Special Issues for Women with ADD (ADHD)
As teenage girls with ADD (ADHD) enter their adult years
the demands on them increase, making their ADD (ADHD) challenging
as they struggle to cope with the demands of managing their
own lives, working, and, for many, struggling to fulfill the
roles of wife and mother. While both men and women with ADD
(ADHD) must face these challenges, the impact of ADD (ADHD)
upon women is sometimes greater due to differences in social
expectations as well as hormonal differences between males
and females. Let's take a look at what some of those issues
are for women with ADD (ADHD).
For a woman with ADD (ADHD) her most painful challenge may
be a struggle with her own overwhelming sense of inadequacy
in fulfilling the roles she feels are expected of her by her
family and by society. Both on the job and at home, women
are often placed in the role of caretakers. While men with
ADD (ADHD) are advised to build a support system around themselves,
not only do few women have access to such a support system,
society had traditionally expected women to be the support
The struggles for women with ADD (ADHD) have been intensified
with the emergence of "dual career couples." During
much of the past two decades more and more women have been
required to not only fulfill most if not all of the more traditional
roles of wife and mother, but also to function efficiently
and tirelessly as they juggle the demands of a full time career.
Divorce rates are close to fifty percent among all marriages
in the United States. Divorce become even more likely when
ADD (ADHD) is added to the list of marital stressors. Following
divorce, it continues to be predominantly the mothers who
are left as primary parent for children. By adding ADD (ADHD)
to the huge burden of single-parenting, the result is often
chronic exhaustion and emotional depletion.
Hormonal fluctuations that commence at puberty continue
to play a strong role the lives of women with ADD (ADHD).
The problems they experience due to ADD (ADHD) are greatly
exacerbated by monthly hormonal fluctuations. Some women report
that the stresses of being the primary parent of children
with ADD (ADHD), while attempting to struggle with their own
ADD (ADHD), reaches crisis proportions on a monthly basis
as they go through their premenstrual phase, which often lasts
as long as a week.
The interaction of hormonal changes and ADD (ADHD) has a
strong impact on women as they enter perimenopause (typically
in their late 30's, when estrogen levels begin to decline)
and at menopause. In fact, women who have been diagnosed and
treated for ADD (ADHD) sometimes report that their stimulant
medication becomes noticeably less effective as they near
Give yourself a break!
Often the biggest struggle is an internal one. Societal
expectations have been deeply ingrained in many women. Even
when a loving husband says, "Don't worry about it,"
they continue to place demands upon themselves. Breaking out
of a mold that doesn't fit can take time and effort. Psychotherapy
with a therapist who really understands your ADD (ADHD) issues
may be enormously helpful to shed impossible expectations
that you may have of yourself.
Educate your partner about ADD (ADHD) and how it affects
Your partner may feel anger and resentment toward an ill-kept
house or badly-behaved children, assuming that you "just
don't care." They need to appreciate the full brunt of
the impact of ADD (ADHD) in your life. Get your partner on
your side, strategizing about ways to make your life at home
more ADD-accommodating, and ADD-friendly.
It's only spilled milk!
Try to create an "ADD-Friendly" environment in
your home. If you can approach your ADD (ADHD), and that of
your children, with acceptance and good humor explosions will
decrease, and you'll save more energy for the positive side
Simplify your life.
You are probably overbooked and chances are your children
are too. Look for ways to reduce commitments so that you're
not always pressed and hurried.
Don't hang around women who can't understand your problems.
So many women describe friends or neighbors who make them
feel terrible by comparison whose houses are immaculate, whose
children are always clean, neat and well-behaved. Don't put
yourself in situations that will send you back toward impossible
expectations and negative comparisons.
Build a support group for yourself.
One woman with ADD (ADHD) related that housework was such
drudgery for her that she often couldn't bring herself to
do it. One of her techniques, however, was to invite a friend,
who shared similar tendencies, to keep her company while she
completed some particularly odious task.
Build in "time-outs" daily.
Time-out's are essential when you have ADD (ADHD) and are
raising children. It's easy to not find time for them, though,
because they require planning. Make them routine so that you
don't have to keep planning and juggling. For example, ask
your partner to commit to two blocks of time on the weekend
when they will take the kids away from the house without you.
Arrange for a regular baby-sitter several times a week.
Don't push yourself into burnout.
One mother of two ADD (ADHD) children, who was doing a great
job of parenting her children, was also able to recognize
her limitations. With two such challenging children she arranged
for summer sleep away camp for a month each summer. She also
arranged for brief visits, one at a time, to grandparents.
This allowed her to spend time with each son without his having
to compete with his brother.
Eliminate and delegate.
Look at things that you require of yourself at home. Can
some of these things be eliminated? Can you hire someone to
help you? Turn over certain tasks or activities to other family
Learn ADD-friendly child-management techniques.
On the outside looking in it may be easy for other parents
to judge you if your children misbehave. But what any parent
of a child with ADD (ADHD) knows is that they don't respond
to the usual admonishments and limits in the same way that
non-ADD (ADHD) kids do.
If you're raising a child with ADD (ADHD), you've got a
super-challenging job. Get the best training you can find.
There are numerous excellent books on behavior management
techniques for children with ADD (ADHD).
Most important, look for a family therapist or parent trainer
who understands how mothers with ADD (ADHD) are impacted.
It's critical that the parenting advice you receive takes
your own ADD (ADHD) into account! Here is another article
on Moms and Kids with ADD (ADHD).
Get help for PMS or Menopausal Symptoms
They are likely to be more severe than in other women. Managing
the destabilizing effect of your hormonal fluctuations is
a critical part of managing your ADD (ADHD).
Focus more on the things you love.
There are many aspects of keeping a house and raising children
which are rewarding and creative. Look for positive experiences
to share with your children.
Look for people who appreciate the best in you.
Your world is probably full of people who are quick to judge
you for your ADD (ADHD) struggles with disorganization and
poor time management. It's important to actively seek out
people who appreciate the best in you and who encourage you
to be your best.
Don't measure your worth using someone else's yardstick!
When you march to the beat of a different drummer, others
may think you're out of step. Don't get caught up in trying
to meet the standards, or live up to the values of women who
are very different from yourself. Instead of over-focusing
on unmade beds and dishes left in the sink, take stock and
celebrate things that matter more to you - such as warmth,
enthusiasm, creativity, humor, sensitivity, and spirit!