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Keywords:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
  • experiences;
  • interviews;
  • mothers;
  • nursing

Abstract

Title. Mothers’ experiences of parenting a child with attention deficit hyperactivitydisorder.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the perceptions and experiences of mothers parenting a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Background.  Previous quantitative studies have focussed on parenting styles and treatments, and highlight that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has a negative impact on family functioning. However, fewer researchers have explored maternal experiences of parenting a child with this disorder. A narrative-based feminist approach can provide greater insights into complex issues related to mothering a child with this disorder.

Method.  Data were collected in 2007 with a volunteer sample of 11 mothers of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder via in-depth interviews. Analysis was completed by listening for self-evaluative statements, paying attention to meta-statements and by identifying both consistencies and incongruities within participant’s narratives.

Findings.  Dominant issues identified were: It’s been 10 years of being on edge: The caring responsibility as overwhelming; If I had my time over again, I wouldn’t tell the truth: Stigmatized, scrutinized and criticized; What have I done? What did I do? How come I’ve got this child: Guilt and self-blame and He doesn’t stand a chance: Mother as advocate.

Conclusion.  Mothering a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is stressful and demanding, and mothers felt marginalized. Media portrayal of this disorder contributes to confusion related to causes, diagnosis and treatment choices. More education for healthcare professionals is needed to enable them to give appropriate guidance and support to enhance outcomes for children and their parents.