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ADHD through my eyes as a Grandfather

One way to quickly find out if a subject that you are particularly interested in is popular is to let a search engine like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or Quora find recent references. When I looked to see whether this subject was common or prominent, it’s pretty apparent that my topic of grandparenting kids with ADHD is hardly ever discussed, certainly not nearly as often as questions about parenting or teaching children with the disorder.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems a bit strange to me for many reasons. Firstly, more people should be aware that ADHD is primarily an inherited disorder. It means that there is a strong possibility that if you have a member of your family diagnosed with this disorder, you and other members of your extended family could share some of the characteristics. Being aware of this makes me more sensitive to signs in myself, my partner, my children and all my other grandchildren that could indicate some level of ADHD. If so, they could benefit from a more appropriate and sensitive response to them.

My second thought is that grandparents usually have a very different kind of relationship with their grandchildren than parents and teachers do. Putting it as simply as I can, I firmly believe that grandparents and grandchildren have a much simpler, less complex and “purer” relationship – I am almost tempted to say it’s a more “loving” relationship, but maybe that could be taken up the wrong way.

Parents and teachers have more essential degrees of responsibility toward the children in their care. This may require exercising controls and disciplines that can lead to levels of resentment and even rebellion that can exacerbate the problems brought on by ADHD. 

A classic grandparent/grandchild relationship is more open and unstructured because there is less responsibility and more freedom. I know from my own interactions with my grandkids (eight boys and three girls – bless every one of them) that we relate to each other on a very different level from what I did with my own parents when I was growing up, and what I did with my children when they were young.

When it comes to dealing with the situations created by a child with ADHD, I know that I can use a different approach in my limited periods of contact from what their parents and teachers are required to do in their daily routines. We relate in a different way – much more relaxed and unrestricted. I also believe that the grandchildren who have to cope with the disruptions caused by the disorder see my wife and me in a different light from how they consider their parents and teachers. We can be something like a haven of quiet and comfort that lifts some of the disruptive effects off their shoulders, and lets them enjoy a brief period of normalcy.

Thirdly, I also know that it is my duty as a grandparent to be fully informed about what are the signs, symptoms and causes of ADHD. For this to happen, I have read many of the scientific journals and responsive websites that talk about ADHD. I strongly believe that anyone who has a family member showing any of the typical signs of the disorder should take it upon themselves to learn more. In this way, you can infuse your relationship with your grandchildren with meaningful love that will help you and them enjoy your time together more.

I am trying over the next few months to say some more about my real-life experiences with my grandkids, hoping that anyone who reads these words gains some further insight into what I believe is possible for grandparents to do to help.

Written by Henry Kaye

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