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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2013 Dec;81(6):988-98. doi: 10.1037/a0033490. Epub 2013 Jun 24.

Parental ADHD symptoms and self-reports of positive parenting.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia.



In 2 studies, we tested whether parental attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms are associated with self-reports of more positive parenting, even after accounting for observed positive parenting behaviors.


In Study 1, 96 mothers with sons 8-11 years of age participated; 44% of the boys were diagnosed with ADHD. The majority of mothers and sons were European Caucasian. In Study 2, 48 parents (24 mother-father pairs) with children 6-12 years of age participated. All children in Study 2 were diagnosed with ADHD, and 75% of the children were boys. More than 90% of the families were Caucasian. In both studies, parents self-reported on their positive parenting, and positive parenting was observed in parent-child interactions.


In models including relevant demographic variables, other parental psychopathologies, and both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, parents with higher levels of hyperactive/impulsive symptoms self-reported engaging in significantly more positive parenting behaviors than were observed. Parental inattentive symptoms were not uniquely associated with self-reports of positive parenting. This pattern was found for both mothers and fathers, and across families with and without children diagnosed with ADHD.


Results suggest that high levels of parental ADHD symptoms may be associated with over-estimation of positive parenting behaviors. Reasons for the distinction between the types of ADHD symptoms associated with higher self-reports of positive parenting and the clinical implications of the findings are discussed.

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