How to Co-Parent a Child with ADHD: Solutions from Readers


Co-parenting requires cooperation, communication, and organization across households, especially when caring for children with ADHD, who thrive on structure. But it’s rarely a smooth operation. When we polled ADDitude readers about co-parenting challenges during a live webinar on the topic, about 25% of respondents said that working with an uncooperative co-parent was their biggest challenge. Additional co-parenting struggles include the following:

  • Communicating effectively: 17.86%
  • Addressing behavior that stems from ADHD: 17.86%
  • Setting limits around screen time: 15.13%
  • Aligning on school or homework expectations: 11.13%
  • Prioritizing sleep schedule: 8.40%
  • Managing medication: 5.04%

Here, ADDitude readers share the strategies they use to manage logistics, transitions, ADHD treatment, and more while co-parenting between households.

Co-Parenting Solutions

“Our two households are structured very differently. Household One has structure, routine, and a plan for managing meltdowns. Household Two, the weekend house, is “fun” — no rules, or routine. To help with continuity, we have an aide go to Household Two for two hours to help with homework, self-care, reminders, and emotional check-ins.” — An ADDitude Reader

The kids have only one bag that goes between houses. The bag has several pockets with items that always stay in this bag only. The bag is labeled, and there is a designated hook at each house for this bag.” — An ADDitude Reader

[Q&A: “Inconsistent Routines and Discipline in a Shared Custody Situation”]

“I inform my son’s father when major deadlines are coming up. He is a control-freak, so he ensures the assignments get completed.” — Jennifer, Australia

“We text updates about the kids nearly every day. I take care of supplies and Dad checks Schoology (our learning management system). We cc: each other on emails to the school. It’s a full division of tasks plus courtesy on communication. The biggest challenge early on was tech time. My house is more relaxed than Dad’s, and the kids wouldn’t want to go to Dad’s because that meant no more tech. We agreed that the kids could do 30 minutes of tech as soon as they got to Dad’s, which helped. In addition, we accept that some things will be forgotten between homes, and we never make it the fault of our children. It is what it is.”  — Katey, Minnesota

Bonus tip from Katey: “Engage your child’s teachers and school counselor early on. The counselor, in particular, can be an impartial third party and help with organizing assignments between households.”

“It’s hard and we don’t always get it right, but I divide medication and give labeled pill pouches to my child’s dad that he transfers to a pill keeper at his house. Fortunately, we have good communication and check in several times a week on assignments, supplies, etc. We used to use the Cozi Family Organizer and that helped. I’ve heard OurFamilyWizard works really well for a lot of families. When things start to fall through the cracks, we have a family meeting.” — April, Washington

[Read: Crime and Punishment and ADHD: When Parents Disagree on Discipline]

We do emotional check-ins at pick up and address issues immediately. Trying to communicate as much as possible helps the most.” — Jessie, Nevada

“This is particularly challenging for us, considering what I affectionately refer to as our ‘collective executive dysfunction’ as kiddo and both parents have ADHD. One of our primary coping skills is to have a full set-up at each home (clothes, weather gear, vitamins, toothbrush, phone charger, insurance cards, toys, etc.). Our kiddo suggested we have the school administer her daily meds. This has led to a more consistent routine and took the pressure off of the general leave-the-house scramble. On transition days, I set few limits and focus on enjoying each other’s company and easing back into our rhythm. Finally, one of the most important factors in handling the home-to-home transition is GRACE.” — An ADDitude Reader

How to Co-Parent: Next Steps

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