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Grandparent vs Grand-Parenting

Updated on May 21, 2015
Sonjia Upshaw profile image

Sonjia is a retired Literature instructor. She runs a piano/voice studio and has taken up writing to encourage others as her new passion.

GET THAT KID OFF THE TRACKS!!

So...you swooped in and took responsibility for the care of your grandchild.
Way to go!

Now, imagine for a moment that your grandchild was sitting on the railroad tracks and you heard the train whistle blowing. Would you warn them to get off the tracks? Or would you hesitate, worried that they might think you were being overprotective? If they ignored your warning, would you quickly move them to a safe place? Of course you would! Your love for that child would override all other considerations. You would value their life more than her temporary goodwill.

In the 21st century, incredible challenges and unimaginable temptations are coming at our grandchildren with the speed and power of a freight train. Grand-parenting is not at popularity contest. It is a full time watchman's job and we can't let our guard down or allow our emotions to override our resolve to protect these precious jewels.

Parenting grandchildren is not the same as parenting your own children. New skills need to be developed by most grandparents on how to deal with emotionally battered or neglected children to dealing with the other adults who may or may not be a part of the everyday challenge. When push comes to shove, it is our responsibility to get these kids we love so dearly "off the tracks" before their lives and futures are destroyed.

"Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm." - Joe Clark

In fact, the only protection for enthusiasm is discipline.

As an educator of middle and high school students in both public and private school for 25 years, it has been my displeasure to watch strong, consistent discipline march right out the door. It has been replaced with entitled children parented by preoccupied adults. According to the U.S. 2010 Census, there were more than 2.7 million households with grandparents raising their grandchildren which means many of these children are in homes where the primary care provider is not Mom or Dad, but it is grandparents just like you and me.

It takes great courage to get back in the parenting saddle, and the ride can get rough. The fine balance of love, nurture, and correction can be difficult. While age may not be in our favor, we have the distinct advantage of experience. We have already made the journey and seen the end results. Times have changed, but there are some principles of discipline that still yield positive results....even in the 21st century.

Our New Responsibility....Grand-Parenting

As we stand in the role of primary care provider, we take on a responsibility given to us by God, to train up these children. That responsibility does not belong to the school or even the church. When we brought them home, the responsibility came along with them. Therefore, we must take the role of leader and authority with confidence knowing that it is God-ordained that we do so.

This article is best received by born-again believers who trust the Word of God and are willing to apply it in every area of their lives, especially when caring for children. Being a grandparent and grand-parenting are two very different things. The joy of grandparents is knowing the little darlings will soon be returned to their own parents which leaves us free to love -- and spoil a bit -- without the full time responsibility of meeting all their needs. The challenge of grand-parenting is that at the end of the day -- every day -- we are the parent.

More often than not, we may have had no mental, emotional, or financial preparation when we began raising these children. It can be daunting. We may be young grandparents in our 40's, retired grandparents living on social security, or anywhere in-between. Whatever our differences may be we all have one commonality. We are raising children that we had most likely not expected to be raising. We made a choice and the responsibility is now ours.

The Grand-Parenting Toolbox

Believe it or not, you probably already have these in your parenting toolbox. I will let you in on a little secret....they still work!

TOOL #1 - AN EARLY START
If you get them when they are babes, get busy loving, nurturing, and disciplining those little angels. Children can quickly become great manipulators. The way you respond to that manipulation sets the tone for the rest of your life together. Children need to learn to obey as soon as possible. They need to show a proper attitude in obedience as well. Ephesians 6:1, 2 says that children should obey and honor their parents. It is one thing to obey (do what they are told), but they also need to do it with honor. This is something they need to be taught early.

TOOL #2 - BE CONSISTENT
The Bible says not to frustrate or provoke children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4). This is done when a child has no idea what is expected of him. Lack of consistency is frustrating. Keep that in mind and strive each day not to do that to your grandchild. Remember that the situation is not ideal to begin with and if you give Satan an open door, he will waltz right in and dismantle all you have worked to build.

TOOL #3 - THE ROD OF CORRECTION
They kept me out of jail, taught me to respect authority, and reinforced the importance of following rules -- I am referring to the spankings I received as a child. There are times when spanking is needed and appropriate. When appropriate, and necessary, you should apply the rod of correction in a consistent way. The Bible talks about using a rod which could also be a belt, wooden spoon or other appropriate paddle. I recommended that you use something other than your hand. Your grandchildren should think of your hands as something that is used for love and tenderness.

TOOL #4 - A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Don’t dread discipline. Discipline is respectful to your grandchild and the world they will grow up to impact. Being positive does not mean you need to look forward to every opportunity to spank them you can get. It may not be fun at the moment, but the result is far more enjoyable (a well-behaved, godly child) than the alternative. God's Word reminds us that even He disciplines those He loves as a reminder that our futures are of great importance to Him. This is the same attitude we must have as grandparents.


My "Grand-Parenting" Testimony

Where joy and sorrow meet...
The day I brought him home from the hospital - 6 months old with a cast on his broken leg - was a day of great joy and great sorrow. It did get better as time went by. A choice had to be made and I choose to keep my grandson in the family rather than loose him in the system or in foster care. I spent my childhood in that system and it was not pretty. I made the choice to keep him and raise him until his mother decided what she was going to do with her life. No mother could love a daughter more than I do, but at the end of the day, this was about my grandson and his well-being. This is a sentiment that becomes reality with time and experience.

I made a huge sacrifice when it came to my life style and adjustments had to be made. Yet I ask, what is true love if there is not a price to be paid and a sacrifice to be made? I have raised him from the age of 6 months and he just celebrated his ninth birthday in March. God is doing amazing things and I seek His face on behalf of my grandson and his mother. I am not sure how it will all end, but the future is in the Lord's hands as it should be. Because I am a single grandmother, I make sure my grandson is surrounded by strong male role models, lots of discipline, and an abundance of love. I am more than a grandparent, I am grand-parenting!

Grand-Parenting Tips

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS - The prospect of raising grandchildren is bound to trigger a range of emotions. Positive emotions, like the love you feel for your grandchildren, the joy in seeing them learn and grow, and relief at giving them a stable environment, are easy to acknowledge. It’s more difficult to admit to feelings such as resentment, guilt, or fear. It’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling, both good and bad.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - You probably were not expecting to be raising kids again at this stage in your life. At times, the physical, emotional, and financial demands may feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s vitally important that you take care of yourself and get the support you need.

GRANDKIDS WILL HAVE MIXED FEELINGS - Moving to a new home is never easy, even in the best of circumstances. When children are dealing with the loss of regular contact with their parent or parents, the move is even harder. It will take some time for your grandchildren to adjust, and in the meantime, they may act especially contrary and difficult.

CREATE A STABLE ENVIRONMENT - While it will take your grandkids time to adjust to their new living arrangement, there are things you can do to make the transition easier. Above all, your grandchildren need to feel secure. Children thrive in an environment that is stable and predictable. Establish a routine. Set-up clear, age appropriate rules for the sake of consistency.

ENCOURAGE CONTACT WITH PARENTS - It is not always possible for children to remain in contact with their parents, and at times, it may not be in a child’s best interest. But in general, it is good for your grandchildren to maintain relationships with their parents, especially if they may live with them again. If meeting in person isn’t possible, you can encourage contact in other ways, including phone calls, cards and letters, and email.

ENCOURAGE OPEN COMMUNICATION - Communicating openly and honestly with your grandchildren is one of the best things you can do to help them cope with their new situation. It’s especially important to take the time to really listen to your grandkids. In this difficult time, they need an adult they can go to with their questions, concerns, and feelings.

- excerpts from Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: The Rewards and Challenges of Parenting the Second Time Around

Grandparents as Parents (GAP)

Help is Out There

"Raising grandchildren can be a tremendous challenge. Grandparent caregivers need to develop a support system to help them with the many tasks at hand. It's also important for grandparents to take good care of themselves so they can stay mentally and physically healthy enough to do the job."

Raising Grandchildren - SUPPORT

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    • Sonjia Upshaw profile image
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      Sonjia Upshaw 2 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Amen to that Betty. We have been given a unique challenge, and an amazing privilege. I did not see this happening in my life, but I thank God for equipping me for the journey...my grandson is worth it! Be blessed and encouraged!

    • profile image

      Betty Cornelius 2 years ago

      I call it the club none of us wanted to join however I would do it all over in a minute....my granddaughter was well worth it.

    • Sonjia Upshaw profile image
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      Sonjia Upshaw 2 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Thank you Ms. Dora for your words of encouragement. It is my desire to share what God has allowed me to learn through my life experiences. My hope is that it will help others in the same situation.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      "The only protection for enthusiasm is discipline." Amen to that. I also want to express my admiration for you, owning such wise insights, though not being raised in an ideal family. Folk should listen to you!