

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