Melissa Orlov: ADHD in Parents — Fostering a Supportive Family Environment | All Together #54

In this episode, host Dina Sargeant is joined by Melissa Orlov, a marriage consultant who specializes in helping ADHD-affected couples

The podcast discusses some typical struggles caregivers with ADHD face raising kids, like keeping your cool on those days when the children really push your buttons cause your mind is always elsewhere or enforcing rules can be tricky when your memory isn’t so tidy. If any of those challenges sound familiar, definitely give it a listen.

Meet Melissa Orlov

The guest is Melissa Orlov, a marriage consultant who specializes in helping ADHD-affected couples understand how ADHD impacts relationships. She is the founder of ADHD Marriage. Melissa got interested in this topic after her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at age 12. 

She has written two books on the topic: “The ADHD Effect on Marriage” and “What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew.” Through her website,, Melissa hosts seminars and training programs for couples dealing with adult ADHD. She believes education is important for framing ADHD as a neurological difference rather than a character flaw.

About the episode

Melissa says that it’s common for parents living with ADHD to face challenges like keeping their cool even when the children are really pushing buttons. Discipline can also be tough since focusing takes extra effort. Maintaining balance as a team when one person finds cleaning and scheduling hard going is important, too. With both parents dealing with ADHD, carrying the mental load gets overwhelming fast for the one who’s more on top of things.

She explains that communication is key, but sticking your head in the sand won’t cut it. How you each respond to the other’s struggles shapes the dynamic. Setting up shared calendars, daily appreciation moments, and trading off tasks gives two ADHD couples the flexibility to support each other beyond expectations. Educating yourself on ADHD symptoms, breathing when flustered, and expressing affection to family each day can help make life smoother as a squad.

ADHD runs in the genes, so both parents and kids are frequently impacted. Without strategies, symptoms usually continue into adulthood for close to 7 in 10 diagnosed as kids. Things like constant distraction, lack of time awareness, big feelings, acting without thinking, and living in the now are common. Kids with ADHD reach self-control milestones about 3 years later than other kids their age. They also often face way more criticism than peers by 12 from folks like parents and teachers, feeling like they can never get it “right.”

For people with ADHD, the reward center of the brain is involved, so planning and duties are less inherently gratifying than exciting, novel, or fun activities. When one partner refuses to acknowledge that ADHD shapes things, it unbalances the scales, with the more organized person over-functioning to make up the difference. ADHD brains may also struggle more with pinpointing and handling emotions because lower dopamine impacts attention and motivation. Structures and routines empower ADHD-impacted kids more than perceived rules and criticism, reducing conflicts.

Here are some tips and recommendations she shares for supporting families affected by ADHD:

  • Learn about ADHD. Get educated on ADHD through books, websites, seminars to better understand how it impacts family members.
  • Practice emotion regulation. When upset, practice deep breathing together to self-regulate emotions. Teach children this coping skill.
  • Do daily appreciation. Ritualize daily appreciation check-ins where each person shares something positive about others in the family.
  • Use tools and gamify tasks. Use calendars, to-do lists, and reminder systems to coordinate responsibilities and avoid assumptions that lead to resentment. Gamify tasks to make activities more engaging for those with ADHD. Set rewards/goals.
  • Give support. Allow neurodivergent family members to lead their own lives with support, not over-direction/micromanaging.
  • Consider counseling. Consider counseling/coaching to remedy imbalanced family dynamics before they cause relationship damage.

In conclusion

ADHD leaves its mark on how families function and get along—both for kids and grownups. But families can face this stuff and still thrive together with schooling themselves and small, considerate habits like talking it out, daily gratitude moments, and coordination. 

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