“Society Still Doesn’t Recognize Grandfamilies:” Grandparents on Raising Grandkids with ADHD

ADDitude asked readers in grandfamilies — wherein grandparents serve as primary caregivers to grandchildren — about the grandfamily experience with ADHD involved.

Photo by RODNAE Productions:
Photo by RODNAE Productions:

Millions of grandparents today are directly involved in raising their grandchildren — a caregiving situation that disproportionately impacts ADHD families. A 2020 study published in Pediatrics found that children living in grandparent-led households are more likely to have ADHD than are children living in parent-led households.1

Here’s what grandparents told ADDitude about what it’s like to care for their grandkids with ADHD, including their biggest challenges, surprises, and insights on the generation gap.

ADHD Grandfamilies Sound Off

As a grandparent, I don’t fit in with anyone my own age because my peers’ children are all grown up, and parents of our grandkids are young. I’ve had people say to me, “Where are (my grandkids’) parents? Society still doesn’t recognize grandfamilies and the sacrifices we make.”

Our challenges are trying to stay current with new medication options, social media, and schools that think ADHD is a behavior issue. The worst bullies are teachers. The generation gap is hard because even though I’m healthy, it’s difficult to keep up with kids who are 50 years younger.”

The patience needed, which I’m sure a younger person would have more of, is a challenge.”

[Read: When ADHD Is All in the Family]

“We are raising a grandson who is 12 now. We had no idea of the magnitude of issues with ADHD. We’ve had to learn that he isn’t like the kids we were and grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s, and that he is going to say inappropriate and unkind things — some of which he can’t help. It has been a re-education for sure. The flip side is that we love him to pieces.”

The generation gap is a huge challenge. The world is so different and more dangerous than when I raised my children. A couple of surprises are the social media impact and bullying that tear kids apart. It’s a very tough fight to keep my grandkids emotionally well.”

I am a grandmother raising my grandson, who has ADHD. My biggest challenges are having the energy for him and handling his impulsive behavior and poor social skills. He can be very sweet but also very controlling and rude. We hope that he will learn skills to make friends and succeed in school and life.”

The lack of energy and financial resources are the biggest challenges.”

[Read: “Let Me Tell You How ADHD Runs in My Family”]

“I have less energy to do physical things, but I am way more patient and a far better parent than when I raised my own kids. I am more willing to listen and be less reactive.”

“I am a grandparent raising two grandchildren. My granddaughter has ADHD. She is not physically hyperactive, but she is mentally. She wants to be constantly busy. But at my age, I don’t always have the stamina to keep up. By the time I prepare an activity, she asks to do something else and declares everything ‘boring.’ As for surprises, when the children do unexpected kind acts, I know that I am making a difference in their lives.”

ADHD Grandfamilies: Next Steps

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