You Can’t Always Send Your Grandchildren Home – Sometimes They Live With You!

Posted July 2, 2010 by

No empty nesting for us!  After twenty-six years of diapers, kindergarten, homework, first loves, heartbreaks, loud cars that were continually breaking down, college tuition, and weddings for our four children, my husband and I were ready for some down time, some alone time, and just plain fun time. That was not to be.

Instead, we are raising our 11-year-old granddaughter.

How did this happen, you ask. Let me take you back to 1999. Our youngest child and only daughter, Rachel, stunned us when, at age fifteen, she announced she was pregnant. She never had even dated! One act of rebellion, one error in judgement at a party, and our baby was going to be a mother. The boy told her to get an abortion or get lost, and we realized that he was not going to step to the plate to take responsibility or be in a position to contribute emotionally or financially. We told Rachel we would support whatever decision, and luckily, she chose the option that we were secretly hoping for — keeping the baby. My husband and I were with her when she gave birth — how can you be so proud of your daughter for being so brave through a tough labor and delivery, and so scared for her future and that of her new baby girl, all at the same time?

We loved Madeline from the moment she was born. She was sweet, affectionate, and always made us laugh. Rachel finished high school and went on to college and a job. When Maddie was two, Rachel met and eventually married a responsible, loving young man, Steven, who lived out of state. My heart broke when they moved out to be a family of their own in faraway New York, where Steven had a good job. It seemed that I was not only losing a daughter but our grandchild too. Maddie’s father, who had never even met her or had any interest in her, gave up his parental rights and Steven adopted her.

Rachel and Steven eventually had other children. Maddie had always been loud, easily anxious, and did not tolerate change well. Life became progressively intolerable for them as a family as Madeline got older. She became disruptive both in school and at home, aggressive toward their other children, and very disrespectful toward her stepfather. She was diagnosed with ADHD and started medication and counseling, neither of which was very effective.

Fast forward to 2008. When Madeline was nine, her parents could no longer take her behavior and their marriage was fragile. They asked us to let her come live with us. We had helped raise her as a baby and toddler, so she felt very comfortable with us. We had to go to court to request legal custody of her, so that she could attend school in our state.

It is a strange situation in a way, as we keep very good communication with her parents and we visit back and forth quite often. Her younger sisters love her very much and are too young to question why Maddie lives in another state with their grandparents, and not with them.

When Madeline came to live with us, we immediately questioned her meds. She was put on a new medication which gave her a little more control over her actions. Counseling seemed to help and gave her an opportunity to discuss her anger with her parents and how their fighting upset her and made her feel guilty, which was news to us. Her school counselor evaluated her with a minute-by-minute study and found she was attentive and focused in the morning, but horribly off task and disruptive in the afternoon when it wore off.

To help stabilize her activity levels and ability to focus throughout the day, her doctor gave her an additional medication to take at lunchtime. She became very aggressive toward us, and we had to physically pull her upstairs to go to bed at night. She was very angry and combative and would seethe with clenched teeth “I’m going to kill you.” After a day or two, I began to suspect her new medicine and told the school nurse not to give it to her anymore and called her doctor. Within a day or two without it, Maddie was back to her sweet self and on a new afternoon medicine that worked very well. Her aggressiveness was back to her “normal” level.

Maddie has been with us for two years now. We have been working on limits and responsibility with her, and letting her know she can try to take control of her actions despite her ADHD. We are learning to anticipate her moods and impulsiveness. James Lehman’s DVD on setting rules and consequences helped us a great deal. Madeline is getting good grades and is doing well on her meds, although she still has anger issues and mood swings. However, we have hope!

But I smile whenever someone who does not know our situation laughs and says, “The best thing about grandchildren is that you can send them home”! If they only knew…

About

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. Baker 4 (Edit) Report

    We are raising 4 Grandkids by my husbands daughter. Ages 7,6,4,3. And still have in our home my 17yr old son and his 15 yr old daughter (not mom to kids) In no way did we plan to have little ones this late in life.
    Having the hardest time with the defiance and temper tantrums. And the constant questioning of why cant we go live with mom or why doesn’t dad even call us. Mom’s rights will be terminated in a couple months, and that will open up a whole new box of questions and emotional upheaval. It is a bit helpful to know we are not in this alone, at least to know there are other grandparents having to fill the role of mama and papa.

    Reply
  2. Kids or Us (Edit) Report

    I have been raising my grandchild since he was 3, he’ now almost 15. He was diagnozed with many disorders and syndromes. He suffered trauma before we adopted him so the empowering parents newsletters didn’t help either. Many times he was violent and went through severe mood swings. We thought he was bipolar but he was recently diagnosed with Aspergers (a form of autism).
    He could never handle change,alienated people, so he had difficulty making friends and a more difficult time
    keeping them so he depended very much on his relationship with us. We never had a quiet dinners, fun days out so life was extremely difficult for all of us.
    He is now on meds that have stabilized his mood swings and life is a complete about face. Empowering parents newletters are now so effective, consequences aren’t
    objected and he now holds himself accountable for inappropriate behavior, whats more the episodes are few and far between. We have been so overjoyed about this that it’s like having a brand new kid. Never give up hope and enjoy the love you give and receive from kids that can eventually be found with the many resources that are out there. Good days are ahead for you. I really believe that.

    Reply
  3. Nicole Roswell (Edit) Report

    I am touched by the comments to my blog. Many of you have such difficult circumstances, I give you so much credit. We are lucky in that we are in close communication with Maddie’s family and that they care about her- they just can’t deal with her. I am in awe of all of you who deal with jail, abandonment, and other outside situations, or who are much older than us. Thank you for your comments and God bless you. ~ Nicole

    Reply
  4. Mamaw (Edit) Report

    I can’t send my grandchildren home either, because they are at home. They are 18,14 and 10. We love them very much and are very thankful we have been able to be there for them. I am 57 and my husband is 63 and is also disabled. I still work 35 hours a week 40 miles away, one way, so I drive about 100 miles (including errands, ball practices, etc). We both have major health problems and my husband has PTSD, so there are times when things get wild. Sometimes I think they all do things on purpose just to get attention. Their mother has been in and out of their lives for the past 18 years. She and her dad have tremendous problems also. So even though they may get mad at their mom they don’t want their grandfather or I to be upset with her. To make things worse the 18 year old’s dad died of pancreatic cancer about 3 years ago. He is very bitter about everything. The 14 and 10 year old don’t see their dad much since he lives in another town. This week all 3 kids were gone, church camp, visiting dad, and visiting friends. I had wanted to do so much but found the relief of not having to referee fights so relaxing I have done just that relaxed. And even though we have LOTS of problems I found myself really missing them this week. I know we have done and are doing some things wrong but we”re still trying. I just don’t feel it is good enough. I wish I knew what to do to make things better.

    Reply
  5. Norma (Edit) Report

    nanaapril; We too are raising our grandchild from a mother who is bipolar. I agree it is tough. Our daughter also has physical, mental and emotional issues as well as prescription issues. She is totally dependant on others. In our country, Canada, the ministry always wants the mother to have the child, so, the poor little thing has been back and forth from her house to ours. They will give her custody and yet the child was at our house, seven days a week. If we tried to make her keep him with her she would phone us in a rage demanding us to come and get him or she would hurt him. This went on all his ten years of life. He is once more with us and yes on medication for ADD. He is adjusting well, and with the help of Total Transformation and Empowering Parents, and finally with a team from the ministry, we are getting results for the child. My daughter is struggling. We had to turn our backs and walk away from her. Yes, she can be verbally brutal to me and to her son. She is unable to keep friends because she is constantly taking from them.
    We feel for you and your family. We know what it is like to have our retirement taken away and have to live the life of thirty year olds. It is hard as we are in our 70’s. I pray for you and your family as I pray for ourselves. Grandparents who take on the role of parents surely need a medal.

    Reply
  6. Aida (Edit) Report

    I am 61 years old and am raising my Bi-polar Daughter’s son since birth. He is ADHD/bi-polar.No father in the picture and I am not married. Many terrible days, he is a loving child when he is not Mr. Hyde.I have tapped every resource known to me in my city. He is 11 now and quite a handfull, no summer camps will accept him. I’m wearing down quickly. No light at the end of the tunnel for me.

    St. Cloud, fl

    Reply
  7. S. Meckel (Edit) Report

    Thank you all for sharing your wisdom. My daughter and her two children live with us. We love having them around and it is a delight but there are times…..

    My husband and I learned of a biofeedback process that has been very successful with ADHD. We have seen the process work and help many children learn to control their focus. No drugs and my nephew enjoyed it! Website used to be Hope 139 but has changed to Neurocore. Check it out – it does give hope and works hand in hand with what we have learned from James and his wise associates.

    Reply
  8. GlendaJ (Edit) Report

    I am a 60 yr.old grandmother along with my husband have been rasing our grandson since he was 9mos.old.I completely understand everyones situation about starting over raising your gradchildren. We too love him with all our being and would do anything to make everything better.Our grandson is now 6yrs.old and getting ready to start 1st. grade and he to is ADHD. It is very hard to say the least but we use consistency and lots of love and even that does not always help. Our dilemma is a little different in the fact that now that we were beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel my youngest son the father of my grandson now says he ready to take his son back . We are the only parents he has ever been with and it looks like the court system is going to let him. As grandparents raising our grandchildren I believe we must remain positive, try to find support groups in your area and do the best that you can.

    Reply
  9. Johanna (Edit) Report

    Hello all you wonderful grandparents, my heart and respect go out to you. I commend and encourage you to follow your heart.
    My husband and I have been married for almost 42 years. We have raised our 3 biological children, one adopted son from the age of 1 year, and 13 foster children.
    My husband and I have been missionaries for over 20 years. I am a special education teacher and I’ve taught/worked on several reservations throughout the USA.
    In 2003, we were called home to take care of our oldest daughter and her 2 children. Our daughter was given less than 2 months to live, because of stage 4 breast cancer. We cared for her and her children for 4 years! Along with medical doctors, prayers and faith, she was healed by God and is still “cancer free” today!
    In 2005, we were asked to raise our youngest son’s daughter, age 6. She has some deficiencies both emotionally and cognitively, but she is a wonderful child.
    Then in l999, our youngest daughter was having servere marriage problems and medical problems. She left her husband and moved in with us with her 2 children, ages 7 and 11; making our household number six!
    In December of 2009, I was diagnoised with breast cancer. But again with the help of physicians, faith and my Healer, the Lord Jesus Christ, the cancer was removed. Now I am “cancer free” as well. We have been raising our 3 grandchildren for these years. It has been very difficult and expensive at times, but we’re making it through with God’s help. We know that this time is only for a season and they will move on with their own lives. But in the meantime, they are under the love and care of us and their mother.
    What you are imparting into your grandchildrens lives will last for a life time and maybe for eternity. Although it maybe difficult and challenging, the rewards will be worth it in the end. Don’t give up, keep up the good work and know that this too will pass in your lives.

    Reply
  10. Johanna (Edit) Report

    Hello all you wonderful grandparents, my heart and respect go out to you. I commend and encourage you to follow your heart.
    My husband and I have been married for almost 42 years. We have raise our 3 biological children, one adopted son from the age of 1 year, and 13 foster children.
    My husband and I have been missionaries for over 20 years. I am a special education teacher and I’ve taught/worked on several reservations throughout the USA.
    In 2003, we were called home to take care of our oldest daughter and her 2 children. Our daughter was given less than 2 months to live, because of stage 4 breast cancer. We cared for her and her children for 4 years! Along with medical doctors, prayers and faith, she was healed by God and is still “cancer free” today!
    In 2005, we were asked to raise our youngest son’s daughter, age 6. She has some deficiencies both emotionally and cognitively, but she is a wonderful child.
    Then in l999, our youngest daughter was having servere marriage problems and medical problems. She left her husband and moved in with us with her 2 children, ages 7 and 11; making our household number six!
    In December of 2009, I was diagnoised with breast cancer. But again with the help of physicians, faith and my Healer, the Lord Jesus Christ, the cancer was removed. Now I am “cancer free” as well. We have been raising our 3 grandchildren for these years. It has been very difficult and expensive at times, but we’re making it through with God’s help. We know that this time is only for a season and they will move on with their own lives. But in the meantime, they are under the love and care of us and their mother.
    What you are imparting into your grandchildrens lives will last for a life time and maybe for eternity. Although it maybe difficult and challenging, the rewards will be worth it in the end. Don’t give up, keep up the good work and know that this too will pass in your lives.

    Reply
  11. nanaapril (Edit) Report

    My husband and I also are raising our grandchildren…Our granddaughter who is 15, two grandsons one which is 11 and the other 9….the ll y/o is bi-polar manic depressive. We love him much but he is a handful to say the least…The children’s mother lives with us also..she too is bi-polar manic depressive…It can be a very difficult life for us as the house can get quite tense..Mom works swing shift and I stay at home to take care of them all…Are there any other grandparents out there in the same boat? How do you deal with the meaness and anger that comes with the bi-polar? They are on meds but the ll y/o He is going through changes and is so angry at us because they live with us…I do not know what to tell him…I wish they had their own place too…Mom wants to live in their own place but she cannot handle the situation for long and then they are living back here..I would love to find and be able to correspond with other’s who deal with the bi-polar manic person..adult and child..I love them all so much.

    Reply
  12. vharlow (Edit) Report

    My situation is a bit different. I’m homeschooling grandkids. One clearly has personality problems, passive aggressive, and he’s almost 15. A real trial, but at the same time, he’s helpful to us older folk in many ways. The 9 year old is wonderful, sweet, smart, etc., and the 2 year old is a trial as they tend to be.

    I wouldn’t not do this for anything. I love them terribly. But I’m getting very old quickly.

    Passive aggressive behavior is difficult to spot if you see people seldom, and horrible if you live with them.

    Good luck to both of you.

    Reply
  13. Dee (Edit) Report

    Once again I can say “I’m not alone” Our situations are so similar. We are raising our grandson also who is 9 years old with adhd. He is a hand-full to say the least. I would love to have some answers to deal with our everyday trials and disruption. How do we help him to get past the anger. I took him off the meds for the summer just so he can eat and sleep like a normal child. Just knowing I’m not alone in this is helpful. I look forward the reading everyone’s blogs…

    Reply

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