Parents with ADHD are known to struggle with various aspects of their role. Young adulthood is a significant developmental period marked by transition and new parental needs, however there is a dearth of studies on ADHD parenting specific to this age group. In this qualitative study, we explored how young adults aged 18 to 25 perceived the quality of their relationship with their ADHD parent. Four participants engaged in semi-structured interviews regarding the relationship with their parent and perceived strengths and difficulties. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, four themes were identified. These include: (1) Close Relationship and Quality Time; (2) Empathy as a Parental Strength; (3) The Chaos; (4) Lessons Learnt. Findings highlight the unique characteristics of ADHD parenting and implications for clinical practice are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ahlström, B., & Wentz, E. (2014). Difficulties in everyday life: Young persons with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders perspectives. A chat-log analysis. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 9(1), 23376. https://doi.org/10.3402/qhw.v9.23376.
Barber, S., Grubbs, L., & Cottrell, B. (2005). Self-perception in children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 20(4), 235–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2005.02.012.
Betts, L., Trueman, M., Chiverton, L., Stanbridge, A., & Stephens, J. (2012). Parental rearing style as a predictor of attachment and psychosocial adjustment during young adulthood. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(6), 675–693. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407512465998.
Biederman, J., Faraone, S., & Monuteaux, M. (2002). Differential effects of environmental adversity by gender: Rutter’s index of adversity in a group of boys and girls with and without ADHD. Journal of Psychiatry, 159(9), 1556–1562. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.9.1556.
Brod, M., Pohlman, B., Lasser, R., & Hodgkins, P. (2012). Comparison of the burden of illness for adults with ADHD across seven countries: A qualitative study. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 10(1), 47. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7525-10-47.
Campbell, J., & Gilmore, L. (2007). Intergenerational continuities and discontinuities in parenting styles. Australian Journal of Psychology, 59(3), 140–150. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049530701449471.
Carr, A. (2008). The effectiveness of family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems. Journal of Family Therapy, 31(1), 3–45. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12032.
Choate, P., & Engstrom, S. (2014). The “good enough” parent: Implications for child protection. Child Care in Practice, 20(4), 368–382. https://doi.org/10.1080/13575279.2014.915794.
Davidson, M. (2007). Literature review: ADHD in Adults. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(6), 628–641. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054707310878.
Dallos, R., & Smart, C. (2011). An exploration of family dynamics and attachment strategies in a family with ADHD/conduct problems. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 16(4), 535–550. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104510387391.
Dowling, R. (2005). Power, subjectivity and ethics in qualitative research. Qualitative research methods in human geography (pp. 19–29). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.
Eakin, L., Minde, K., Hechtman, L., Ochs, E., Krane, E., Bouffard, R., et al. (2004). The marital and family functioning of adults with ADHD and their spouses. Journal of Attention Disorders, 8(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/108705470400800101.
Everett, C. A., & Everett, S. V. (1999). Family therapy for ADHD: Treating children, adolescents, and adults. New York: Guilford.
Fatima, S., Sheikh, H., & Ardila, A. (2016). Association of parent–child relationships and executive functioning in South Asian adolescents. Neuropsychology, 30(1), 65–74. https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000216.
Firmin, M., & Phillips, A. (2009). A qualitative study of families and children possessing diagnoses of ADHD. Journal of Family Issues, 30(9), 1155–1174. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513x09333709.
Halleröd, S. L. H., Anckarsäter, H., Råstam, M., & Scherman, M. H. (2015). Experienced consequences of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult—A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-015-0410-4.
Harpin, V. (2005). The effect of ADHD on the life of an individual, their family, and community from preschool to adult life. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90(Suppl_1), i2–i7. https://doi.org/10.1136/adc.2004.059006.
Husserl, E. (1995). The idea of phenomenology. Göteborg: Daidalos.
Johnston, C., Lui, J., & Williamson, D. (2014). Adult ADHD and positive parenting—Is there a relationship? The ADHD Report, 22(1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1521/adhd.2014.22.1.1.
Johnston, C., Mash, E., Miller, N., & Ninowski, J. (2012). Parenting in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clinical Psychology Review, 32(4), 215–228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2012.01.007.
Johnston, C., Williamson, D., Noyes, A., Stewart, K., & Weiss, M. D. (2018). Parent and child ADHD symptoms in relation to parental attitudes and parenting: Testing the similarity-fit hypothesis. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 47(Suppl 1), S127–S136. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2016.1169538.
Koehn, A., & Kerns, K. (2017). Parent–child attachment: Meta-analysis of associations with parenting behaviors in middle childhood and adolescence. Attachment and Human Development, 20(4), 378–405. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2017.1408131.
Kristensen, H., Parker, J., Taylor, R., Keefer, K., Kloosterman, P., & Summerfeldt, L. (2014). The relationship between trait emotional intelligence and ADHD symptoms in adolescents and young adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 65, 36–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.031.
Krueger, M., & Kendall, J. (2001). Descriptions of self: An exploratory study of adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 14(2), 61–72. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6171.2001.tb00294.x.
Lifford, K. J., Harold, G. T., & Thapar, A. (2008). Parent–child relationships and ADHD symptoms: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 36(2), 285–296. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-007-9177-5.
Margari, F., Criag, F., Petruzzelli, M. G., Lamanna, A., Matera, E., & Margari, L. (2013). Parents psychopathology of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(3), 1036–1043. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2012.12.001.
Martin, A. (2014). The role of ADHD in academic adversity: Disentangling ADHD effects from other personal and contextual factors. School Psychology Quarterly, 29(4), 395–408. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000069.
Mazursky-Horowitz, H., Felton, J., MacPherson, L., Ehrlich, K., Cassidy, J., Lejuez, C., & Chronis-Tuscano, A. (2014). Maternal emotion regulation mediates the association between adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms and parenting. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(1), 121–131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-014-9894-5.
Modesto-Lowe, V., Chaplin, M., Godsay, V., & Soovajian, V. (2014). Parenting teens with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Clinical Pediatrics, 53(10), 943–948. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922814540984.
Modesto-Lowe, V., Danforth, J., & Brooks, D. (2008). ADHD: Does parenting style matter? Clinical Pediatrics, 47(9), 865–872. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922808319963.
Mokrova, I., O’Brien, M., Calkins, S., & Keane, S. (2010). Parental ADHD symptomology and ineffective parenting: The connecting link of home chaos. Parenting, 10(2), 119–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295190903212844.
Montejo, J. E., Durán, M., Martínez, M., Hilari, A., Roncalli, N., Vilaregut, A., et al. (2019). Family functioning and parental bonding during childhood in adults diagnosed with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054715596578.
Palaganas, E. C., Sanchez, M. C., Molintas, V. P., & Caricativo, R. D. (2017). Reflexivity in qualitative research: A journey of learning. Qualitative Report, 22(2), 426.
Park, J., Hudec, K., & Johnston, C. (2017). Parental ADHD symptoms and parenting behaviors: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 56, 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2017.05.003.
Psychogiou, L., Daley, D., Thompson, M., & Sonuga-Barke, E. (2007). Testing the interactive effect of parent and child ADHD on parenting in mothers and fathers: A further test of the similarity-fit hypothesis. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25(3), 419–433. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151006x170281.
Quintero, J., Vera, R., Morales, I., Zuluaga, P., & Fernández, A. (2017). Emotional intelligence as an evolutive factor on adult with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 108705471668825,. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054716688251.
Searight, H. R., Burke, J. M., & Rottnek, F. (2000). Adult ADHD: Evaluation and treatment in family medicine. American Family Physician, 62(9), 2077.
Schei, J., Jozefiak, T., Nøvik, T., Lydersen, S., & Indredavik, M. (2013). The impact of coexisting emotional and conduct problems on family functioning and quality of life among adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 20(5), 424–433. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054713507976.
Smith, J. A. (1996). Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: Using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology. Psychology and Health, 11(2), 261–271. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870449608400256.
Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Osborn, M. (1997). Interpretative phenomenological analysis and the psychology of health and illness. In L. Yardley (Ed.), Material discourses of health and illness (pp. 68–91). London: Routledge.
Starck, M., Grünwald, J., & Schlarb, A. A. (2016). Occurrence of ADHD in parents of ADHD children in a clinical sample. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 581–588. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S100238.
Stern, J., Borelli, J., & Smiley, P. (2014). Assessing parental empathy: A role for empathy in child attachment. Attachment and Human Development, 17(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2014.969749.
Theule, J., Wiener, J., Tannock, R., & Jenkins, J. (2010). Parenting stress in families of children with ADHD. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 21(1), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/1063426610387433.
van Steijn, D., Oerlemans, A., van Aken, M., Buitelaar, J., & Rommelse, N. (2012). Match or mismatch? Influence of parental and offspring ASD and ADHD symptoms on the parent–child relationship. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(8), 1935–1945. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1746-y.
Young, S., Bramham, J., Gray, K., & Rose, E. (2008). The experience of receiving a diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adulthood. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11(4), 493–503. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054707305172.
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Belo-Tomic, S., Quinlan, E. & Read, E. Young Adult’s Perception of Their Relationship with an ADHD Parent: A Qualitative Study. Contemp Fam Ther (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-021-09566-w
- ADHD parenting
- Adult ADHD
- Parents with ADHD
- Young adulthood