ADHD and Maternal Resiliency: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Canadian and American Mothers

by Patricia Neff


The increased prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among Canadian and American children has introduced a surge in ‘self-help’ books marketed toward mothers. The perceived necessity for this has been shored up by scholarly and popular belief that raising an ADHD child is a stressful, burdensome and over-whelming responsibility. The perception is that these mothers are in need of advice and guidance in order to rise to the challenge.

ADHD, marked by impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity, is frequently misinterpreted as a result of poor mothering despite professional efforts to define it as a biologically predetermined disorder independent of socialization. Despite professional allegiance to the biological definition of the disorder, much academic focus has been directed toward discovering maternal pathology and dysfunction. This book provides a much needed counter perspective to current stereotypes about mothers of ADHD children as ill-quipped or pathological.

Relying on large-scale quantitative data, Patricia E. Neff provides a detailed analysis of the impact of raising an ADHD child, as compared to a non-ADHD child, on maternal well-being. This is the first book of its kind to address the subject of mothering an ADHD child using two nationally representative and cross-cultural samples of Canadian and American mothers and children. A unique picture of how Canadian and American mothers are influenced by the ADHD status of their child, as well as their child’s behavior and use of medication is revealed.

This research is also concerned with the role of social support in mediating the effects of ADHD on maternal well-being. While numerous studies have examined the influence of social support in families of children experiencing an illness or handicap, this is the first to systematically explore the utilization of social support among mothers of ADHD children.

According to Neff, the use of small, homogenous and clinically referred samples has contributed to negative characterizations of mothers of ADHD children. This is a timely piece of work as ADHD is now the most frequently diagnosed and treated disorder among school age children across Canada and the United States.

ADHD and Maternal Resiliency provides a critical new perspective on mothering an ADHD child that will be of interest to sociologists, psychologists, clinicians, and educators, as well as mothers and families of ADHD children. Recommendations are advanced to increase research efforts toward gaining a greater understanding of the strengths and resources which enable mothers to successfully cope with the associated difficulties of mothering an ADHD child.


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