- Family and Parenting
Grandparents raising grandchildren
What if raising a grandchild was the last thing that you expected for your life?
Grandparents parenting grandchildren are big words for a very common lifestyle. There are many grandparents raising grandchildren. This is not new. The only difference between those grandparents who raised grandchildren in the past and those of us today is that it often requires legal assistance and is gets much more attention by the media. In the past, grandparents simply raised the children, often without the legal issues that we face today.
What does it mean to raise your grandchild? It means that you don't get to be a grandparent. It means that your plans for retirement have flown out the window. It means that if your joints don't work, you don't get time to apply Bengay. It means that you will lose friends who don't want kids around and you will be busier than you expected. It cuts into the budget and can be a struggle.
We were in the judge's chamber. We signed the adoption paper and because he was 5-yrs-old and could sign his name, he signed them too. His new birth certificate shows us as the parents. There is no record of his birth parents, he is our child.
We were lucky, we held him when he was just minutes old. We waited a long time to be grandparents but the circumstances changed the dynamics. The coveted role of grandparent is gone. We are the parents and the preconceived ideas of being his grandparent have changed.
As grandparents, we would have spoiled him and sent him back to his parents. He would have gone to Grandma's house to spend a week or two. We would have done the fun things that his parents did not have time to do. He would have traveled with us on fantastic vacations.
In our new family, we go to school and church plays. We joined the baseball board. School and sports have taken away the time we used to travel. We do homework every day and when we don't do homework, we go to baseball practice and games.
We hang out with younger people because the parents of his friends are the same age as his birth parents. Our friends do not spend much time with us because they are free to go where they choose. It's a balancing act.
What is the upside? Your life will be richer and fuller than most people your age. You will be more tech savvy than most of your friends. You get to spend more time outdoors. It means that you can still do math in your head and have had to relearn all the grammar rules. While people commend you for doing something unselfish, you know that raising your grandchild has done more for you than it has for your grandchild. That's not something you share because it's nice to be thought of as noble.
The identity issue - Who are you?
Raising grandchildren takes away the coveted role of grandparent. While others with grandchildren talk about when they come to visit and all the fun things they do together, your role does not allow those activities. You are the one who corrects the behavior and makes them do the homework. You get to save up the memories of really cute behavior and appreciate it when you're alone because it may not have been something that was appropriate at the time. Instead of smiling inwardly, it needed to be addressed.
They may call you mom and dad and you lose the title of grandma or grandpa. So who are you? You are the parents, period. The only true grandparenting time is when they are sick, sad or just want to snuggle. That's when you hold them closer and hug them harder. This is the baby of your baby.
Helpful books on grandparents parenting grandchildren
These are all great books. Every grandparent feels overwhelmed at time and these books can help overcome issues. While there is a lot of information for parents, when it comes to parenting again many years later, there is not as much information.
The age issue - being older
Coping with an age difference of more than 50 years
The children are aware that you are older. They may even make remarks. If you think about it, we asked our parents if dirt had been invented before they were born. Some children may make remarks about your age to your grandchild. Yes, he or she will defend you but there are ways around it. Show up at school, volunteer and be visible. Soon the kids forget that you are older and the issue goes away.
We are blessed with adequate health which is helpful for the twice a week baseball practice and the twice a week baseball games. We spend more time outside in the heat and the cold.
Can grandpa still coach, does grandma need to be a team mother? Get the child involved in sports or some sort of outside activity. Be an active participant in the activity. It may be hard to get around but you will find that being involved keeps you moving and that's important as you age.
The best chair for outdoor sports - Baseball when it's hot and baseball when it's cold. Ahh, the joys of adopting a grandchild.
I add this as a grandparent raising a grandchild. If you are going to be involved in outdoor activities, it is important to have a comfortable chair. The Coleman oversize chair is comfortable, easy to carry and makes a huge difference. It is the only chair I will use.
What's in it for me?
Let's face it, your life as you know it is over. It has been replaced by one where you get to make a real difference in the life of a child. Given the alternative, this is a very important decision and not one that should be taken lightly. It comes with it's own built in set of problems. You also get to deal with the grandchild's parents which may at times be overwhelming. What you eventually find is that it is a role that you were probably meant to share with the child. Look at this kid. This is why we do it.
The meaning of a family unit has evolved. While it still is a two-parent family, there is the obvious absence of the parents in the middle.
Internet Support Groups for Grandparents raising Grandchildren
The USA.gov site has a list of websites for all kinds of help from financial to emotional issues.
- Grandparents raising Grandchildren
If you take care of grandchildren, find grandparent programs in your state and get information about benefits, assistance, and more.