Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
How Can I Be a Parent Again?
No one expects to take care of their grandchildren, but circumstances do not always go the way we plan. Divorce, mental and physical illness, or even death can make grandparents raising grandchildren necessary. This can be a challenge for grandparents who are older and do not have the same amount of energy they had when raising their children. Thankfully, there are ways to adjust and cope with this sometimes-difficult situation.
At Grandparenting A to Z, we created an online community to help grandparents create a living legacy with their grandchildren. Below are a few tips to help any grandparent who finds themself raising a grandchild or grandchildren.
Create a Stable Environment
The most common reason children come to live with their grandparents is due to an unstable living situation involving their parents. This means the grandparent’s living environment is already considered better for the child. Now, the grandparents raising the grandchildren must maintain this stable living environment. This could prove difficult since many grandparents are retired and living on a fixed income.
Here are a few options for grandparents who want to maintain their home life:
- Talk to a financial advisor: A financial advisor may be able to help you move around your investments and retirement in a way that makes taking on your grandchildren a possibility.
- Reenter the workforce: Some may face the prospect of having to come out of retirement. In these instances, checking with your former employer may be a good start. You may also be able to find a new position considering the current job market.
- Support groups: There are government programs meant to help provide support for seniors who find themselves back in the parenting role. You can also ask about grandparenting support groups at your local place of worship. Churches, synagogues and other religious organizations often have programs to help their congregations.
- Create Safety and Security: Set up a daily routine, clear rules and stick to the schedule and rules. This will help provide a safe space for your grandchild.
The circumstances that led to you caring for your grandchildren may leave raw feelings. Very likely, your grandchildren are dealing with emotions that are just as strong. This can lead to behavior issues, arguments and trouble at school. To prevent or deal with such behavior, it may be wise to establish a channel of open communication with your grandkids. Help your grandchildren feel at home by making sure they know they can always talk to you. Try using positive discipline and praise children for good behavior.
Set aside time for you and your grandchild to talk about their day without distractions like cellphones, computers and television. Have you ever read a story to your grandchild? Take up that habit again.
Care For Yourself
As mentioned earlier, you may not be as spry now as you were when rearing your children, but do not let that discourage you. Keeping your health up will help keep your grandchildren happy and healthy as well. Keep up with your doctor’s visits and medications. An illness caught early is an illness that doesn’t have a chance to leave a lasting effect.
Continue with your favorite hobbies and what you do to relax. These activities are far more reenergizing than simply plopping down on the couch to watch TV. If you can, involve your grandkids in these recreational activities. You may find the chance to connect over a similar passion.
Depending on how old your grandchildren are, you may also be able to rely on them for some help. Assign out some chores around the house: washing dishes, cleaning the living room, taking out the trash. Don’t overdo it, but you may be surprised just how much your grandchildren can really do.
What Your Grandchildren Need
Possibly the most important thing to remember is that your grandkids are coping with this change just as much as you are. Talk to them, see how they are feeling and take action if they need help. Remember the grandparent support groups we mentioned earlier? You can find childcare support groups too. Even parenting groups can be helpful in times like this, especially when you need to find a babysitter. Rely on your community.
You Can Do This! And Grandparenting A to Z Can Help
Grandparents are a resilient bunch, and they have years of experience to draw upon that they did not have when they were young parents. Use that knowledge to your advantage, and you may find you have a leg up on modern parents.
And if you are still having issues, remember to seek out the support you need. Our Resources Page is a great place to start learning about being a grandparent. We also have a blog and a monthly newsletter to help you with tips and activities that will help you be the best grandparent you can be.