Research designs incorporating the ecological systems approach to the study of the family have highlighted the importance of social resources (Bernier & Siegel, 1994). Aside from individual aspects of a child’s disorder, inadequate access to social support may contribute to dysfunction in families of ADHD children.
The primary goal of this study is to examine the effects of having an ADHD child on maternal well-being. Mothers of ADHD children are compared to mothers of non-ADHD children in both the United States and Canada. This research also explores and analyzes various dimensions of social support which are also important predictors of maternal well-being. Although several researchers have investigated the relationship between parenting stress and the occurrence of ADHD, few studies have examined the influence of social support as a coping mechanism used to ease the parental burden associated with raising an ADHD child.
Since Canadian mothers have access to cost-free medical care (at point of service) and a greater array of social services available for themselves and their children, higher levels of emotional well-being are expected to be found among mothers living in Canada. American mothers of ADHD children are also expected to rely more on sources of support, such as friends and family, than Canadian mothers of ADHD children. Since Canadian mothers of ADHD children are expected to place less strain on informal social support networks, the support they receive is expected to have more of a positive effect on their level of well-being.