Ultimate Guide to Parent=to-parent Networks

Children with ADHD may struggle in the classroom, and require extra attention from parents. See more parenting pictures.
©iStockphoto.com/Jani Bryson

Children tend to have a lot of energy. Almost all of them have rambunctious days, and most can long outlast moms and dads on a playground. So if you have a little trouble getting a kid to settle down and focus, it may not be cause for concern. In some cases, however, a child's negative behavior patterns and high energy level might indicate that he or she has ADHD.

When a child has ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, his brain has a malfunction that results in a lowered ability to control impulses, behavior and/or attention span [source: O'Regan]. This may result in that child being hard to control, temperamental or needy for attention. Parenting is always a challenge, but if your child has a disorder, it can be that much harder. For example, children with ADHD may struggle in school or have self-esteem issues, thus requiring added attention and diligence from parents [source: Mayo Clinic].

If you're the parent of a child who has ADHD, you're probably well aware of these challenges and face them on a daily basis. That's why it's important for every child and parent to remember that ADHD is an extremely common condition. In fact, some studies show that around 5 percent of children have some form of ADHD [source: O'Regan]. In other words, you're not alone.

Since many school children have some form of ADHD, there are plenty of other families dealing with issues similar to yours. A parent-to-parent network can help you connect with these families so that you can communicate with each other. By spending time sharing stories and advice and asking questions, you may be able to learn more about your child's condition -- and receive some emotional support for yourself, too.

To learn more about how to use parent-to-parent networks, read on to the next page.

Using ADHD Parent-to-parent Networks

As long as you've got access to a computer and the Internet, you'll probably find using a parent-to-parent network pretty simple. The first step is to locate a network that's right for you.

Networks specific to ADHD, such as ADHD Family Online, are available, as well as more general networks for parents, or parents of children with disabilities. You may find it helpful to consult your child's physician for suggestions. But even without a consultation, a simple Internet search should help you locate a variety of networks.

After locating networks that interest you, you'll need to find out whether it costs anything to become a member. Since many of these sites provide services, there's often a small fee associated with joining or using those services. For example, the MUMS National Parent-to-parent Network asks all participants to fill out a survey that the site then uses to match applicants with similar families. There's a $5 fee associated with the matching process (although the organization may waive the fee if a parent cannot afford it) [source: MUMS]. ADHD Family Online is $19.97 for a one-month subscription [source: ADHD Family Online].

Once you're a member, using an ADHD parent-to-parent network may be as simple as navigating through its site. For example, a particular area of its Web site may allow you to communicate with other families. By e-mailing or posting messages in forums, you can teach and learn from others who are going through the same things you struggle with every day.

Many find using a parent-to-parent network beneficial for themselves and their child. If you're interested in learning more about the potential benefits, move on to the next page.

Benefits of ADHD Parent-to-parent Networks

The goal of any ADHD parent-to-parent network is to connect two or more families living with a child who has ADHD. By connecting with another parent in a similar situation, you can share stories, give advice, vent your frustrations and exchange important medical information. This can help you better understand what your child is going through. It could also help lead you toward a new treatment or a great doctor. And it could be a therapeutic release for you as well.

Many parents of children with ADHD, or any disorder for that matter, tend to focus so much of their energy on their child that they overlook themselves. Talking to another parent who can empathize with your situation may help you recognize that you're not alone. Or that you're not to blame. Or that you and your child can be OK. For many parents, the simple exchange between themselves and people who understand is the biggest benefit of these networks.

Many sites offer other benefits beyond communication with other families. Some offer newsletters that include personal stories and important, disorder-related news [source: MUMS]. Others may connect you with ADHD experts and doctors who can offer advice and medical insight [source: ADHD Family Online]. Most sites have articles available and links to direct you to other helpful sites. Before joining a specific network, be sure to read through the different public sections of its Web site. That way, you'll be able to compare the benefits and costs to determine which fits your needs best.

To learn even more about parent-to-parent networks, check out the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology. "Common Signs and Symptoms." (Accessed 12/29/2009)http://www.aacap.org/cs/adhd_a_guide_for_families/common_signs_and_symptoms
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "How Common is ADHD?" (Accessed 12/29/2009)http://www.aacap.org/cs/adhd_a_guide_for_families/how_common_is_adhd
  • ADDA. "Join ADDA." Attention Deficit Disorder Association. (Accessed 12/29/2009) http://web.memberclicks.com/mc/page.do?sitePageId=92501&orgId=atdda
  • ADHD Family Online. "Membership Has Its Advantages." (Accessed 12/29/2009) http://www.adhdfamilyonline.com/public/10.cfm
  • ADHD Family Online. "Subscription Application Form." (Accessed 12/29/2009) https://www.adhdfamilyonline.com/public/5.cfm
  • Mayo Clinic. "Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. February 13, 2009. (Accessed 12/29/2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275
  • MUMS. "MUMS National Parent-to-parent Network Survey." (Accessed 12/29/2009) http://www.netnet.net/mums/howtjoin.htm
  • O'Regan, Fintan, J. "ADHD." Google Books. 2005. (Accessed 12/29/2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=ee9Mg0B-Eh0C&pg=PA11&dq=how+common+is+ADHD&ei=ISc6S-r6G4fUMpSS9bYB&cd=1#v=onepage&q=how%20common%20is%20ADHD&f=false