Grandparents Raising Grandchildren-Committed Love
Love Comes Gently To A Hurting Heart
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Dreams of sweet and loving grandchildren sustain us through the up all night fevers and teenage angst of the fruit of our loins. The dramas of bad grades, broken friendships, pimples and dating are replaced in our minds by the hopeful dreams of drooling grins, reaching arms and lisping voices gleefully shouting “Grandma!”
Sadly, I would even say tragically, more and more grandparents are having this dream stripped from them by becoming the primary caregiver for one or all of their grandchildren. This is an unnatural and painful situation for everyone involved. The child is unsettled; frightened by the upheaval and often traumatized by the circumstances leading up to the transfer of custody. The grandparent is worried and concerned for their own child as well as the grandchild.
Many times police and Social Services have been involved and that adds even more stress and uncertainty to the situation. These departments are staffed with well meaning people trying to do their job, get this case settled and move on to the next one. The result is a trail of bewildered people trying to pick up the pieces of lives littered by those who are supposed to fix the problems, but who have left screwdrivers and hammers behind with an instruction booklet the size of War and Peace and a word to DIY.
The grandparent who finds him or herself in this precarious predicament will struggle to gain balance in all areas of this new life and to become a parent all over again. Times have certainly changed since our own children were small. One may even have to return to work or work longer hours to support the new dependent. That in itself brings up the subject of daycare, a whole other subject worthy of its own post. How to choose a daycare provider who can be trusted with our treasures takes much research and prayer.
Many states have daycare assistance programs and many grandparents will qualify for this resource. Reduced or even free daycare benefits are an incredible blessing. The old failsafe, a Google search, can provide quick results and a list of telephone numbers to call. One may wish to start here:
National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center
10530 Rosehaven St., Suite 400 • Fairfax, VA 22030 | Phone: (800) 616-2242 • Fax: (800) 716-2242 • TTY: (800) 516-2242
NCCIC is a service of the Child Care Bureau (CCB), Office of Family Assistance (OFA), Administration for Children and Families(ACF), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
I strongly suggest a grandparent who is providing a home for one or all grandchildren avail him or herself of all resources. These are hard to find in a regulated form other than some state or federal financial benefits. And finances are just pin point of our needs. School age grandchildren need structure, homework help, social integration and a safe environment to start this new life.
The school system and even the way homework is done is an alien world to a grandparent. Thankfully, many online resources are available. Your child’s school website is a great place to start. Others that are highly recommended are teacher friendly and your child’s teacher can refer several. Some that I use are:
Thousands exist. It just takes time and effort to find the ones that are right for you and your child.
Time is one more area that will be in short supply. To dedicate oneself to the care of a young child requires a total lifestyle change. After a long day, many hours of work remain before rest time comes. Preparing meals takes a lot of this time.
Healthy, well prepared and presented meals are even more important for the child who has suffered a life change. The circumstances that occurred to cause him or her to be with the grandparent were obviously not ideal. The care and feeding of the young one may have been neglected also and fast food or cold sandwiches may have been provided for sustenance. Teaching a child to eat healthy, nutritious meals may be another challenge for you to overcome. A child who has never been required to sit down for family meals and thinks French fries are a vegetable will be reluctant to try spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. There are creative ways to introduce new foods to your dinner table. Some of my favorites are to puree spinach, squashes, corn, peas and beans and add them to spaghetti sauce. They can also be mixed into the child’s favorite foods without him or her noticing.
Bedtime can be challenging for caregiver and child. Sometime children can associate dangerous times from their previous life with bedtime and may be frightened. Also, it seems they tend to miss their parent more at this time. No matter what a parent has done to a child, he still desires to be with them, especially the mother. This is natural and a God designed bond between parent and child. Never, ever speak badly about the parent. Also, never lie to a child. It will come back to cause more heartache. Answer as simply and truthfully as possible and redirect the conversation. Get in the habit of reading to the child at bedtime, even if they are older. This is a bonding time that should never be wasted.
Pray with and for your child. Let him or her hear you thanking God for them and for this time together. Yes, I said your child. This is now your child as well as your grandchild. This time of change and pain also brings much joy and another chance to parent. This is not an indictment to “do it better”, but to enjoy it more and to relish every moment. The day’s woes, cares and weariness fall away when little arms slip around your neck and baby breaths whisper love to you. When you finally fall into bed exhausted, you will know you are doing well and seeing clearly all facets of this great commission of being a grandparent raising grandchildren!
There is so much to this topic that it clearly cannot be covered in a single article. I will be adding more to this Grandparents Raising Grandchildren hub in the days and weeks to come. Please come back. I hope my life experience may help you in your own life adjustment.
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