Current research shows that boys with ADD/ADHD benefit from special attention from their fathers. But how does a father learn about and understand how he can best support his ADHD son? This article will provide information and suggestions for fathers (and father-figures) about how to be the kind of parental support your son needs most.
All Boys Need a Father Figure
Single-parent matriarchal homes remain common in our society. For many families, a father figure is absent in the home. Whether a boy has ADHD or not, all boys benefit from having a positive father-figure around.
Most boys learn what it is like to be a man – and how to act like a man – primarily from their fathers. Adolescents might look to other males in their life for guidance, but their father is the primary role model. It is important that boys feel their father understands and accepts them as they are, whether they have ADHD or not. Boys with ADHD did not ask to be born with hyperactivity, distractibility, or impulsivity — but they were. Having a father-figure who acknowledges and accepts these parts of his son will greatly improve his overall self-esteem and ability to cope with his ADHD.
Boys model their father’s behaviors, and most want to be just like their father. This can benefit both son and father especially if the father also has ADD or ADHD and can sympathize with his son. Exhibiting this kind of compassion and acceptance builds positive self-esteem in the son.
However, if dad is critical, not there, or disapproves of his son’s behaviors, the boy will be remiss to create a healthy image of himself. The adolescent boy learns how to move toward being a man by watching his father and other male authority figures. The role that his father plays is critical to his accepting and respecting himself, and to moving successfully toward adulthood.
Acceptance and Support
The need for his father’s approval is even more critical when the son with ADHD has poor motor skills. He might be clumsy and have poor eye-hand coordination, and because of this, might not do as well as his friends at sports. If a boy is not successful in traditional sports, forming relationships with boys or feeling good about being a boy mat become more difficult. Having a father who understands and supports his son through these such issues makes a world of difference, as the son is still developing his self-esteem.
What a powerful message of acceptance if the father takes the son to practice, or helps with coaching. Participating in a father/son martial arts program can also be extremely beneficial for both parties. Exercising and participating in sports alongside your son helps them re-focus when they become distracted. Examples of supportive talk are,
- “I know it is hard for you to stay on task sometimes”.
- “Let’s try again”.
- “How can I help you?”
Boys with ADHD may be easily frustrated by sports and lash out at peers, or try to quit before giving an activity a fair chance. This impulsive behavior should have consequences at home. Fathers are encouraged to set boundaries with their son by sitting down night and talking about what happened. A strong message that the son is understood and accepted, while simultaneously teaching social skills, will ideally come from both parents, but may be more effective when initiated by the father.
In conclusion, boys with ADHD need their fathers even more than boys without because an extra level of compassion, acceptance, and support from a father-figure will help guide and shape the boy into a healthy emotional man. Without such support, boys with ADHD often struggle much more so than their peers. It is up to you to provide this support, getting support of your own when necessary. Your son deserves it.