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Grandparents Raising Their Grandkids -Trials and Tribulations

Parenting for the Second Time Does Have Its Rewards and Its Challenges

 

More often than not it’s the grandparents that step in when for some reason the parents can’t be around.  This results in grandparents raising their grandkids.  I’m not going to lie when we as grandparents have to raise our grandkids we are brought into many great rewards.

These rewards include your grandkids knowing they are secure, you are building a great relationship and at the end of the day and very important you are keeping a family together.  The second part to rewards is that it also comes with a lot of hard ships.

It doesn’t matter how you lived before.  Once you welcome your grandkids in then everything instantly changes.  However we know that you love your grandkids so with some good support and some fair rules we can do a great job raising our grandkids.

Be Aware Of Your Feelings

 

There will be lots of trying times and when you even think of everything that’s involved in raising your grandkids it’s sure to bring out a lot of emotions.  Of course there will be a lot of positive emotions.  Love is a huge emotion and likely the biggest towards your grandkids.  You get to be around when they grow and for everything they end up learning.  You are also in peace of mind that you know you have given them a safe environment to live in.

The difficult parts that in most cases you never want to admit to is you may feel a bit of resentment, guilt and even in cases you might be scared.

The key to all of this is you need to be aware of the things you are feeling.  Some of the feelings may be good and some may be mad but either way you need to be aware.  Don’t feel guilty for any of the bad feelings.  It’s going to be natural that you have some feelings of resentment since you first thought you were long past the days of raising kids.

These feelings are very natural and by no means do they mean you love your grandkids any less than you ever had.

The Feelings You May Have

 

You are used to only seeing your grandchild now and then and then all of a sudden just like that the kids are there full time.  Of course you are going to feel some stress and quite a bit of worry.  When you take a look around and see the big picture you are going to feel overwhelmed.  So much is new.  You know this is what you have to do but inside you are worried that you aren’t sure how to handle everything that’s going to come at you as grandparents raising their grandkids.

You’re going to feel bits of resentment mixed with anger-There are a few ways you might feel resentment and one of those ways are towards the parents who should be responsible and be taking care of the kids instead of you.

Another form of resentment may come towards your friend because they are enjoying retirement and you know that’s where you should have been.

Guilt-There are going to be tons of feelings and one of those are going to be guilt.  Because you are going to feel like it’s your fault that your kids can’t take care of their own kids for whatever reason it may be.

Grief-Bringing your grandkids to live with you can develop overwhelming feelings of grief.  Simply because in a heartbeat your independence as a grandparent is taken away and replaced with you being the person who gives all or most of the care. Another reason for grief is you may end up grieving for your grandkids because of all the stuff they are going through.

Being overwhelmed will happen…….

You will quickly realize that physically you just don’t have the energy like you did the first time you were a parent but you have something you didn’t have back then and that’s wisdom and experience.  You have everything that it takes to make sure your grandchild grows up safely and confident.  You have already made all the mistakes and should have learned from them.  Just because you can’t beat them in a foot race doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer.

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Taking Care of Yourself Is So Important

 

You have heard of grandparents raising their grandkids but I bet you never thought you would be one of those.  When you mix everything together things can become very overwhelming.  While you are there to take care of your grandkids that won’t happen if you don’t take care of yourself first. That may even include getting support from wherever you need to.

When things all of a sudden change and all your time goes towards raising your grandkids it’s pretty easy to forget that you have needs.  This means you must take care of yourself.  This isn’t an option but a must.  Maybe you need to get some help with taking care of your house to give you a little breathing room.  Being totally exhausted does nothing for your grandkids.  You need to be calm and focused to make sure your grandkids get the best care possible.  To get to that point you need to make sure you are ok.

If you stay healthy there is a great chance your grandchildren will stay healthy.  To take care of the grandkids you first need to take care of you.  Eating properly is important, make sure you get the right exercise and get sleep.  Also make sure you go to your Dr. appointments and take any medications that you may need.

You might think that a bit of you time is a luxury.  Well you are wrong because you time is a must.  At the end of the day you need to find some time or else you will burn yourself out.  Do things that really get your juices flowing and I guarantee just watching TV won’t do that.

Another thing to be aware of is your grandkids can actually help in many cases.  You need to give them credit because kids can be very resourceful.  Kids can have chores like cleaning up after themselves.  Not only would this help you but it’s a feel good situation for your grandkids.

 

Support Truly Is a Must

 

It’s a proven fact that grandparents who seek out support can cope much better with the stress of becoming parents for the second time.

Have someone to talk to about the things you are going through.  It’s nice to have a chance to deal with your feelings.  It’s nice to be able to accept the position you are in.  It’s better to let this happen as opposed to hiding your feelings.  Eventually this will catch up to you and will very likely make your relationship with your grandkids very tried.

You need to find support groups about grandparents raising their grandkids.  In times like this any kind of support can be very helpful.  You are on a journey where you will need friends with similar interests and fates.  This can help you keep a smile on your face; can give you help with suggestions and a shoulder to lean on.

It’s okay to ask for help for childcare.  This may be people in your community, church or other organizations that you may be involved with.  Set up play dates, talk with other parents, and attend story times at the library.  Maybe your neighborhood has some reliable teens who are interested in some babysitting.

Even if you feel like you come from a different time you should still to try and get together with parents of other children.  No matter of age some very good bonds can still be formed.  Just take your time and if you are confident everything will come together.

 

Think About Your Grandkids Feelings

 

Even if the situation feels perfect and you have done your best to make sure the circumstances are the best they can be a move like this can still be very stressful.  It’s going to take time for you and your grandkids to adjust.  While that is happening things can be very difficult.  There is a good chance the kids have suffered from things like neglect and emotional traumas.  It’s going to take a while for these feelings to actually go away.  Healing is something that will always take time.

Even if things were bad with their parents the kids may not completely understand this.  Because of that they may be resentful at being taken from their home and parents.  No matter how bad things get bonds between parents and kids are still very strong.  Even if the kids are old enough to understand it can still prove to be very trying.  What’s important is you understand and don’t take any of this personally.

The grandkids feelings are going to come out and in most cases they will come out in many different ways.  The one big way is how they behave.  There is a good chance they are going to try and push you away.  They will do this by acting aggressive and so forth.

Regardless of how they behave you still need to keep them feeling comfortable.  Many times you are going to have to bite your tongue because getting angry will just work against you.  You have to remember everything they have been through.  They are going to have a lot of negative feelings and that is going to be your job to deal with those.

This may seem weird but most of the time kids will act out where they feel safe.  It may feel like the grandkids want nothing to do but honestly that’s not the case.  All this means is they feel safe enough to show emotion and that is a good thing.

There is what’s called the honeymoon moment.  That just means when the grandkids first get to your place they will be on their best behavior.  Then out of nowhere they are going to start acting up.  You are going to feel like you are doing a bad job but in actuality it just means the kids are settling in and getting comfortable.

 

A stable environment is needed.

 

There is no doubt it’s going to take your grandkids a certain amount of time to adjust to all the new situations.  In the meantime there are some things that you can do to make things a bit easier.  The biggest thing is security.  If your grandchildren feel secure chances are they will adapt better.

Having a routine will work great in these situations.  They need to have consistent structure like bedtimes and the times you all sit down to eat.  Build situations that you guys share on a consistent basis like story time at bedtime or the park on weekends.

Make sure your grandkids know that this is now their home.  If they are old enough get them setting up their stuff in their new room so that they feel at home.  You will notice that even with that little bit of control it will make them respond in a positive manor.

I know it can feel weird setting up a bunch of rules for your grandkids but doing exactly that is a must.  What’s even more important is being sure they stick to the rules and make sure you enforce them. Believe it or not the kids will thrive better when they know their boundaries.  At least this way the expectations are clear.

It’s very important that each child that is with you has some of their own space.  Sometimes you may not have enough bedrooms but you can add dividers and so forth to give them some division and space.

You need to make the effort to guarantee them some of your time and some of your attention.  This will make your grandkids trust you so much more.  The important times of the day are always before school, after school and at bed time.

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Push the kids to be open and honest

 

If you want to help the kids adjust in a positive manor you need to focus on honest and open communication.  You need to learn to listen because they are going to usually have a lot to say.  This is a very touchy time in their lives and they have to know there is someone listening and someone they can go to with questions.

Make times to sit down and chat.  At these times make sure there are no distractions like TV or cell phones.

Be sure that the kids know they can openly talk about the things they are feeling inside their busy brains.  It is your job to listen and be neutral.  You have to be sure not to judge or ignore.  Instead you need to be able to steer in the right direction.

Sometimes your kids might have some problems communicating.  A great way to get them to open up is through playing games with them.  They will tend to express themselves through play.

If you don’t know answers to their questions don’t just make something up.  Instead it is ok to be honest and tell them you don’t know.  By no means should you ever lie or avoid the questions.

 

Your grandchildren are going to want to know things.

 

The time is going to come when you need to decide what sorts of information you are going to give to the kids about the entire situation.  A big factor in most cases of course will be age.  Below I will try and give you a few tips about this.

You are not going to want to tell the kids everything.  Plain and simple most times the kids are just too young to get what’s going on.  Telling them too much could actually make things worse than they originally were.  This is a great way to scare and confuse the kids.

In the same breath you want to make sure you don’t tell them too little.  Kids aren’t dummies and are usually much smarter than we give them credit for.  They are always listening and putting little puzzles together.  You really don’t want them to find out things from others.  This is going to make them feel deceived and could set your relationship going backwards.  This could also lead to information that isn’t even true.

No matter what you do stay away from lying to the kids.  Even in young kids most times they can tell when something is off and the truth isn’t being brought out.  Sometimes you may want to hide some of the facts in order to protect the kids.  However at the end of the day that usually never ends well.  The kids already have enough going on in life so there’s no need adding things that are going to make them go backwards.

 

Contacts with parents could be good.

 

If possible and if the situation is right it could be a very positive thing for the kids if they can maintain some sort of contact with the parents.  Of course there are times it may not be a great idea but for the most part it does have a lot of good results.  Sometimes personal meetings aren’t possible but with technology these days there are so many other ways communication can be handled.

Parent and child visits need to be smooth.

 

You may have some mixed feelings towards the parents but that is not your grandchild’s problem so you have to make sure you stay neutral and keep them out of the middle of things.  No matter how you feel never vent or say bad things in front of your grandkids.  Never ever make the kids feel bad about wanting to spend time with their parents.

It’s important to try and put feelings aside and learn to communicate with the parents of your grandchildren.  It’s all about biting your tongue sometimes.  It would be great if you can make the parents feel like a welcome part in their child’s life.  Be sure the parents follow schedules and so forth.

Of course you will be working on structure and routines.  Visits can be adapted into these routines.  It will work better for everyone involved if everyone knows what to expect.  That’s why visits should be planned well in advance.  Also it’s imperative that the parents and grandparents are on the same page when it comes to rules and enforcing them.

Kids are going to have mixed feelings when the visits happen.  You need to make sure you are sensitive to those feelings.  So many feelings will be brought up with these visits and after the visits.  In many cases the kids just don’t understand and they think that their parents have no love for them.  You need to make sure they understand this just isn’t the case.

You are going to be the child’s rock now.  Sometimes in these visits things don’t go so well and you need to be there to pick up the pieces.  Many times parents end up not showing up or leaving quickly.  No matter how much you want to don’t say negative things about the parents.  All you need to do is sit down and talk to the kids about what may have happened.

At the end of the day make sure you give lots of hugs and just make sure you make sure your grandkids know that they have a home with you for as long as it is needed. Its all about grandparents raising grandkids.

My name is Grandpa Dale and I am the author and owner of www.grandpadale.com.  Feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have at the bottom of this page.

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Dale Mazurek

6 Comments

  1. There’s quite a lot of stuff in this article that could just as easily apply to parents as well, not just grandparents raising their children’s children. Our kids have good relationships with their grandparents and, although I work from home now, they have done their fair share of babysitting over the years.

    As they’re getting older, although they’re still quite active, we only send the kids up for stay overs only very occasionally now as, well, 12 year triplets do bring trials and tribulations all of their own!

    • You are right that a lot of stuff can be geared towards parents because essentially the grandparents do become the parents.

  2. I just spent the weekend with my 2-year-old grandson and my daughter. I don’t get to see them often, but for some reason, my daughter wanted to talk about her wishes should anything ever happen to her or her husband. It’s a conversation every family should have I guess, but honestly, I cannot imagine having to step into her shoes. My husband and I would gladly rise to the occasion, but it wouldn’t be without challenges i’m sure!
    Thank you for this post. It was insightful and helpful.

    • You are right, its not about wanting but becomes a have to.  If we wouldnt have stepped up to the plate our grandson would have been put up for adoption and we never would have seen him.

  3. Hi Dale, Liked your article! It does seem like more grandparents are watching their children’s children. Especially with today’s economics. Maybe we need to be more like mentors to them as we spend more time with them!
    Wishing you the best, Tim I re-sent because I mis-spelled my website

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