“Mom Just Forgot Me at a Gas Station”: A Qualitative Study of Parental ADHD in the Home

Hailey M. Alvey, Andy Walters, Laura K. Noll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing literature suggests that the symptomatology for adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have serious implications for parenting behavior. Although presentation of symptoms for adults with ADHD may negatively impact ability to successfully and confidently fulfill parenting responsibilities (e.g., involvement and responsiveness, timeliness, organization, routine), far less is known about how the disorder affects children in the home. The few qualitative studies identifying this issue are limited in breadth and include either unclear interpretations of analyses or a sample consisting of children under the age of 18. The current study addressed this chasm by assessing retrospective experiences of emerging adults who grew up with a parent with ADHD. The study included 16 semi-structured interviews with emerging adults aged 18 to 25 and used thematic analysis to examine themes across individuals. Analyses revealed that individuals often felt an inherent responsibility for their parent’s ADHD symptoms, and subsequent feelings of guilt and resignation. Additionally, individuals identified a lasting, existential impact on the way they viewed the world and the persons around them resulting from their experiences with ADHD parents. Finally, a large aspect of growing up with ADHD parents was navigating assumptions about parenting responsibilities which were perceived as shattered as a direct result of ADHD symptomatology. By advancing our understanding of ADHD and its impact on the home environment from these children’s perspectives, this project has implications for family science and the broader behavioral health field, placing an emphasis on family-based approaches to disorder education and advocacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • ADHD
  • Emerging adults
  • Parenting
  • Qualitative research
  • Thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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