Can ADHD Be Inherited?

It is generally believed now that there is a strong genetic connection of ADD and ADHD in families. Therefore, if one or more children are diagnosed in a family, then there is a good chance that at least one of the parents will exhibit symptoms also. With this connection in evidence it is inevitable that many adults (with ADD or ADHD) will find themselves raising a child who also suffers. Many of these ADD parents raising ADD kids were themselves brought up by one or more ADD parents! These grandparents and parents would more than likely have been undiagnosed and therefore treated.

It is generally believed now that there is a strong genetic connection of ADD and ADHD in families. Read more.Awareness of ADD and ADHD is only in the early stages, so for many children in Britain today, getting help and/or treatment is still a lottery. Unfortunately for us, because of the way ADD is perceived, many of our professionals are not yet taking on board that the cycle goes in both directions. It has been shown that ADD families have higher divorce rates, many ADD and ADHD children have been adopted, rates for domestic violence are higher, many of these children are taken into care for either abuse or perceived abuse and so on, so considering this long line of untreated ADD running through families, is it any wonder that many parents have difficulties?

So what can we do to improve things? First of all realize how our ADD affects our way of parenting. We know that these children do best in a structured environment .... which is totally the opposite to the way many of us live! This lack of structure does nothing to help the child who needs to know what he is supposed to be doing at all times. What an ADD adult may well regard as spontaneity, an ADD child may interpret as uncertainty or unpredictability. What about our impulsive natures? Do we often over react just like our children? Think about it. Perhaps your child may feel that he or she cannot depend on you for firm boundaries and consistent support.

Our ADD kids needs structure, structure and more structure, masses of support and a stable environment. Without these, they are being set up to fail, regardless of any medication they might be taking. The unfortunate thing is, that ADD adults often have difficulty providing this type of environment. How can we therefore parent these children in a more effective way? Well, for a start it is important to remember that the parent is the parent and the child is the child. As the adult in the relationship the responsibility must be with us at all times. We must keep control of situations, have the confidence to make (and enforce) rules and have the final say in discussion. Difficult I know - my son would argue the hind legs off a donkey. What often confuses issues is the fact that many situations which cause us difficulty as parents, are brought about by the child's reaction to something we have done and this unfortunately can turn some issues into chicken and egg situations which can escalate and escalate into total chaos and anarchy if the brakes aren't applied somewhere. This has to be our job, bearing in mind an understanding of our own possible ADD.

It often helps to reflect on what has worked and what hasn't in the past. Does shouting and screaming at an already wound up ADHD child really work? It is true, we may yell because we were yelled at as children, or we may have been driven to near distraction by the child's antics on a particular day, or because it is in our temperamental make up too. But if it has little or no effect on the child why continue to yell?

Sometimes, adding humor to a situation helps. I am confident enough by now, through knowing all about ADHD and by being able to understand how my son ticks, to turn difficult situations into jokes. Yes it is frustrating when your 12 year old sprinkles talcum all over YOUR bedroom floor, but getting him to vacuum it up (even after extended tantrumming) saying "This will stand you in good stead for when you get your own place son" wink, wink will make you feel better and also make him feel not as bad about his behavior.

So, simply put, often all that is needed is the belief in your own methods and the confidence to carry things out. This can be very difficult, especially if your parenting skills have been brought into question at any time, and your personality is such that you behave rather as your child does at times! But remember, parents of ADD and ADHD children do a more than excellent job under extremely difficult circumstances. Added to this may be the knock-on effects of their own ADD.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, June 6). Can ADHD Be Inherited?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: February 14, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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