The “Easy” Part of Raising My ADHD Grandchild: The Moments That Make It All Worthwhile

Posted March 24, 2011 by

When you are in your fifties or sixties or even older and you take on the life-altering responsibility of raising your grandchild, life gets tough. Time for yourself or with your spouse is not easy to find. You tire more easily and sometimes feel like you have less patience. You may be on a limited budget. And the grandchild you’re rasing may have medical problems or be a troubled adolescent.

I have heard from so many “Empowered Parents” commenting on my blogs. So many of you are older than I am and have your own medical problems or are dealing with a child who has severe medical or behavioral issues. God bless you. I have it relatively easy —  a granddaughter who “only” has ADHD, plus some “abandonment issues” when her parents gave custody to me and my husband. I am grateful for your kind and helpful comments; I feel truly humbled by you.

Sure, I find it extremely self satisfying to think that I am giving Maddy a second chance at a successful life.  But I find that the easiest part — and the best part — of raising her is the the love that she shows us. She is a typical eleven-year- old and she doesn’t always seem grateful, but at night she always puts her arms around me and tells me that she loves me. That is the best feeling in the world.

The smile on her face when things go well. When she has exhausted all her anger  and frustration and finally buries her head in my chest and clings to me when things go wrong. The look on her face as she sleeps and has let go of the cares of her world for the night. That is the easy part. I am so lucky and blessed that despite all her problems, I am able to witness all this with Maddy. I realize that not all of you have that happen in your lives. I hope that if you are raising your grandchild or grandchildren, that you are able to experience that at least occasionally. It makes it all worthwhile.


Nicole Roswell is married with four grown children, and she and her husband are now raising their eleven-year-old granddaughter with ADHD. They also have two dogs and two cats, and a mole who lives in the front yard “whose life long goal is to destroy every blade of grass that we own.”

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  1. cats4me59 Report

    My hubby and I had my daughter from previous marriage move in with us when she was 22 and preg with 1st child. Then in 17 mos came another, then in 16 mos another. All girls.My hubby and I both worked, daughter did for awhile but never contributed to house expenses nor chilrens. She let them run wild and destroy our home without discipline. At age 50 I lost my job to someone who made less and started receiving unemployment which put us in deeper fincial straight. Daughter finally got job but expected me to do all babysitting. Here I add I suffer from Fibromyalgia, muti-joint arth, neuropathy, have pressure on 3 discs in neck, 2 in back and carpral tunnel, am BiPolar, along with several other health issues. Hubby was doing most housework he could without help from daugh. 2 yrs ago she started to physically abuse the oldest-5 at the time- I had to make her leave. I could not tolerate that. Then took oldest now 7 to psych, middle already diagnosed with PDD. Pscyh told me oldest had ODD and the youngest almost 5 is following in her footsteps. Mom quit coming around for a long time, then about 6 mos ago started coming for a little while at a time. She now moved about 10 miles from me, took the girls(physical abuse has stopped) but still depends on me for overnights, weekends, dr appts, etc. She does have daytime sitter now. My hubby and I ages 53 & 52 are about insane trying to parent after her. She is some better but still puts children low on priority list. Any help or suggestions. My health is on overload.

  2. banalban Report

    I am a 50ish grandmother raising my 9 year old grandson who was diagnosed 3 years ago; Things weren’t too bad in the beginning even though we had to find several medications that would help as most made him wet his pants. He is now on the Daytrana patch and it’s working great with his attention and hyper issues; my concern is the combativeness and anger that is noow starting to show. to CrazyNanny: My grandson’s mother, a drug addict, had also flitted in and out of his life and I thought having that contact whenever possible would be good as abandonment issues were a concern too. But, I found this was making things worse for him as he would talk about wanting to live with her(she was usually homeless)etc. I finally gave him the children’s version of what his mother’s life was like and emphasized the comparison with that life or the one he currently had. It somehow sunk in and he rarely talks of her and seems to accept that life will never be right for her. I go crazy often, and I think the biggest problem I have is how this has affected my personal and working life. But, seeing him when he is proud of an accomplishment or got that A he has been striving for makes it worthwhile. I am now researching dysgraphia, as he has major issues with writing and penmanship and plan to talk to his doctor about it. Good luck everyone!

  3. Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Report

    To ‘crazynanny’: It sounds like you are feeling a little caught in the middle between what you think is best for your grandchildren, and what your husband would want you to do. This is a tough place to be in. The way I see it, bringing the kids to see their mother is something you’re doing more for their good than hers. I think you are handling this situation in the best way possible and it doesn’t sound like too many of your personal boundaries are being crossed by their mother. It’s a good idea to maintain your own boundaries in situations like this and focus on what you can control, and you seem to be doing that. If you do find yourself feeling used or resentful, that’s a sign that your boundaries are being crossed and you might need to re-evaluate the situation. Aside from boundaries, you can also control the rules in your home—but only your home. It’s not effective to try to get the children’s mother to uphold your rules in her house. The best you can do is work hard to let the kids know that certain behaviors are not tolerated in your home and hold them accountable for their behavior when they are with you. This sounds really challenging and we wish you and your family all the best as you continue to work through this. Take care.

  4. crazynanny Report

    I am so grateful for this web site that I look for it eagerly. My husband and I have our deceased son’s children and stepdaughter 11, 5 and 4. The biomom has had another child and has been through drug and relationship rehab. We have had to move away from her, about 100 miles, and she has chosen to live close to her last rehab. She has truly got many emotional issues herself but I believe they need her no matter what kind of parent she is. She only sees them every 2 weeks and it is the Disneyland mother routine. The kids are horrible while she is here, fighting over time with her and she wants to let them break rules I have had a hard time getting established. She is another child I seem to have to parent. My husband and his family despise her and do not want her around the kids. I try to share gas responsibilities and go get the kids half way when they stay with her. My husband says I let her use me. I know this but I know she will eventually get them back and I don’t want her to shut us out of their life when she does. I believe alot of their anger issues are because of abandonment and as long as she is drug and abusive man free she should raise them. I also realize that I may not get off this merry go round. Any help?

  5. granny V Report

    What a fantastic forum! I am a single grandmother raising my firstborn grandson. Its been a heck of a journey, to say the least. He has ADHD, tons of anger, resentment but also at the end of the day a lot of love. We have been busy forging a life, post divorce. Never thought I’d be searching for babysitters at 50!

  6. elainef24 Report

    hi.nicole thanks for your letter . i suffer from a.d.d. and it was treated when forty.i will be 46 so happy you are caring to your granddaughter today i was lonely and upset and all i wanted was my grandmother. so this care you are giving is diffently a blessing just keep being there for her.

  7. katlin Report

    I am a single grandmother raising my ADHD GD. She is almost 13 and the rude, reclusive behavior has begun. Two years ago all was well and the love and smiles were still there. Also, further complicating things is a bio mother who is seriously emotionally impaired and emulating her bad attitude is almost a given. We also rescue animals. We have a lot in common. I will be checking back here for the great advice. Thank’s Katlin

  8. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Report

    Nicole, thanks for sharing your story on our blog. I believe grandparents raising their grandkids deserve so much respect and gratitude. And you’re right about the love — it truly makes it all worthwhile.



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