Voices from Fatherhood - A father's role in the life of
a boy with ADD (ADHD)
Patrick J. Kilcarr, Ph.D. and Patricia Quinn, M.D.
The role of fathers has been sorely under-represented in
the literature and research on boys who live with ADHD. Our
impressions from extensive interviews with fathers are that
a father's participation in the life of a child with ADHD
has often been part of the background landscape. Mothers have
been very vocal in helping us understand the manifestation
of ADHD in a boy's life. Fathers however, until recently have
lived with the experience of parenting these children without
having their voices heard.
Father's have different, valuable insights into their
sons with ADD (ADHD)
In talking with fathers about their experiences, they have
expressed amazing insight into what type of interaction either
helps or hinders the emotional, social, and behavioral success
of their sons who have A.DHD. There are specific ways that
fathers can interact with these children to maximize their
unique talents and gifts while minimizing the negative impact
of ADHD related behaviors.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that, given the right
type of help and emotionally support, your son can do as well
or better than his peers who do not have ADHD.
Tips for Fathers to Increase Your Son's Success through
As a father, it is critical that you highlight your
caring, concern, and belief in your son. This requires
paying attention to the small stuff and magnifying it
so he feels empowered, i.e., "I really like how you
put the napkins around the dinner table. Thank you for
- Encourage your son to participate in finding solutions
to a problem. (For example, "OK, you want to go
to a friend's birthday party which is happening at the same
time as your practice. What can we do about this?"
This is a way to get your son to "buy-in"
to the solution by making him feel his voice and opinion
When trouble develops, calmly remove your son from
the situation and discuss options and possible solutions.
Highlight the necessity for both give and take in
Admit when you are wrong! This is fundamental
in helping your son understand that we all make mistakes
and what to do about them; for example "I am sorry
for hitting you for your behavior. I became very angry
and lost my temper. I was wrong, and I will try my hardest
to deal with my anger in a better way."
Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate situations that
may be trigger points for problems or transitional
difficulties. Discuss all anticipated aspects of this
prior to the event. If it occurs during an event, be clear
about what consequences will be assigned to specific attitudes
Keep consequences simple and appropriate. Putting
your son in his room for half that day because he blurted
out an inappropriate word will aggravate the situation
and make him feel hopeless around redeeming himself. Give
him a parachute whenever possible; for example, "You
need to go to your room for 10 minutes, after that, I
would like to talk about how you can handle your anger
differently next time.,,
Try at all costs to have an agreed upon discipline
plan with your wife or former spouse. Marital discord
is one of the predominant products of ADHD related behavior
when spouses utilize different disciplining strategies.