Ask the Experts

Q: Should We Hold Our Son to the Same Standards as His Neurotypical Cousins?

Should a parent’s expectations for a child with ADHD differ from his or her expectations for a neurotypical sibling or cousin? Yes, and no. Here, learn how to navigate family gatherings where comparisons are made too swiftly and too frequently, and also set up your child for success in challenging situations and in life.

Ask your question about ADHD in boys here!

Q: “In family situations, my husband always tries to make our son with ADHD do what all of his cousins do (none of whom have ADHD). For example, if there is a family photo or family activity, he expects our son to behave like the other children. His argument is that this will help him fit in better and he can’t always opt out of things he doesn’t want to do. He sometimes gets frustrated with him in front of others and then my son feels bad as he has disappointed his dad. My argument is that we shouldn’t expect him to be like the other children and we should be teaching them so they change their expectations. I’d rather he felt he was supported and accepted as he is and we picked carefully the tasks or activities we made sure he completed. Please help us as this causes quite a lot of family arguments.”

A: “Your husband has a good point that your son cannot always get out of non-preferred tasks, because learning how to tolerate boredom and develop the resiliency to get through non-preferred tasks is part of life. To your point, I don’t think it’s OK to call out your son’s behavior or criticize him in front of his siblings or cousins. Instead, I suggest that you ‘preview’ expectations with your son by doing this…”


Expectations in ADHD Families: Next Steps

1. Read This: Parenting the Child Whose Sibling Has ADHD
2. Read This: “A Letter to My Child Without ADHD”
3. Read This: Caught In the Middle: Parenting Tips for a Neurodiverse Family

Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel.

Submit your questions about ADHD in boys here!