“I Have ADHD, Mom… and So Do You!”

ADHD parents tend to have ADHD kids, though many mothers and fathers only recognize their symptoms after participating in their child’s evaluation. Here, parents share their stories of realization, and how sharing ADHD has impacted their family relationships and dynamics.

ADHD — like height, eye color, and musical talent — is largely genetic. What this means: In many families, both parent and child share emotional dysregulation, distractibility, and weak social skills. For obvious reasons, life and parenting are more complicated when ADHD runs in the family. But they also can be more colorful, more supportive, and more rewarding when parents and kids share not only a diagnosis, but coping skills as well.

In a recent ADDitude reader survey, we asked parents: “Did you recognize ADHD symptoms in yourself (and possibly receive a diagnosis) only after your child was diagnosed? Describe the moment you realized that you and your child shared the same struggles. What do you vow to do differently for your child?” Here are some of our favorite responses; share your experiences in the Comments section below.

ADHD Parents and Kids

Pursuing an ADHD diagnosis for my daughter was absolutely what made me realize that my life-long struggles with sustained attention and rejection sensitivity weren’t just character deficits! Now we work together to come up with systems and rituals that work for us (music for a kitchen-cleaning dopamine boost, bins for clothes instead of dressers to keep the floors clear, body doubling for homework/expense reports) and we give ourselves a lot of grace and kindness.” – Anonymous

“I watched my son struggle at school until he finally received a diagnosis at age 18. That’s when the penny dropped for me. I had started 7 university degrees but never finished any of them. I was intensely curious and able to hyperfocus on courses that interested me, but a terrible procrastinator for subjects I felt were uninteresting. Medication is helping me finally get back on track. Unfortunately, they haven’t been as helpful for my son. It’s painful to watch him self-destruct in the same way I did at his age.” – Anonymous

“I was actually in the meeting with my child’s psychologist reviewing my child’s test results when the psychologist asked me a question and I realized I had totally tuned him out and had no idea what he asked me. That was the moment when I knew I probably had ADHD, too. I struggled so much growing up and didn’t understand why, so I want my kids to know how their brains work and how to optimize them. I never want them to feel ashamed for their ADHD differences.” – Barbra

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“My child and I would escalate each other’s behavior. I was a grown woman yelling and crying like the child with whom I was engaging! Once I reflected on my childhood, I noticed striking similarities to my son’s struggles. My emotional dysregulation needed to be treated so that I could support him the way he needs and deserves.” – Anonymous

“I was pressured by the elementary school to have my daughter tested for ADHD when she was in 3rd grade. When I was filling out the questionnaire, I recognized so many symptoms. I sent the same questionnaire to my mother, who told me they knew about it when I was a child and decided they could help me themselves. I vowed to advocate for my daughter and find her the right support for school and home. She is now a mother of her own ADHD daughter and is able to use her experiences to her advantage.” – Lynda

“When I was 54, my 25-year-old son called me and said, “I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, Mom…and you have it, too!” He’d been reading the books on ADHD suggested by his neurologist. He sent me the list and I’ve been helped so much by this reading – it has explained everything about my last 50 years of behaviors! It’s allowed me to let go of guilt and remorse.” – Anonymous

“I am currently in that moment of realizing that I also have ADHD. So much makes sense now when I hear my daughter describe how she’s feeling. I am so thankful that I listened to my daughter when she told me she thought she had ADHD; I never knew we had so many shared experiences because neither of us had words for it! I vow to advocate for her and help her learn to advocate for herself as I do the same.” – Melissa

[Do I Have ADHD? Take This Test]

“When my son was diagnosed, it explained why we both take a while to complete tasks, get distracted easily, and require a lot of effort to focus. Thinking back to when I was at school, I struggled with the same emotions and behaviors that currently plague my son. Our shared experiences make it easier to talk about the hard emotions.”  – Anonymous

“I got diagnosed first. I’m the hyperactive type with a loud personality and my daughter is reserved with inattentive symptoms. We have such different personalities and I was initially surprised when she got her diagnosis, but now I see many similarities in the way our symptoms manifest, especially in initiating tasks.” – Renee

“After my son was diagnosed, I was able to understand the negative and ignorant feedback from his teachers and remembered that I used to get the same feedback when I was in school.” – Anonymous

“I was diagnosed in 2020, and my 3- and 5-year old are still too young to receive a solid diagnosis. However, I have noticed so many of the things I struggle with in them. I’m trying to use the opportunity to teach them coping skills, as well as reinforce those coping skills for myself.” – Patrick

“It was during a session with my child’s psychiatrist where he asked me if I had ever been tested for ADHD. At first, I was insulted, but then I started thinking about how my daydreaming would get in the way of focusing at school and then work. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD and felt so frustrated that I wasn’t medicated earlier in life. It helps me explain to my children why it’s important that they take their medication so that they don’t struggle in the same way I do.”– Anonymous

“While my child was in a therapy session for ADHD, I discovered ADDitude magazine in the waiting room. I diagnosed myself with ADD within 30 minutes. I am dedicated to supplying my daughter with information and tools to help prevent the anxieties I have lived with all my life.” – Anonymous

“My daughter was diagnosed 8 years ago at age 14. Even though her therapist said she thought I also had ADHD, I insisted there was no way because I had done well in school and I wasn’t hyperactive physically. It wasn’t until my 3rd year of law school when I was 51 that I was able to recognize the symptoms.” – Christina

“My husband and I have not been diagnosed but are certain we have ADHD – all 3 of our children have been formally diagnosed. We see our kids struggling to remember assignments, organize their time, and make good grades. We see them stressed, explosive, and insecure. In our house, we discuss it, name it and act on it. We tell them stories about the same issues we had at their age. I do the research and communicate with psychiatrists, teachers, and school counselors. We try to give them room to forget assignments and fail tests, and afterward discuss what we can do to improve. We explain to them that every human being has a different chemical makeup.” – Anonymous

ADHD Parents and Kids: Next Steps

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