Skip Nav
26 Perks of Being in a Serious Relationship in Your 20s
An Expert Says This Is the Secret to Kicking Your Sex Drive Into High Gear
Whoa, These 11 Elaborate Costumes on Etsy Cost Thousands of Dollars — See the Wild Designs

You Asked: My Boyfriend Has ADHD

Dear Sugar,

My fiancé and I have been together for three years. I love him dearly, but he has ADHD. While his symptoms aren't severe enough to impact me (other than his occasional forgetfulness and constant pacing), I am worried about our future. He occasionally brings up the possibility of having children once we are married, but every time he mentions it, I get worried. I feel as if I almost don't even want to have children with him after reading that a third of all fathers with ADHD have children with ADHD. I don't know how I would deal with that behavior and academic issues in a child when I was always a straight A student. Is it horrible to think this? And what can I do to get it out of my mind?

— Concerned Cara

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Concerned Cara,

It's easy to read about worst-case scenarios on the Internet and end up in a tizzy over what may happen, but frankly, every time anyone has a child there's a chance that something could go wrong, and it may or may not be ADHD. Either way, it doesn't mean she won't have behavioral problems or bring home a perfect report card. My point is that while I understand your concerns, there's no point in imagining what could be. Many children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD every year and the majority of them will grow up to be perfectly happy, functional adults.

While it may be more demanding to raise a child with this diagnosis, all children come with their own set of challenges. There's always a chance that something could go wrong, and it may or may not be ADHD. But either way, it doesn't mean she won't have behavioral problems or guarantee a perfect report card. If you really feel like this is something you may not be able to overcome, voice your concerns to your fiancé. Since he faces this every day, he may be able to open up your perspective on the situation, and certainly he has a right to know if you don't want to have children with him.

You could also join an online forum for mothers of children with ADHD. I'm sure they'll be able to give you plenty of advice and many positive stories. But most importantly Cara, recognize that life is full of oppositions that we're all stronger for when we finally overcome them. So instead of worrying, start educating yourself.


Join The Conversation
lexichloe lexichloe 9 years
You're smart to be thinking about your genetic pool before you have kids. Anyone who is wanting to conceive w/ their significant other should take every possible health factor into consideration b/f doing so. I don't think alot of couples face those facts. Thankfully, ADHD is common, and hence more treatable than other health conditions like cancer, heart conditions, etc.
iheartnitz iheartnitz 9 years
My brothers and I, as well as my father, all have ADHD. We were actually all model students, in the gifted program at my school, no issues in school whatsoever. It manifested itself differently in all 3 of us -- I was really hyper; my oldest brother had anger issues when he didn't take his Ritalin. The thing is, although I admit I did have a very mild form of it, ADHD is not a crippling condition. Obviously it may make your children harder to manage than normal children, but the medications on the market DO work. I also want to point out that if my boyfriend didn't want to have children with me just because I have ADHD, I would be heartbroken.
imdamoos imdamoos 9 years
In my private prep school, if you ask, you'll find out that there are so many people with ADD that seems ridiculous to even diagnose people with ADD, because then we'd all be ADD and no one would be "normal" (I do realize that there are people who have severe ADD/ADHD; the term just seems to be getting thrown around and at people). I got diagnose with ADD, but I don't even like to think about it because the fictitious stereotypical kid with ADD is NOT me, or anyone I know who "has" ADD. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, but I can pay attention fine, and if I'm not paying attention it's because I'm being lazy or I just don't want to. EVERYONE spaces out when something is boring, or even every now and then, and if you have never spaced out, I feel sorry for you. There is no deficit; I'm not lacking anything, and there's no disorder. I know it sounds cheesy, but if THIS is a disorder (probably named that by someone who didn't have it) I would be--and am--SO afraid to be "normal." I'd be afraid that I wouldn't be able to be funny anymore, or daydream, or create intricate stories, or even have the same experience when I listen to music. Honestly, I'm afraid my head would be empty. And I'm concerned that you aren't afraid of having a normal child. Surely if you had a child with ADD/ADHD you wouldn't tell that child, "I don't want you; you have ADHD"? Sure, it might make things easier, but things can always be easier (and then they start to get boring).
alphaxigirl07 alphaxigirl07 9 years
Listen, as angry as I could get about this post, I realize that you only don't know about the subject and therefore, should definitely look into it. ADD/ADHD is actually really fascinating! There is a LOT that can be learned. Like did you know that people who have ADD/ADHD are very creative? Did you know that people who have ADD/ADHD tend to have higher IQ's? In fact, just like Janine22 said, doctors, psychologists and educators.. all the people who are around with/work with individuals who have ADD/ADHD on a regular basis.. are starting to realize that it may not be an actual disorder or disability. In fact it may be just another form of thinking. Because other people don't think that way, it is seen negatively because we are unsure how to handle it. Also, everyone has a certain disposition. People who are ADD/ADHD just have a different area they need to work on than you do. No one is perfect, let's just remember that. In addition, I didn't realize that I had ADD until mid-way through college. Up until then, I was the girl who was always getting A's and the occasional B. I got honor roll all the time. I have received academic honors. I had to work for these, but I wanted them, so I did it. If you end up having a child, refocus your concern not on the child having ADD/ADHD, but on helping bring that child up in a life that you expect out of them. This is the only way ANY child can excel in life, regardless of disability or not. Without parental support... well, it just doesn't work :) I hope you will take the time to research now.. be sure to not only notice the difficulties people have who have ADD/ADHD, but notice all the wonderful traits they may have as well. Then be sure to let your boyfriend know how much you appreciate HIM as a person, and let him know you are okay with his flaws, just as I am sure he is okay with yours.
cerealchan cerealchan 9 years
I've had the same concerns with you as well, but my ADHD boyfriend exhibits almost no ADHD symptoms of all - he has never taken medication because he had to learn how to deal with it himself. IF you really are stressed out about the small possibility of having children with ADHD, you should not turn to medication automatically. I used to be enormously hyperactive and attention deficit, but I certainly wasn't ADHD, I was just being a kid. Basically, you have to find an outlet for the child in order to focus the excess energy on it and be successful. Many athletes such as Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson exhibit qualities of hyperness, but they were able to Hyperfocus their attention into that. In the end, please, do not fret - there are many things more that you can enjoy in the world, such as having a loving, supportive partner and the possibility of beautiful, unique children. Having a 4.0 is one of many aspects of success, and as long as that isn't your end goal to be all for your hopefully well-rounded and creative children, I think you should not worry. Just please, don't be quick to resort to medication - many great people have learned to cope without it, and refocus into amazing individuals (Michael Phelps.)
courtneyh courtneyh 9 years
Unlike a lot of women on here, I sympathize with how you're feeling. The problem is that he obviously is NOT controlling his ADHD with medicine or herbs. So first of all you need to address that and HELP him. Second, if you don't want to pass on his ADHD gene-then ADOPT, seems to be plenty of Dear Sugar's around here these days about abortion. How about it? The girls who keep writing in about abortion-you have your baby and give it to this girl. Fair? Joking, obviously, seems to me that some people just don't consider their options, when there seems to be many!
samischo samischo 9 years
A have a lot of friends with ADD or ADHD, and we all go to a california university. Obviously they had to get near straight A's to get in there and they're all just as smart and capable as me, if not more. Your kids will be fine.
ABear ABear 9 years
I would worry about my kids coming out as judgmental as you are rather than being slightly hyper.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I can't believe the poster that said that premature hair loss would be a worse gene than adhd. I'm not saying that adhd is terrible, but seriously, are you that vain? I swear, I just hope my kids are good people who are loving and compassionate. And I hope they have their basic health. And beyond that, we're just lucky.
CYL CYL 9 years
Amen skigurl!
sldc sldc 9 years
Kids and relationships are tons of work. You do not get to pick your childrens' personalities. Put things in perspective: ADHD is hardly a major disability. Ignorant people SHOULD hesitate to breed.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
holy shit you're selfish you dont' want to have kids with a guy for the one negative trait he might give them because you dont' think you can "handle" it? you dont' deserve to have kids
FourLeafJewel83 FourLeafJewel83 9 years
I think with all the other things out there to be worrying about, ADHD/ADD is a pretty small thing to worry about. Plus, it's not that hard to deal with, and as someone with ADD, it actually makes me really mad to hear anyone say that they don't want to have kids if it means that the kids might have it. ADD is SO minor, and if you're so worried about dealing with that, you might want to think about not having kids, since there are WAY worse things that could happen...
theflyinghorse theflyinghorse 9 years
Wow, I don't even know what to say to that. Real life isn't all sunflowers and rainbows, you would be LUCKY if ADHD was the worst thing that you're children were born with as KJerabek stated earlier. Get a clue!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
"especially by video games. This definitely posed a problem when we were over at his house, and when he was on the phone with me." -- you're kidding right? because I sure as heck can't talk on the phone and watch tv or play a video game at the same time and I don't have ad(h)d. OP: if you're a good parent, you won't have anything to worry about.
Ella4 Ella4 9 years
I always think if you have any doubts what so ever about having a kid and your ability to parent a child then you shouldn't have one. After a baby is born it's too late to realise you were right and that you can't cope. I'm not saying that in this case the ADHD should be a definite no factor but suggest you do your homework and make an informed decision based on what you know about your self and your partner (how is his condition going to affect his ability to support you in parenting) and don't feel in the slightest bit guilty if you do decide no kids.
aerie087 aerie087 9 years
michael phelps had ADD as a kid and he turned out alright ;)
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I am a Psychology student who has studied a bit about ADHD. There is a genetic risk involved with having a child with someone who has ADHD. But this does not mean that there is necessarily a high chance of your child developing it. Please educate yourself about the subject as much as you can and talk to your doctor. ADHD is actually a blanket term for a wide range of symptoms, and that is why there is no biological test (example, blood or DNA test) or anything else to indicate the presence of the disorder. It is thought that a child may actually inherit a tendency toward certain characteristics (for example, impulsivity or hyperactivity) rather than inheriting the disorder itself. Some of the other risk factors include: low parental education. Less educated parents may have less effective parenting styles, and may provide a less structured environment, both of which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. So, although this is a biological disorder, it can be very influenced by environment, and the way that the child is raised. This means that even if your child has ADHD symptoms, early intervention, parenting skills and education can greatly reduce the way that the disorder manifests, as well as the severity of symptoms. There is also a correlation between smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol while pregnant and the risk for the later development of ADHD. Another reason not to smoke or drink while pregnant! Lead poisoning and neonatal complications have also been shown to be a risk factor for ADHD. So although this disorder is heritable, the biological predisposition and course of the disorder can be affected by environment. This means that if you know that your child may develop this disorder, you can take steps to reduce the risk. When you have a genetic predisposition combined with environmental risk factors, the chance of the child developing it is much greater. If you aware of the risks and are a proactive and educated parent, your child could still do very well in life, even if he/she has symptoms of the disorder.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
Your kid could be born with anything, why stress about the 1/3 possibility it could be ADHD? There are MANY great thinkers who have ADHD and so to judge them like this pretty wrong. That said I had a boyfriend with ADHD and he drove me absolutely round the bend. He has pretty severe ADHD and wasn't able to have sex because he'd get distracted halfway through. It was AWFUL. He also constantly talked about himself but I think that's because he's a tool as opposed to the ADHD. :) If you've made it three years with him then I'm sure you'd cope fine in the future.
porkypocky porkypocky 9 years
my sister has ADHD, and it's not that bad to manage it, especially with medication. simple enough. there are good adult ADHD meds out on the market now that don't have the side effects of older meds, like Ritalin. it's also controllable without medication in milder cases. it just takes work, which most kids are anyway... on the other hand, my sister will have her ADHD quirks, and i bet your boyfriend does too. you just have to learn to deal with it. for instance, she loves to channel surf...glance at a show for a nanosecond and then switch at like 100 channels/second. it drives me crazy because i don't even get a chance to look and she's already changed it...i wonder sometimes if she's even watching tv at all :D
karlotta karlotta 9 years
Maybe HE's sitting there wondering whether your kids will be born with your dad's diabetes, your mom's breast cancer gene, and your arm fat. It's genetics, honey. It's about a lot more than a little ADHD. I'd be happy if my kids were born with just that one problem - I sometimes look at my and my boyfriend's health problems, quirks and flaws, and wonder what we'd do if our kids cumulate them. Would they live past age 12? Probably not. (But at least they'd be really gorgeous - :D) It's a lottery. You don't know. And it could turn out that you kids get all their wonderful traits from Dad - and all their flaws from you. That's what's so magical about having children: you stick two screwed up gene pools in a pot, stir like mad, and love that stinky mix with all your heart for the rest of your life, however it turns out. (And what if it turns out with Down Syndrome?...)
chocolatine chocolatine 9 years
This is slightly off-topic: justanerd1975, what kind of herbs does your son take to help him focus? My younger brother has autistic spectrum disorder, which is accompanied by ADD/ADHD symptoms. He's having lots of behaviour modification therapy which is helping a great deal, but if the herbs you mentioned have no side effects, I'll suggest that my parents supplement with them.
MandyPinecone MandyPinecone 9 years
Like the other posters, I myself have ADD, was diagnosed it in my 20's. I did well is school, A's and B's. Also my Father, brother, Brother-inlaw and nephew are ADHD. We all have differnt things that help us cope with daily life. So what if your child ends up being ADHD, there are ways to treat it. After my diagnoses I read everything I could to help myself and my future children. a good book to read is Driven To Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, and John J. Ratey.
alice86 alice86 9 years
I think you are being shallow..there are millions of children with ADHD who can achieve whatever they aim for. If you make it a big deal with children then they will also, if you don't then they wont...I am a teacher so I am speaking from experience...
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 9 years
My only fear was that my daughter would be retarded (and in that case I wasn't going to go through with it.. I knew that I could never handle that). She has a strawberry birthmark shaped like a heart ON her heart, but they fade away. That's her only flaw and it's beautiful. :) I'm super abstract-minded/creative.. left-handed [ambidextrous now] (never put myself in the position to be diagnosed with anything), but I just needed encouragement growing up ..and people to work WITH me and the way that I think. For everything that is real and substantial, I like to see the opposite side of things. Then I want to come back around to understand the reality of things. I made C's and D's AND F's all through school. But I graduated early, 3 years 1 month. Even had my driver's license at 15. My college GPA is a 4.0 though. Go figure! (I need to get back in school once my daughter gets in Kindergarten.) It is an amazing feeling to watch my daughter figure things out for herself. I was really worried she wouldn't be bright, but even her teachers and the director go on and on about how alert/aware/talkative she is.. She does the puzzles best in her class, etc. When I see other children her age I wonder what the hell is wrong with them.. why are they just sitting there. People really have to work with their children.
Why It's Important to Be Responsive When Dating
Things to Discuss Before Marriage
Best Compliments to Give a Woman
Signs You've Found Your Soul Mate
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds