Dear Dr. Yael,
My son is dating a girl who is beautiful, charming, and full of personality. She just told him that she takes Vyvance which is a medication for ADHD. I am concerned about him marrying this girl since ADHD is genetic. Please advise me what to do. My son has dated a lot and is crazy about this girl.
Having ADHD is not a death sentence. In fact, some adults with ADHD are very successful and productive people. It is definitely important to do your research to make sure that this girl is a productive and functioning member of society, but finding out about her ADHD doesn’t seem like a deal breaker to me. The fact that she has been diagnosed and is taking medication can be a positive thing as it may show that she is someone who takes care of issues and overcomes challenges. There are many people out there who have ADHD and are undiagnosed and unproductive. She, on the other hand, is aware of her challenges and is working on them. Additionally, everyone will have their strengths and weaknesses. Your son will have to decide if he can live with her set of weaknesses and if her strengths overcome her weaknesses from his perspective.
Regarding genetics, this is a tricky question. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of ADHD in those who have a parent or sibling with the condition, but we know from these studies that other factors play a role as well. There is no way to know if a child of theirs will have ADHD or if they’ll face the challenges associated with ADHD, but every shidduch is a risk. Additionally, while ADHD is definitely a challenging thing to have, many people (as you see from this girl your son is dating) grow up to be successful and contributing members of society.
There really is no easy answer to your question. Everyone has challenges, some are obvious and others are not. This girl may be an amazing match for your son and it may not be smart to pass her up without doing more research. If she really is as amazing as your son thinks she is, a possibility of her having children with ADHD may not be a good enough reason to give up on the shidduch. Your son is the one who ultimately has to make this decision as it will be his life that will be affected. Are children with ADHD a challenge, yes! However, children can have ADHD even if neither parent has ADHD and there are no guarantees in life.
My bigger concern would be to make sure that this girl is in fact put together and productive. Because this girl seems aware of her difficulties and is on medication, it would seem that she is five steps ahead of the game. Living with someone who has untreated ADHD can be very difficult, as the relationship can become very lopsided where one of the spouses ends up taking care of both spouses’ responsibilities. When one is married to someone with untreated ADHD he/she may feel like his/her spouse is someone you need to organize and direct like a child instead of having a partner. In these situations, non-ADHD spouses can feel isolated, distant, overwhelmed, resentful, angry, critical, and accusatory, while the spouses with ADHD can feel nagged at, rejected, and stressed. When this happens, the relationship can easily fall apart if these frustrations are not acknowledged and addressed. However, in your situation, it seems like the girl is taking medication in order to be more productive and focused.
It is important that your son have some more serious conversations with this girl about how her childhood was, what led her to this diagnosis and treatment, how she handles stress and some of her symptoms, etc. This has to be done gently as you don’t want your son to chas v’shalom hurt her, but this is important information to ascertain before moving forward.
Hatzlocha with whatever you decide. Remember that Hashem runs the world and although we have bechira and must do our hishtadlus, we also have to have bitachon that Hashem will do what is best for us. Do your hishtadlus in this situation and if the information you receive is positive and you decide to move forward, do so with peace of mind that Hashem runs the world!