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James Brody
December 9th, 2005, 10:00 PM
The couple hatched a problematic child before their divorce. Mom was certain that he had ADHD, dad didn't see it but saw many signs of distress in his son, distress related to his living in two separate household. Mom was restless and labile and very determined that things be done just right; dad was a colorful outdoorsman. She described their son in one set of terms, dad in another.

Keith Connors rating forms provide one measure of ADHD and he's created them, and validated them, for parents and for teachers to complete. I issued a set to the boy's parents but was fairly sure what data I would get. Mom's profile fit her as much as it fit her son; the same was true for dad's ratings. The teachers saw, however, a normal child.

Similarities lead us to mates and similarity is the strongest factor in mate selection. "We have so much in common." And similarity in psychopathology is a common attractor. Thus, the kids get a little more quirky with each passing generation, especially since large schools and Internet resources mean that any one of us can find our twin and fall in love. And the 50% genetic overlap means than sync is most likely between parent and child, more so than between husband and wife.

As to the kid: I got mom to act more like dad and dad a little more like mom, taught both parents to lecture and yell less and to use more time-out procedures, and the kid settled down.

References:

1,2,3 Magic, a 2-hr video by Dr. Thomas Phelan. I estimate using it for about 300 families over the past few years. I recall only one or two failures. The tape retails for about $50 at 1-800-ADD-WARE, a distributor for ADHD materials and founded by Harvey Parker, Ph.D., also a cofounder of the national organization for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. Good resources, both the tape and the Warehouse.

Maes, H. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Hewitt, J. K., Silberg, J. L. Foley, D. L., Meyer, J. M., Rutter, M., Simonoff, E., Pickles A., & Eaves, L. (1998) Assortative mating for major psychiatric diagnoses in two population-based samples. Psychological Medicine, 28(6), 1389-1401.

Strogatz, S. (2003) Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order. NY: Hyperion.