Often time’s grandparents raising grandchildren face many challenges that are not easy for them to deal with. However, grandparents raise their grandkids willingly and happily because they love them.
In an earlier post about grandparents parenting grandchildren I talked about the reasons about why grandparents have to take the place of parents. Today’s post is about the problems that most grandparents face while raising grandchildren.
A grandparent’s role in the family as a ‘grandparent’ is important, and this is something that we as parents need to understand.
To let your parents remain as grandparents, you need to lessen the amount of work your parents do for your kids, and eventually reduce the challenges faced by grandparents bringing up grandchildren, which would solve a lot of problems.
“They say genes skip generations. Maybe that’s why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable.” ~ Joan McIntosh
Difficulties Faced by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
There are many challenges for grandparents while raising grandchildren mainly because they are called upon to parent a second time around unexpectedly.
Let us try to understand some of these challenges:
1- Financial constraints
The bringing up of grandchildren by their grandparents is not an easy task where finances are concerned, if they later have to do it completely on their own.
This is because grandparents may be living on a fixed income or have no additional source of income to support the extra expenses involved.
Grandparents may not be able to afford additional costs associated with raising a child like health care, insurance, child-care, and providing for the main requirements of the child. Some of them may have to quit their jobs, make financial sacrifices, or cut back on hours.
Helpful Tip: The finance a person has varies a great deal, but here is wonderful list of possible sources for financial aid for grandparents involved in bringing up grandchildren. However, you would need to check out if they are available in your area.
2- Health problems
Becoming a parent again can be overwhelming for grandparents raising their grandchildren. They may not feel that they can keep up with their grandchildren due to health concerns or because the kids are very active.
Grandparents are generally old and could have chronic conditions warranting help with chores at home, and thereby may find it tough to keep up with young kids.
Due to the task of raising their grandkids, some grandparents experience health problems like hypertension, depression, insomnia, back and stomach problems, and others.
Helpful Tip: Grandparents need to take care of themselves by taking care of their health and wellness, so that they are well enough to take care of their grandchildren. You can visit this site that provides healthcare coverage and more details.
3- Mental stress
Grandparents who are raising grandkids often deal with feelings of guilt and resentment towards their own grown-up child for being the cause of the pitiable state of their grandchildren.
Most grandparents are not well prepared to handle the anger, grief, and sadness, nor are they able to handle their emotional reactions about what has happened. They feel bad for their grandkids and children if the grandchildren experience trauma and pain.
Sometimes the grandchildren act out because they don’t understand the reason for not being able to live with their parents. This often leads to behavioral problems of grandchildren that grandparents have to deal with, causing the latter mental stress.
Helpful Tip: Join support groups if you feel anger, shame or disappointment towards your grandchildren’s parents, so that you don’t take it all out on your grandchildren.
4- Social isolation
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren often do not find time for themselves due to the tight parenting schedules; neither are they left with enough time for other family members and friends, nor are they able to take part in church and community activities.
Helpful Tip: Find a trusted childcare center, babysitter, or a friend to take over so that you can socialize and move out when you wish to. Being with friends and family, and reading online magazines or other resources can help keep away depression and stress.
5- Family issues
The issue of grandparents raising some grandchildren may also cause problems with the other grandchildren in the family who are living with their own parents.
This is because the grandchildren expect their grandparents to be traditional grandparents, and not act as ‘parents’ to their cousins. Such a situation can cause rift and bitterness among the grandchildren.
Sometimes it gets tough for grandparents to manage their grandchildren’s parents, who may make unexpected visits and impractical promises.
Grandparents may also struggle with trying to protect their grandchildren, while still allowing them to visit or meet their parents. And this may disappoint grandparents to see their child not succeed as a parent.
Helpful Tip: It helps a great deal if grandparents manage to create a family bonding time to convey to everyone else in the family about why and what they are doing to clear off air of confusion or misunderstanding.
6- Housing issues
Many grandparents who are raising grandchildren often don’t live in houses with all the required facilities. Most of them live in small senior apartments, which neither have room for kids, nor allow kids. And those who do permit kids have room that may require other furnishings and beds.
Some grandparents who have to raise their grandkids choose to downsize to smaller houses with limited space in their homes in order to create facilities for their grandchildren.
Helpful Tip: Help can be found for some grandparents dealing with housing issues here.
7- Legal hassles
When grandparents take the custody of the grandchildren, then getting hold of their birth certificates and other documents, and going to the court for adoption or to get guardianship can be a long, frustrating, and expensive process.
Helpful Tip: All answers to legal aspects of raising grandchildren can be found here.
8- Education concerns
Grandparents, in order to bring up their grandchildren, may have to find out ways to help kids enroll in school. They would also have to get tutors to help with their homework, and learn more about special education and individualized education plans, which might become a cumbersome task for them.
Such grandparents may even feel out of touch with what’s happening in their grandchildren’s school, as the child care methods have changed considerably since when they were parents.
Helpful Tip: Grandparents brining up their grandkids can find help regarding educational concerns and find some good sources about school health here.
“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” ~ Rudolph Giuliani
Tips for Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren
The challenges of grandparents in raising their grandchildren may seem like a daunting and uphill task, but there is help out there in the form of support groups and provisions.
Being grandparents, they have the additional duty to bring up their grandchildren in their parent’s absence, apart from playing the role of a grandparent. Grandparents need to remember to care for their grandchildren as they may have suffered some neglect or abuse from their own parents.
These kids may feel afraid and insecure, or may be angry at their situation, or could even be embarrassed to talk about it. They may take some time to feel safe and secure.
Though grandparents are familiar with parenting children, the fact is that was a long time ago. So, grandparents who have to raise grandchildren might find these tips handy:
- Plan out a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities so that the kids learn to have some certainty in their lives.
- Make them feel at home by giving them a place to call their own, like giving them a room for them and their belongings. Make your home welcoming, safe, and child-friendly for them.
- Take special care of younger grandkids by providing nutritious food, and read to them every day.
- Keep the immunization of your grandkids up-to-date.
- Communicate with your grandchildren and ensure they know they can talk to you when they feel like, because poor communication leads to relationship problems later in life.
- Help grandchildren practice safety by catering to the needed equipment, and be a role model in every act of habit, like always eat your meals on the table, or buckle the seat belts, etc.
- Make a few rules, explain it to the children, and enforce them consistently but lovingly.
- Where the grandchildren’s parents are concerned, set a good example by peacefully working out argument.
- Seek out appropriate services as soon as possible, if the grandchild has special needs.
- Monitor movie, music, television, and the use of computers used by grandchildren.
- Most importantly, make the grandchild feel loved, important, and cared for. And don’t forget to spend good family time with them.
These tips serve as a recap for grandparents, but they can be handy for any parent, and to-be parents, as it’s all about good parenting.
Becoming a parent once again can be a tiring and challenging task for grandparents raising grandchildren. It can also be a memorable and rewarding time if resources are used and support groups are utilized.
Research indicates that perhaps grandparents who are raising their grandchildren make better parents than they did when they were parents themselves, because they are now more emotionally stable, mature, and willing to sacrifice much more.
Resources for Grandparents Bringing Up Grandchildren
There is a wonderful article about grandparents who are raising grandchildren and which tells about how grandparents can cope and succeed.
Grandparents can visit sites here and here for more help and information to achieve their aim of successfully raising their grandchildren.
“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” ~ Lois Wyse
As a grandparent you should be proud of your accomplishments in raising your grandchildren and they may be a wonderful source of happiness for you. And of course they would learn to love, respect, and value your sacrifice much more when they grow up.
Speaking of my parents, who are wonderful grandparents to my kids – they do all in their hands to make their lives worth-while, whenever we visit them. Thus, my kids always love to go to their grandparent’s place more than wanting to stay with us!
I salute all grandparents as well as grandparents who are devoted in raising their grandchildren, who have taken up this wonderful responsibility, which is not an easy task. Such grandparents are truly the ones who deserve to be called “grand”! (I know you’re nodding in agreement!)
Over to you–
As grandparents raising grandchildren or parenting once again, what are the challenges that you face or had faced? If you are a parent or have fond memories of your grandparents raising you, feel free to share your personal experiences and views in the comment below.
Photo Credit: Amy Mckenzie