ADD Husbands and Their Sons

My husband was diagnosed with ADD about a year ago.  My experiences echo so many posts, but what I want to talk about is how his ADD has affected his relationship with our teenage son, and I want to know if others have had similar experiences.  The idea of posting to this forum came to me when I started searching for sources for teenagers, boys, specifically, who have to deal with ADD dads, specifically.  I found no sources for kids.  All are for parents dealing with ADD kids.  I want to help my son, and I want to help other families, too, before it gets to this point, if possible.  I am a writer, and I have the inkling to start a book.  Here is a quick and shortened summary of what my fourteen-year-old son has experienced:

His dad has never followed through with any promises to do things with him

His dad has never been consistent with rules his son should live by

His dad has lied to his mother and been unfaithful, which caused his son to lose respect for his father, hope in life, and trust in the world

His dad's unfaithfulness caused my husband to lose his good job, which has caused severe financial stress in the home

His dad's deceptive and secretive credit card spending had already been the cause for always having to say "no" to the kids for extras

Due to our lives turning upside down this past year, my son doesn't care about anything and is very depressed

My son has lots of anger toward his dad and it isn't getting better

My son doesn't trust his dad

My son sees no purpose, so wants to escape into video games.  

When my son was younger, he would just handle his dad's absent ways (focused on self, enclosed in his home office, drinking, not doing anything with the kids except for occasional TV) and wish for more

Now that my son is older, what he lost with his dad is to him, and he is mad and sad

When children are young, they take what they can get.  As they get older, they respond.  I wonder how many ADD dads might force themselves to make changes in their habits if they could see the pain and distance that will surface in their sons in the future?  This is where the wives and mothers of ADD husbands who have boys, especially come in (I'm focusing on boys because the father-son bond is different that the father-daughter bond--not stronger, just different.  The dad is their role model, who boys usually want to emulate.  I have two sons and one ADD daughter--that is another story).  I want to get a survey, if you will, of parents who have seen their teenage children respond to their parents (I can broaden it to daughters and moms if people out their have stories to share that can help) in negative ways. We know, as parents of young children, how they are affected.  We see the neglect, inconsistency, anger, etc.  But that isn't what I'm honing in on, though that is the precursor to the teenager.  I'm honing in on the aftermath: the teenager who wakes up and realizes the crap he/she has been dealt, and in some cases, like in my son's, can't cope so well--especially if everything is undone in their worlds.  

Think about it: We know how we feel, as spouses when we have been neglected, mentally played with, lied to, possibly betrayed, financially burdened, etc, etc. The child feels those things, too, and the scars are deep.  The saying, "kids are resilient" irks me.  Yes, they survive, just like we do, but they aren't happy and they may not really live.  And they don't forget.  The sadness is in their bones, just like it is in ours.  

So, does anyone relate?  I have two book ideas.  One would be for teenagers, written for them to help them with their struggles; the other would be called something like, Why ADD Dads Lose Their Sons in hopes the dads would care enough to read it and attempt to make changes before it's too late.

Thank you for listening.

I think your idea to write a

I think your idea to write a book is a good one.  I have daughters and so my thoughts about the topic might be less relevant, given your planned focus for now.  But I'll offer them in case they're true for families in which the fathers with ADHD have sons.

Father losing job and imperiling family's finances:  This has been a big source of stress.

Father not being able to care for mother (me):  I don't know if my daughters have picked up on this but I worry they will think that they won't be able to find reliable guys to date or marry.

Father being disorganized and not reliable with chores and tasks:  My daughters have definitely noticed this.  They come to me for help with almost everything (except computers, chemistry, and calculus).  I worry that they'll think that they, too, have to be able to do everything once they're in relationships.


Hello Hardlife

I am really very sorry that your son and you are going through this as I know all too well what it is like.  This topic pains me the most about ADD and I am really surprised I don't read more people on these blogs discussing the affects that an ADD absent parent has on their children (and also on the non ADD spouse as they are forced to give all the emotional support for the child).  My husband also had an affair on me and I haven't been able to, 2 1/2 years later, fully recover, but seeing my son who is 21 have no father in his life is the most gut wrenching.  My husband does not live in the same state and there are very few calls to his son and when there is communication it usually is through text messages.  I saw the disconnect with my husband for all the years he was in the same house but I never thought he would almost totally abandon being a parent once he left.  My son doesn't really say much about it but as you say it has to affect them.  I have a daughter also and I know my husband being absent in her life has affected her already.  My son also suffers from depression which I believe is mainly due to his ADD but the fact that he has no father in his life will at some point cause him pain.  I have tried my best to tell my husband that it is the parent's responsibility to build a strong relationship and he has chosen to ignore me.  I know we have no control over what others do and all we can do is be there for our child.  It is just so difficult to see, especially for a son to be without his father.  If the fathers realize it later it will be too late and the son will already have missed those very important younger years.  I really hope it gets better for your son.              

Thank You st

Thank you for sharing.  It's hard to watch the pain of a son over his dad.  One thing I learned is to stop excusing the father.  Boys want understanding, at least, not excuses.  I've been taking this approach lately: "I don't blame you for feeling that way one bit."  A much different approach than, "Well, your father..."

Thanks again.

My son has felt the lack of

My son has felt the lack of male role model most keenly as he enters his teenage years. I'm always there as SAHM. While his father (dh) is the sole provider for the family, there is rarely any communication other than DH talking "at" his son, rather than "with" his son. Many many activities that have been promised for years have never materialized (going to major league ball game, going to top of a skyscraper, fishing, camping).

Just this week, we purchased a Furby (an interactive doll that "speaks" to you and it's personality molds to what you say to it). We thought it would help our youngest who is autistic become more interactive (it has!).

Well, every day since we've gotten the Furby, my ADHD dh has gone straight to Furby after work to "bond" with Furby (?!). He bypasses our non-ADHD son in the dining room and goes straight to Furby first and says hello and tries to get it to "wake up" with a kiss. My son is not only frustrated and heartbroken, but I know he's starting to despise his father. If his father can show it to a toy, why can't he show it to his son?

This extreme lack of empathy for his non-ADHD son makes me feel that there is little, to no hope left.

There is hope... I instant

There is hope... I instant messaged my dh at work today, mentioning the incident. I was clear about son's feelings but was not confrontational. The texting and instant messages seems to work better for us than face-to-face communication, so I will take what I can :)

I find out dh felt son always rebuffed his attentions when son was a toddler (this is true, son had sensory issues early on). Son seems to have outgrown it and yearns for his father's hugs. So dh says he will have to "recondition" his brain (yes, he said that!). I think it was a very good communication this morning, even if it was not face-to-face. It was more than I expected, so a good sign.



justme2013's picture

Your story is MY story,

Your story is MY story, almost word for word and it made me cry to read it! I feel my sons pain and don't know what to do. My fifteen year old is fed up and has shut down to his dad completely. In my case, I separated from my h after infidelity and our 15 yr old was saying, good mom.....let him live somewhere else and be this way.....our 5 yr olds were saying mommy wheres daddy, I want daddy to come home.....wiping their tears every night got the best of me and I decided to "work things out" with him. I feel between a rock and a hard place.....obviously being with OR without him hurts the children and my back is against the times I feel I have failed my children.....

I totally understand!

I hope you are all still out there!  My 16 year old is just not asking for his dad's attention as often.  I find him showing me funny things on his smart phone or the computer, instead of waiting to show his dad.  He has started to plop down on my bed and just hang out with me, which is a new thing.  I've tried to explain to my husband that he is losing his chance to be a part of both our kids lives; and quite frankly mine.  After watching the boys ask him to be more active- go for a walk, build something in the garage; then seeing my husband continue to disconnect by watching TV is very hard.  Just two weeks ago, the boys and I planned a summer adventure that includes something both are eager to explore.  The horrible part was that we were filled with excitement while we planned the possible dates, etc and later I realized how easy the 3 of us did that without including him.  I agree with the person who no longer makes excuses for the father.  I too have encouraged both boys to express their feelings to their dad, hoping that this would bring him back.  On a rare occasion, he will do a little something with them.  When he doesn't respond and the kids come back to me; I empathize with them and praise them for using their voice.  About a year ago, I realized that all the long repeated lectures about parenting being teamwork, all of my anger and resentment was only being carried on my back.  I just had to let go.  Little rays of hope have appeared here and there- he decided to try ADD meds and took care of some other health issues.  Overall, have his actions improved by leaps and bounds? Not really.  But... I feel better not always walking around angry.  I laugh more with the kids and yes- we don't wait for him as often as we used to.  I don't know if it is right or wrong, but after all the years of begging, pleading, nagging- I refuse to see my kids sit in this house and not have experiences.  So what if I think airplanes are boring, if my 16 year old has a dream to see a museum filled with them; my new plan is to take my prescribed anti-anxiety med and march my mommy self to the nearest airplane museum with him and watch him have the time of his life.  The same goes for my younger son!  

Bottom line: I'm not sure if it's maturity or exhaustion, either way- I believe that the desire to make a change has to come from within.  No amount of threats, begging, fighting, yelling or ultimatums will bring about a sincere lasting change in your parental partner.  For your own sanity- dump that weight off your back, it is not yours to carry.