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Can people with ADHD have kids?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It often begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood. Many adults with ADHD decide to have children and wonder if their condition will impact their ability to be a parent. This article examines if those with ADHD can have kids and raise them successfully.

Overview of ADHD

ADHD is estimated to affect around 2.5% of adults. The main symptoms include:

  • Difficulty paying attention and staying focused
  • Excessive activity and restlessness
  • Acting impulsively without thinking

These symptoms can make it challenging for a person with ADHD to organize, stick to routines, control emotions, and remember details. The exact causes are unknown but likely involve genetics, brain chemistry and development, and environmental factors.

While ADHD begins in childhood for most, at least 30% to 60% continue having symptoms as adults. Some people are not diagnosed until adulthood when the demands of school, work, and family bring the condition to light.

ADHD occurs in people of all intellectual levels. It is not due to a lack of intelligence or willpower. However, the symptoms can lead to struggles in school, work, and relationships if not properly managed.

ADHD Medications and Treatments

Although not curable, ADHD is highly treatable. The most common and effective treatments include:


Stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are the first-line pharmacological treatments for ADHD. These stimulate the brain and improve concentration, focus, and impulse control in about 80% of people.

Non-stimulants like Strattera and Intuniv are also used, especially if stimulants cause side effects or are less effective. These can take longer to start working but also improve symptoms.

Behavior and Psychotherapy

Behavioral therapy provides strategies to organize, focus, control impulses, and manage time. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change negative thought and behavior patterns. Coaching can also help with everyday challenges.

Some other therapies like social skills training, support groups, and family therapy may be beneficial. Creating structure through routines, schedules, reminders and other organizational systems is also very important.

Lifestyle and Home Modifications

Exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet can minimize ADHD symptoms. Making adjustments at home and work like decluttering, noise-reduction, and dividing large assignments into smaller tasks can also help.

Medications and therapy should be tailored to the individual. Often a combination of treatments leads to the best outcomes.

How ADHD Affects Parenting

While being an effective parent is possible with ADHD, it can present some unique challenges:

Staying Organized

Caring for kids requires juggling schedules, managing supplies, paperwork, appointments, and other responsibilities. ADHD can make organization difficult.

Providing Consistency

Children thrive on routine. But sticking to schedules and habits can be hard when you have ADHD.

Focusing Attention

Kids need time, attention, encouragement and listening from parents. ADHD causes attention difficulties, distractibility, and trouble remembering details about your child’s life.

Controlling Emotions

Parenting is stressful. Emotional outbursts and impatience can happen more easily for those with ADHD.

Thinking Ahead

Parenting requires planning and anticipating needs. Impulsiveness, procrastination, and poor forethought associated with ADHD makes this hard.

Despite these challenges, those with ADHD can absolutely succeed as parents. It simply requires making adaptations, getting support, and utilizing effective parenting strategies.

Tips for Parenting with ADHD

If you have ADHD, the following tips can help you manage the areas that require extra attention and effort:

Get Structured

Use calendars, reminders, lists, and notes to stay organized. Have set routines and schedules. Clarify family rules and expectations. Consistency is key.

Make Tasks Easy

Break big jobs into smaller steps. Get ready the night before. Reduce clutter and distractions. Take childcare duties one day at a time.

Find Focus Time

Set aside planned one-on-one time to connect with each child without distractions. Have them communicate needs clearly. Close your eyes and practice active listening.

Add Positivity

Compliment good behavior more than criticizing. Use rewards, encouragement, and affection. Have family fun time. Laugh together.

Manage Frustration

Count to 10 before reacting. Use calming techniques. Apologize after outbursts. Explain you have ADHD but are working on it.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to recruit a co-parent, family members, babysitters, and professionals to get the support you need. Taking care of yourself is vital.

Adjust Expectations

Let go of perfectionism. Household messes or missed activities will happen sometimes. Focus on progress, not perfection. Do your best and celebrate small victories.

Use Reminders

Post notes, set phone alerts, create checklists, and leave objects in your path to remind you of tasks and appointments. Habit-forming takes time.

Add Structure

Follow set schedules, routines, and rules. Consistency is reassuring for kids. Make a plan for handling homework time. Have organized spaces for kids’ supplies.

Educate Your Child

Teach kids about ADHD and how it affects you. Tell them how you work to manage it. Help them understand when you become overwhelmed or irritable.

Model Organization

Show kids how to use organizational systems, follow routines, break down big tasks, and ask for help when needed. Your good habits will rub off.

Stay Calm

Manage stress through exercise, meditation, adequate sleep, and time for yourself. This allows you to parent with much more patience and care.

Reframe Your Thinking

Be kind to yourself. Focus on the positive moments, not perfection. Remember your child thinks you’re amazing.

Medicate Effectively

Work closely with your doctor to find the right ADHD medications and dosages. Take them consistently. Communicate openly about side effects.

How ADHD Is Inherited

One concern those with ADHD often have is whether they will pass it on to their children. ADHD does tend to run in families, with a hereditary component.

If one parent has ADHD, there is about a 35% likelihood their child will too. When both parents have it, this risk goes up to over 50%. Some studies show 20% to 50% of children with ADHD have a parent with it as well.

The exact inheritability is not fully understood. But ADHD involves many genes that get passed down. Environmental factors also play a role in whether those genes then get expressed as ADHD.

ADHD symptoms can emerge as early as age 3 or 4. But they more commonly appear around ages 5 to 7 as school demands increase. Some inherit mainly inattentiveness while others inherit hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Symptom severity can also vary widely.

Knowing you may pass ADHD traits on to children can be concerning. But it allows you to watch for signs, seek treatment early, and implement supportive strategies right away. Many parents find that dealing with their own ADHD is great preparation for managing it in their kids.

Should People with ADHD Have Children?

There is no reason those with ADHD cannot become loving, capable parents. While extra work and adaptation is required, the rewards are well worth it. With the right treatment and support, parents with ADHD raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children every day.

Some benefits of having kids with ADHD include:

  • It forces you to get organized and consistent.
  • Kids keep you active, engaged, and attentive.
  • You empathize easily with their struggles.
  • Your creativity and spontaneity makes life more fun.
  • You experience deep joy in watching them develop.
  • You model strength, resilience, and perseverance.

The choice to have children is highly personal. But ADHD status should not be the deciding factor. With effort and support, you can absolutely be the parent you want to be and thrive!

Preparing for Parenthood with ADHD

If you have ADHD and are considering becoming a parent, some important steps can set you up for success:

Get ADHD Symptoms Under Control

Work closely with your doctor to find the optimal treatment plan for you. Take medications as prescribed. Make lifestyle changes. Create structures and routines that really work. Enter parenthood with your ADHD as well-managed as possible.

Build Your Support System

Enlist help from your spouse, family members, friends, neighbors, and professionals. Having an extended “village” allows you to take breaks, share duties, and get advice.

Learn Effective Parenting Strategies

Read books and take classes on positive discipline, communication, and developing healthy habits in kids. Tailor approaches to your strengths and weaknesses.

Address Relationship Issues

Kids add stress to partnerships. Get counseling if needed to strengthen communication, empathy, teamwork, and conflict resolution with your co-parent.

Improve Financial Planning

Budget for baby expenses. Pay off debts. Start saving. Get life and disability insurance. Increase financial order before increasing your family.

Prepare Your Space

Declutter and organize your home. Baby-proof thoroughly. Set up efficient systems for days with kids like posting schedules and designating activity spaces.

Adjust Expectations

Let go of rigid standards. Accept that mess, noise, chaos, and imperfection are part of parenting. Your best is good enough. Laugh and take one day at a time.

Practice Self-Care

Focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and me-time before baby arrives. Make your physical and mental well-being a priority so you can care for your little ones.

Proper planning and support allows those with ADHD to manage the challenges and revel in the joys of parenthood.


ADHD comes with unique obstacles around organization, concentration, controlling emotions, planning, and managing the many responsibilities of parenthood. But it does not limit one’s ability to be a great parent.

With the right treatments, parenting techniques, and support systems, those with ADHD can absolutely raise happy, healthy children. While extra adaptation is required, the rewards outweigh the effort.

If you have ADHD and want kids, take steps to optimize self-care and household functioning before becoming a parent. Build a village of help. Adjust unrealistic standards. Develop parenting strategies that cater to your strengths. And give yourself credit for the hard work and profound love that goes into raising a child.