A grandparent’s lifetime travel often takes an unplanned detour when he or she becomes a grandchild’s parent. No matter how much you love your grandchildren, raising them comes with a lot of challenges and rewards.
Some Facts on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Grandparents also take on the role of parent in an attempt to hold their families together and keep their grandchildren out of the foster care system. This may happen when a parent experiences drug abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, or other long-term health problems. A parent may be stationed overseas in the military. A parent may also be killed in some tragic situations.
Increasing numbers of grandparents, also known as “kinship care,” are now playing a parental role for their grandchildren, ignoring the conventional grandparent / grandchild relationship. Often this means giving up your free time, traveling choices, and a few other aspects of your freedom.
Raising up a second generation offers other benefits, such as bringing a sense of protection to grandchildren, building a deeper friendship and bringing the family together. But this “grandfamily” arrangement can also pose a number of challenges: grandparents and grandchildren can also feel rage, tension, or frustration – that’s all natural.
Children may act or disobey their grandparents. They may be dealing with emotional problems and grievances, especially those of their parents who died. Children may be distressed if their parents or other people have abused or harmed them in their lives before coming to the care of their grandparents. Grandparents may lack endurance and stamina, often struggling with financial issues.
The good news is that raising your grandchildren will give you an opportunity to make a huge difference in their lives. There are many ways to get support, maintain good communication and take care of yourself along the way and here are just a few great tips for grandparents raising grandchildren:
Tip 1: Recognize your thoughts.
A spectrum of emotions is expected to cause the prospect of raising grandchildren. It is important to remember positive feelings, including the love you have for your grandchildren, the happiness of watching them learn and develop and the satisfaction of giving them a safe life. It’s harder to accept emotions like anger, remorse, or fear. It’s important to understand and embrace what you feel, positive as well as negative. Don’t beat yourself for your misgivings and questions. This is only natural that at a time when you believed your obligations to be dwindling, you have some ambivalence about child rearing. Such emotions don’t mean you’re not loving your grandchildren.
Every now and then you can feel negative factors like tension, rage, frustration, guilt and grief. If you’ve been used to a grandchild’s occasional visit, being back on the saddle in full time can feel exhausting and daunting. You’re going to be concerned about how you’re going to handle the extra duties and what’s going to happen to your grandchildren if you don’t. You can feel anger or resentment towards the parents of the grandchild for having left you responsible for caring for their child. Or perhaps you’re resentful of other friends enjoying the retirement you once pictured.
Tip 2: Look out for yourself.
Make sure you have the time yourself. Find a reliable child care facility, or a relative to take over while you’re running, napping or relaxing. Your grandchild’s school will provide child care before or after school. Just don’t get lost! Make sure you’re in touch with friends in the neighborhood or at the church. Listening to their ears and helping hands can help prevent stress and distress. If you don’t take care of your well-being, you won’t be able to take care of your grandchildren. Consider eating healthy food, exercising regularly and having enough sleep. Don’t allow a doctor’s appointment or a prescription to slip.
Tip 3: Know that your grandchildren too will have mixed feelings.
It’s never easy to move into a new home, except in the best of circumstances. Transfer becomes much more difficult when children deal with a lack of daily communication with their parents or parents. It will take some time for your grandchildren to adapt, and they may, in the meantime, behave in a particularly conflicting and difficult way. Your grandchildren may regret being separated from their parents and wanting to return, even if they were at risk or abusive at home. Don’t take it in person. The relationship between the parent and the child is strong. Even if the children are old enough to realize that they’re better off with you, they’re always going to miss their parents and struggle with their feelings of abandonment.
Tip 4: Create a stable and predictable environment as possible.
Although it will take time for your grandchildren to adapt to their new living environment, there are steps you can take to make the adjustment easier. First and foremost, your grandchildren need to feel secure. Children thrive in a climate that is safe and predictable. This involves setting up and keeping to a routine schedule. Seek to set up a routine that will benefit both you and your grandchild, such as preparing meals together. You’ll learn useful skills, give you an extra pair of helping hands, and if they’ve helped train, they’ll be more likely to eat their vegetables.
Tip 5: Encourage an open and honest communication.
Communicating with your grandkids frankly and genuinely is one of the best things you can do to help them deal with their current circumstance. It is especially important that you take the time to really listen to your grandchildren. In this difficult time, they need an adult who can deal with their questions, concerns and feelings. Respect the rules, customs and consequences that they have to suggest. If you are sensitive, compassionate, and respectful, they are much more likely to be transparent with you about their everyday lives and emotions. It might take them a while to open- up to you; leave the door open!
Tip 6: Decide how to administer discipline.
Start with a short, basic set of rules and make sure that children know why these rules are vital to their health and well-being. Then be clear – you’re going to follow the rules just like the kids do. Rather than spanking or hitting, which might teach your grandchildren how to use aggression to solve their own problems, use timeouts or acceptable rewards and behavioral consequences to instill a sense of discipline.
It’s not an easy job to raise a grandchild, but it can definitely be something to be proud of and even prove to be the most rewarding achievement of your life. Your grandchildren can be a source of wonderful and unforeseen joy.