Living with Someone With ADHD: Parenting Strategies for Thriving in ADHD in Relationships

Living with Someone With ADHD Parenting Strategies for Thriving in ADHD in Relationships
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can bring turbulence to relationships, especially within a family setting. From parents struggling to connect with an ADHD child to partners grappling with daily challenges, ADHD impacts all family members. Whether you are a neurodivergent parent or not, living with someone with ADHD can impact the child, parent and couples relationship. ADHD in relationships is something that isn't discussed enough and ADHD can take a toll on the whole family ecosystem.

In my clinical work, I can see that when family's strive for acceptance and understanding, strong communication, balanced responsibilities, and a healthy lifestyle, children and teens can thrive. When a family embraces the neurodivergent mind with its many gifts and learns to not personalize ADHD behaviors, some amazing things can happen.

Recently one of my bright, ADHD kiddos who was raised with such accepting parents who helped Matthew dig deep into his love of history, just got into Cambridge University. Without their love and patience (and boy did he need it at times!), Matthew wouldn't have learned to truly love himself enough to push himself.

Parenting with ADHD: Challenges and Strategies

Parenting in itself is no small feat, but when you add adult ADHD into the equation, the complexity multiplies. Parents with ADHD face heightened challenges in managing responsibilities, making consistency in parenting a tough task.

Establishing a structured, empathetic, and consistent home environment can help parents with ADHD support their child and improve the challenges of living with someone with ADHD.

Navigating Parent-Child Dynamics

The parent-child dynamic is an ever-evolving relationship, one that can be particularly challenging when ADHD is present. Ensuring consistency in parenting and managing frustration becomes paramount, as mood swings associated with ADHD can add another layer to the complexity of parenting.

Establishing clear expectations and a system of rewards and consequences can encourage positive behavior and provide a sense of stability for the child.

Supporting Your Child with ADHD

The support for a child with ADHD goes beyond behavioral management and includes the incorporation of healthy lifestyle habits. Participation in regular physical activities, ensuring adequate sleep, adding supplements such as magnesium and maintaining a balanced diet are foundational elements that support a child with ADHD. These practices contribute to mitigating symptoms and fostering an environment where the child can thrive.

Challenges vs. Strategies in ADHD Parenting

The Impact of ADHD Parenting and Marriage

The dance of relationships is intricate, requiring synchronized steps of understanding and patience. But when one has ADHD the rhythm can falter. ADHD symptoms, such as distractibility, impulsivity, and disorganization, can kindle a firestorm of emotions, from anger and frustration to hurt feelings.

The dynamic within the home becomes a delicate balance, as ADHD affects not only the person with the condition but also their partner and children. In this dance, the partner (whether a non-ADHD partner or not) takes on a crucial role in maintaining calm and understanding.

Managing symptoms isn’t the only concern; we must also steer through the emotional undercurrents shaping the family narrative, especially when one partner has ADHD and may actually be less tolerant of the child's struggle. Sometimes, the ADHD parent may feel, “I did okay, so should they.” Today, the curriculum is much more superficial, which makes it harder for our ADHD kiddos to do well. The “tough it out” attitude isn't realistic with the kind of academic expectations all kids face today.

Inattention in Family Relationships

Inattention can be a silent saboteur in family relationships. The distracted mind of a person with ADHD might miss the important details that spell love and care, leading to misunderstandings and a sense of irritation. Constant reminders really can erode the partner relationship too, as disagreements arise over how to manage the behaviors.

Trust and mutual respect, the bedrock of healthy adult relationships, including romantic relationships, can be undermined by forgetfulness, incomplete tasks, and constant interrupting.

Impulsive Behavior

Impulsivity is the wildcard in the deck of ADHD symptoms. It can manifest as reckless behavior, spontaneous decisions with far-reaching consequences, or words that escape without a filter, leaving hurt feelings in their wake. Such behaviors can be a strain and leave one wondering just how to improve communication.

Emotional Dysregulation

Imagine emotions as a symphony, with each note contributing to a harmonious whole. Now, picture the dissonance when emotions are dysregulated, a common part in the lives of people with ADHD. Mood swings, anxiety, and the inability to discuss issues calmly can disrupt the household and strain relationships, leading to a tense atmosphere where everyone treads lightly to avoid an emotional eruption,

For the sake of the entire family and for fostering a more compassionate environment, focusing on nonverbal cues, it’s vital to recognize and manage such difficulties, not just for the individual with ADHD but to help everyone not to feel overwhelmed.

Strategies for Managing ADHD Symptoms in Family Relationships

To navigate the waters of ADHD in family relationships, a captain who is both knowledgeable and resourceful is required. Understanding the effects of ADHD symptoms is the compass that guides the family ship towards calmer seas.

With the right strategies in place, families can learn to manage these symptoms, creating an environment where structure, communication, and balanced responsibilities become the pillars of a healthier relationship dynamic.

Creating Structure and Routine

The unpredictability of ADHD can often leave families feeling as if they’re at the mercy of a storm. However, establishing a consistent routine can be the anchor they need. Scheduling meals, exercise, and sleep provides a framework for daily life, while organizational tools and visual cues like calendars can support an ADHD partner in staying on track with responsibilities.

Developing Healthy Communication Skills

Communication is the lifeline that connects the islands of individual experiences within a family. For an ADHD relationship, maintaining a clear and focused dialogue is essential. The use of ‘I’ statements, solution-oriented approaches, and face-to-face interactions help ensure that messages are not lost in translation and reduce the strain relationships.

For individuals with ADHD, it’s particularly vital to pause and consider their words, aim for consistency in conversation topics, and stay conscious of their symptoms. Achieving an intense focus on these aspects can greatly improve their communication skills.

Balancing Responsibilities and Expectations

In the give-and-take of relationships, balancing responsibilities and expectations is key, particularly when ADHD is in the equation. Here are some strategies to help:

  • Create a clear visual schedule of household chores
  • Have a mutual understanding of each partner’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Communicate openly and regularly about tasks and responsibilities
  • Break tasks down into smaller, manageable steps
  • Celebrate and acknowledge each other’s accomplishments

By implementing these strategies, you can improve task completion and empower both partners in the relationship.

Improving parent child relationship dynamics demands the acceptance of the child’s strengths and weaknesses and the separation of the individual from their symptoms. Trust me, kids aren't doing this on purpose (even though EVERY parent asks me this!). No child wants to be impulsive or distracted… it is how they are wired… but there are methods to help the brain self regulate.

Supporting Your ADHD Child

Supporting Your ADHD Child

Parenting is a journey, more so when your child has ADHD. It is a path paved with patience, encouragement, and understanding of their unique challenges. When a non-ADHD parent grasps that ADHD behaviors are not a personal choice but part of the condition, the door to a more equal and resentment-free relationship swings open.

More than just love is required to support an ADHD child; a mix of respect for their independence and a need for emotional support is necessary.

Encouraging Treatment and Self-Care

Seeking professional support, such as family therapy, and exploring treatment options can be transformative for an ADHD family. Family therapy not only lightens the load on the ADHD parent but also offers coping strategies that can boost the relationship with the non ADHD spouse.

A healthy lifestyle, incorporating a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise, can also play a pivotal role in stabilizing mood swings and reducing stress for both the individual with ADHD and their family members, ultimately promoting a calm brain and better mental health.

Practicing Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is the bridge that connects the world of ADHD with the world of the non-ADHD parent. By educating themselves about how ADHD functions in the brain, parents can better understand the actions of their ADHD partner and improve the parenting dynamic.

Recognizing and valuing the positive aspects of ADHD, like quick decision-making and boundless energy, can create a greater appreciation for the unique qualities of the condition, even in cases of undiagnosed ADHD or untreated ADHD.

Building a Stronger Connection with Your ADHD Child

The bond between a parent and child is sacred, and nurturing this connection is vital, especially when ADHD is involved. It requires a conscious effort to focus on quality time and celebrate the positive traits of ADHD, which can sometimes be overshadowed by the challenges.

Leveraging the child’s natural qualities to foster mutual understanding and appreciation is where to start.

Focusing on Quality Time

Time is a finite resource, and how we choose to spend it with our loved ones can have a lasting impact. Designating regular periods for shared activities and prioritizing conflicts effectively can significantly strengthen the parent-child connection.

Families can forge robust, resilient relationships that withstand the tests of ADHD by engaging in enjoyable, common interests. I find that families often forget to “have fun” and a little bit of joy goes a long way. So stop and sing, dance and play Legos.

Celebrating the Positive Aspects of ADHD

Too often, the narrative surrounding ADHD focuses on the challenges, but there is a wealth of positive qualities to celebrate. Some of these positive qualities include:

  • Hyperfocus, which allows individuals with ADHD to delve deeply into their interests
  • Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking
  • High energy levels and enthusiasm
  • Ability to multitask and think quickly
  • Strong intuition and empathy

These positive qualities can be channeled into various aspects of life, including relationships, work, and personal growth. It’s important to recognize and celebrate these strengths alongside the challenges of ADHD.

Creative thinking and high energy are inherent gifts that, when acknowledged and embraced, can bring a vibrant energy to the family dynamic.

While the journey may present its challenges, I've developed an extensive set of resources for parents. Natural ADHD Focus Formula Kit is specifically designed to provide clear information and practical next steps for parents like you.

ADHD Positive Traits and Utilization


It’s clear that ADHD in relationships is a multifaceted challenge that requires patience, understanding, and a proactive approach. You can't “wish ADHD away” nor should you because the neurodivergent ADHD has assets that should be celebrated.

From managing inattention and impulsivity to fostering emotional regulation and communication, the strategies discussed here provide a roadmap for families to navigate the ADHD landscape together. Embrace the strategies, lean into the support systems, and above all, celebrate the journey—because within the whirlwind of ADHD lies the potential for growth, connection, and a unique vibrancy in relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • ADHD in relationships can lead to challenges such as inattention, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation, affecting trust, respect, and tranquility within the family dynamic.
  • Implementing strategies such as creating structure and routine, making lifestyle changes, developing healthy communication skills, and balancing responsibilities helps manage ADHD symptoms in family relationships, leading to a more harmonious household.
  • Supporting an ADHD child requires a mix of professional treatment, lifestyle adjustments, empathy, and a focus on the child’s unique strengths, as well as consistent, empathetic parenting practices for parents with ADHD.

How can I help my partner with ADHD feel more valued in our relationship?

To help your partner with ADHD feel more valued in your relationship, encourage open communication, establish routines that make use of their strengths, and focus on spending quality time together to show appreciation and support. These efforts can strengthen your bond and make your partner feel more valued in the relationship.

What are some effective ways to manage impulsive behavior in a family member with ADHD?

Recognizing triggers, setting clear boundaries, and pausing before acting can help manage impulsive behaviors in a family member with ADHD. It's important to establish a structured and supportive environment for them to thrive.

How can we balance responsibilities at home when one partner has ADHD?

To balance responsibilities at home when one partner has ADHD, create a clear visual schedule of chores, be flexible with roles based on each partner's strengths, and maintain open communication to ensure a fair distribution of tasks. This will help create a balanced and supportive environment at home.

How can I support my ADHD child's emotional development?

You can support your ADHD child's emotional development by encouraging them to express their feelings, providing a stable and structured environment, and practicing empathy and understanding when they face emotional challenges. This will help them thrive emotionally.

What lifestyle changes can improve symptoms of ADHD in children?

Making changes to your child's diet, ensuring they get enough sleep, encouraging regular physical activity, and maintaining consistent routines can make a significant difference in managing ADHD symptoms in children. These lifestyle changes can greatly impact their well-being.

How can I learn more about what you do?

Listen to my podcast for the parent strategies and resources for the entire family. Start by listening to my ADHD series.

Dr. Roseann is a mental health expert in ADHD who is frequently in the media:


Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

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She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

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