Parents often find the hyperactive and impulsive behaviour of children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) extremely challenging and stressful. Their behaviour towards their children is often characterized by high levels of coerciveness and negativity leading to a vicious circle of bad behaviour, leading to bad parenting which in turn leads to more bad behaviour. It is, therefore, important, to look into the factors affecting how parents respond to their children's ADHD. One such factor might be the presence of ADHD in parents as well as their children. Family studies of children with ADHD have found that 15-20% of mothers and 20-30% of fathers have ADHD which is now increasingly recognised as persisting into adulthood. Studies have suggested that parental ADHD is likely to reduce the quality of parenting and increase the risk of negative and chaotic parenting leading to a parenting style characterized by inconsistency, reactivity and a lack of self-reflectiveness. Two studies of mothers and children in Hampshire found that child ADHD symptoms were associated with negative maternal comments while maternal ADHD symptoms were associated with negative expressed emotions. However, in both studies maternal ADHD symptoms appeared to ameliorate the effects of child ADHD symptoms on negative parenting and parental response to children with high ADHD symptoms was more positive and affectionate when the mother also had high ADHD symptoms. The researchers thought this might be because there was a better 'fit' between the child's behaviour and the parents or, that having suffered with ADHD themselves the parents were more sympathetic to the children.
Psychogiou, Lamprini ... [et al] - Do maternal attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms exacerbate or ameliorate the negative effect of child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms on parenting? Development and psychopathology 2008, 20, 121-137