You Should Feel Guilty Over Your Child's ADHD


My childhood mindset perfectly captured
A new British study shows that ADHD could be genetic -- "less than height but more than schizophrenia," says Katherine Ellison of the LA Times, who celebrated the news at first:

"I'm off the hook!" it's so tempting to think, when hearing this kind of news. Yes, my chromosomes may be to blame, but at least I wouldn't have to keep kicking myself over the possible ramifications of that fall from the swing set when my child was a toddler, or how much pesticide residue he's accumulated in his short time on Earth, or whether my own distractedness has deprived him of the consistency and structure he so obviously needs.

She follows the hand wringing over her child's toddler years, which we've all done, with a casually presented fact that I find the most striking about the whole thing. She says ADHD "conservatively affects at least 4.5 million American children and 9 million adults."

Really? Twice as many adults as children? Is this well known? The adults are going to have to claim the original title for themselves, and start referring to the kid version as Child ADHD.

You have to assume that adults just have had a lot more time to be diagnosed. The alternative is that it emerges late in life, which I find hard to believe.

Like Ellison says about herself, I've had all kinds of ADHD symptoms my entire life, we just didn't call it that until very recently. As a kid we just talked about my absent mind and unique talent for staring at walls. It wasn't common at the time anyway, but I'm kind of glad I didn't get a diagnosis and hop on the treatment train. I did fine in school -- I was just a B+ student who should have been an A+ student. Of course now if I mention ADD to anyone who's known me for even two minutes, the response is: "Well, yeah." Apparently I'm as easy to diagnose as an amputee.

But unlike Ellison, I didn't appear to pass it on. My daughter has probably finished more chapter books in first grade than I did in all of grade school. Though she does have some well-developed wall-staring talent. I'm in there somewhere.

And while Ellison is talking about ADHD, she could be talking about depression, obesity, ADHD and obesity, or any spot on the entire autism spectrum, where genes and experience get all mixed up.

She's right in the end to dismiss the question of genes and guilt, with the line "nothing lets parents off the hook."

The truth is, while it may feel like your fault if you somehow did something to contribute to your child's condition, if it's genetic, then it's really your fault. You didn't contribute to it, you totally gave it to them. When you come across some frustrating quality in your child, and you know it came straight from your DNA, does that not make it all the more frustrating? "Great," I've thought to myself many times. "Going to be dealing with that for another three decades, just like the last three."

So if we're always on the hook, let's just learn to love the hook. It's part of the game.


Image via Flickr/SamHsu

toddler health


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CLsmo... CLsmom135

I wanted to first let you know that the post here is a little offensive. It is almost like you want people to get upset with the title of it. But that is not really why I am writing a comment. I am not an expert in statistics, but I believe there is a basic flaw in your arguments about ADHD being diagnosed more in adults than children. In any population anywhere there are far more adults than children. If there were the same number of adults as there were children in the population your argument would make sense. Since the average age when people die is somewhere in the mid 70's and children become adults somewhere between the time they are 18 and 21 it would make total sense that there are far more adults with ADHD/ADD then children. That does not mean that there is not a rise in the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD, because I believe ther is.

Lori Appel

I agree, this post was completely offensive.  The title? obviously, but your little digs about getting on the "treatment train"??  WTH?  Not sure if you're just trying to be humorous or what your point was at all.

Cryst... Crystal8327

Ha nonsense articile. The stir is starting to become a trash magazine lately.

Angelica Bowman

I would have gotten upset if I didn't realize that the end turns out to be ironic. You might be on the hook for ADHD in your kid, but that's no reason to feel guilty about it.

I wish my ADHD had been treated while I was in school. I might have actually been a B student instead of C and actually been treated like the gifted kid I was. Unbelievably brilliant, tested in the top percentile of all the tests, but couldn't do homework to save my life. Pity.

tazdvl tazdvl

I don't believe it is something you grow in to, I think these adults had it as a child and just were never tested.....if you can call it that.....and are finding out as adults that they have it. I'm sure any parent would feel guilty for giving their child something but the alternative would be to not have kids.

ethan... ethans_momma06

Eh. Genetics still don't really make it YOUR fault. After all the reason that you have those genetics to pass on are someone elses to begin with.

Parag Shah

People with ADHD have normal human characteristics to an extreme degree, with a poor ability to easily control them.
ADHD in adults

nonmember avatar melissa

WOW ladie your are crazy! Under your concept I must also be responsible for my daughters life threatening heart defect and my son's ADHD; am I also at fault for the developmental delays. Straight up mean is what you are. I have spent hours crying for the conditions that both my children have and the guilt is enormous. So thank you for giving me another lump of personal pain in my throat and the need to push back the tears that's just great! I hope I never have to meet you or anyone like you because my life is hard enough without your two cents

Colleen Docherty

this person is ignorant. period.

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