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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 Support

  1. 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 your help.

  2. 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 matters.

  3. 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 any relationship.

  4. 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."

  5. 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 and behaviors.

  6. 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.,,

  7. 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.

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Voices from Fatherhood

Voices from Fatherhood

Patricia Quinn & Patrick Kilcarr

216 pages; $23.95

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