The Weight of ADHD On Your Marriage

If raising a child with ADHD can strain even the sturdiest marriage, imagine what it does to the rest of us. Follow these seven steps to save your relationship when parenting problems threaten to split it apart.

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Get in Agreement

In another study, Wymbs found that the "hot" topics for arguments—money, sex, balancing home and work life, chores—are the same among all couples who have children. But couples with ADHD children fight more frequently about child-rearing issues than couples whose children don't have ADHD. To minimize such arguments, agree on a ADHD parenting approach that you both endorse. This worked for Sandy and Clayton Snow, from Huntington Beach, California, whose 11-year-old son, Parker, has ADHD. Parker was sent to the principal's office at least twice a week—either for not following rules or for hitting other children. "I'd walk around with a knot in my stomach," says Sandy, "wondering when we'd get the next phone call from school."

The couple handled Parker's problems differently. Sandy became impatient and told her son, "You know better than to behave like that. Why do you do these things?" Clayton took Parker's side: "I'm sorry that happened. It must have been tough sitting in the principal's office for an hour or so."

The Snows got on the same page when they enrolled their son in a behavior modification program—and themselves in parent-training classes.

"The parenting classes taught me that Parker couldn't help his behavior," says Sandy. "We needed to make our expectations clear and to give him a way to succeed, by rewarding good behavior." It worked. "There's peace in our house now," she adds.

"Find parent-training classes that teach parents to work together," says Wymbs. Sandy agrees. "If only one of you goes to the classes, it's like seeing a comedian in person and telling your spouse the jokes when you get home. A lot gets lost in translation. When you go to classes together, you have a better chance of agreeing on one approach."

Next: Give a Little/Get a Little...

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TAGS: ADHD and Marriage

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