Psychological Services

How ADD Affects the Entire Family

ADD affects the family primarily in the form of arguments about the following:

  • Homework time
  • Miscommunication resulting in missed appointments
  • Household tasks not being completed
  • Finances negatively affected by non-task completion
  • Time management

Homework time that stretches from the afternoon until bedtime quickly becomes detrimental to the family system. There is no time to enjoy each other’s company as homework hangs over both parent and child. Uninvolved siblings feel left out and unattended to. The parent feels overwhelmed, helpless and frustrated most of the time. Things really escalate when the child does not turn in their homework or somehow loses it following a frustrating night.

Miscommunication is extremely frustrating for couples, less for parent-child relationships due to the parent’s tendency to forgive their child easier than they will their spouse. Appointments missed, birthdays forgotten, spouses kept waiting at restaurants due to poor communication begin to create holes in the marriage that threaten to become too big to ever repair. Continual conversations that result in a frustrating “stand-off” whereby parties adamantly maintain that they never received the information or were not “told” of the appointment; deepen these holes.

Household tasks not completed. The spouse who picks up after everyone either at night or in the morning grumbling during this activity, eventually accumulates a lot of angry feelings that become difficult to dissipate. The job list that remains untouched or is somehow lost is seen as narcissistic injury, wounds that don’t heal due to the perception that the person does not care enough to keep their promises. One spouse feels alone, over-burdened, uncared for, while the other feels guilty and bad about their self, laboring under the perception that they can never please their partner.

Finances negatively affected by uncompleted tasks. The expense report that is not turned in for months while charges accumulate on personal accounts is certainly a problem waiting to erupt. If passed over for a promotion based upon poor work habits, this becomes a definite detriment to the marriage and often results in a loss of esteem for both parties. Items not returned, rebates not sent in all mount up as small items becoming big issues of irresponsibility making one spouse feel responsible for the other. At times this can result in one partner becoming more compulsive while the other spouse gets locked in feelings of inadequacy and acquiesces; becomes more delinquent. If the gap becomes too large it is difficult to mend fences and fix the situation.

Time Management. Issues of time management become most problematic when other members are affected. The child or parent is late due to poor time management and someone is kept waiting. Apologies accepted at first seem inadequate later on to abate the resentment and feelings of unimportance. No one understands the ADD person’s perspective, their continual struggle with time, their own frustration with themselves. Instead “being late” is seen as not caring, remaining unconcerned about the impact felt by those around them, thoughts that create distance between family members. The ADD person is wounded that family members do not understand their pain and agony as family members remain ensconced in thoughts that the ADD person does not care about them enough to manage their time accordingly.

To summarize:

Although subtle and singularly not major issues, there are so many little things that build into mountains that become too big to resolve resulting in a family split. Love is not sufficient to last the duration of the ADD symptom war unless couples work hard to manage these issues before they get out of control.

Suggestions for household management that have been helpful are as follows:

  • Family meetings every week for a minimum of one hour and maintenance of these meetings even when “things appear to be fine”.
  • Homework time assigned to the children.
  • Paperwork time assigned to the parents.
  • Household pickup time assigned daily to the entire family.
  • Household cleaning chores assigned weekly and rotated for each family member. It is great to clean together to uplifting music promoting family solidarity.
  • Designated family fun times, individual trips with parents.