Impact of Spouse's ADHD on Our Kids


We're currently participating in the couples seminar.  We're struggling a lot with my husband's undertreated ADHD.  My husband has had difficulty sustaining long term employment due to ADHD behaviors / poor executive skills.  About 5 years ago, when he was out of work, again, we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and try having him homeschool our kids, who were 9 and 2 at the time because private school wasn't an option and we weren't happy with our public school.  We didn't know about the ADHD at the time.  Our eldest has aspergers and some aspects of ADHD (which we also didn't know at the time).  Our youngest has blessedly been neurotypical.

It hasn't been very successful, in a lot of ways.  My husband and my eldest have fought a LOT.   They are unkind to one another.  My eldest needs structure - my ADHD husband abhors it.  My eldest can be quite inflexible and argumentative.  My husband either retreats and refuses to teach him, or blows up at him.  My house has a lot of discord.  My husband doesn't have the skills to plan out a lesson, let alone a week or a year's curriculum. Rather, he prefers to teach what comes to mind, if anything.  This results in my children not getting the kind of education I feel they need.  It has also resulted in considerable extra effort for me as I have tried, more and more, to manage it and to compensate for my spouse.  My husband and I are fighting a lot, too.

We face many ADHD issues in our marriage (messiness, sleep schedules, distractability, reliability, etc, etc) but by far the biggest cause of discord at this point is what I see as the effect of my husband's behavior on our children.  Naturally, he doesn't imagine his behavior impacts them in the way I believe it does.  Additionally, he lacks the skills (he can't show them how to plan out a science project and work on it for a few weeks, no way!) and follow through to make a long term meaningful improvement.  Just today I learned that my youngest, now 6, is treating his playmates badly - speaking to them unkindly in ways that to me appear to mirror what he watches his father and brother do on a nearly daily basis.  It's just one more thing.

I'm strongly considering giving up homeschooling and sending the kids to public school.  I am exhausted and need the help (from a professional teacher) and I am concerned they aren't getting enough education and enough organizational skills at home, in addition to the fighting and poor modeling happening in our house.  I am really sad about this because we were very committed to homeschooling and I really wanted this for my children, neither of whom are eager to go to public school, and both of whom have close friendships in the homeschooling community that would likely be strained by the change.  Nonetheless I am plagued by constant worry that although we chose to homeschool our children because we thought it would be better for them, because my spouse's ADHD was undiagnosed and has remained way under treated, that we've unwittingly done them a great disservice and that public school, while not ideal, may very well be better for them than this.

My husband, understandably, does not want to be "fired" from another job (homeschooling dad) and doesn't want to have failed again.  He argues with me that homeschooling is way better for them and that school would be a bad choice.  I personally think homeschooling could and SHOULD be better for them, but being homeschooled this way ISN'T better for them.  

I'm really sad and really frustrated and really at a loss of what to do.  I can't just step back and continue to let my spouse teach them however he wants - I've seen the results and I'm just not ok with these results as a mother of my 2 children.    I can't pick up all the slack and have a full time executive job AND homeschool them myself and constantly try to be a buffer between spouse and eldest. I've tried to compensate for my spouse's difficulties a LOT (and I am exhausted and it's not enough). I don't want to be the one to "fire" my spouse.   But I need to be a good mother to my kids...

P.S.  My spouse getting another job would probably be difficult.  His work history is marred by the gap in employment and job losses, and he has struggled to invest the energy to pursue finding another job in the past, instead avoiding much of the job hunting process.  Daycare before and after school and in summer would become an issue at our house again if he did get a job, and would likely eat up much of his earnings.