Grandparents Supporting Parents
"Every time a child is born, a grandparent is born, too!"
- "We get all the fun, but none of the responsibility;"
- "I'm too young to be a grandparent;" or
- "We can love them, spoil them, and then send them home."
But reality is, being a grandparent is a responsibility, comes at all ages of life, and you don't always get to send them home.
TIP: Building good family relationships between you and your adult child and spouse is the key to being a successful grandparent!By Donna Liess, Colorado State University.
See complete article: "Grandparents - the Fun Generation"
Being a grandparent is not easy, and numerous issues can make it even more challenging. For example, you may not live in the same community, or your adult child has divorced, and visitation becomes an issue, or perhaps your parenting philosophy differs broadly from your grandchild's parents.
Perhaps you didn't have a positive relationship with your own child or their spouse. How do you mend that and start over with the grandchildren? Time is also an issue. You still may be actively pursuing your career or even have children of your own still in the home. How do you find the time and energy to be a grandparent?
Chances are you are on the right track if you sometimes ask yourself, "How can I become a better grandparent or how can you help without 'interfering'?"
These questions show your heart is in the right place. Just as in parenting, effective grandparenting means putting the overall happiness and wellness of your grandchild and their parents FIRST. You can do this through open, honest communication. Be a supporter, a good listener, spend time together, let them know they are special to you.
If you don't live in the same community, build other methods of keeping in touch (cards, telephone, photographs). With effort, you can still be a valuable, involved part of your grandchild's life.
Grandoparents as Parents
You also may find yourself in the situation where your adult child can no longer care for their child(ren). According to a 1997 census report, 3.7 million children under the age of 18 live with their grandparents or other kinship care providers. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) estimates the figure has increased by more than 40 percent since 1990. Idaho data also reflects this increase in the number of children residing with family members other than their parents.
Reasons Children Live with Relative Caregivers
- Parent drug or alcohol abuse
- Neglect or abandonment of children
- Physical or mental illness
- Death of one or both parents
- Parental joblessness
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: How Do You Compare?
- 30 percent of grandchildren being raised by grandparents are 4 years old or younger.
- The average age of the grandparent is 55.
- Two-thirds of the grandparents are married.
- 42 percent are working; 45 percent are living on a fixed income; 12 percent have retirement income, but also work.
- 7 out of 10 grandparents in this situation expect it to be permanent.
From It's Not the Same the Second Time Around: Grandparents Raising Children, prepared by the Grandparent Information Center, Washington, D.C.
If this is your situation, you have an even broader challenge as a grandparent because of legal issues, health insurance, and the financial impact of caring for another child(ren). But there are resources and supports to help you. For financial and/or medical assistance, contact your local Health and Welfare offices or contact the Idaho CareLine at 1-800-926-2588, 1-208-332-7205 (TDD). See the list of Idaho Grandparents as Parents Organizations/Resources for support groups and additional information sources.
If you would like to make a difference in a child's life, but do not have grandchildren, consider becoming a Foster Grandparent. The Idaho CareLine also can provide additional referrals to support groups or agencies where you can volunteer throughout Idaho.
Note: You'll find these articles at different web sites. Use the "back" button when you're done to return to this page.
Grandparenting - Recording Memories - A special gift idea.
Grandparent Information Center - AARP established the Grandparent Information Center (GIC) in 1993 to help grandparents cope with their parenting role. GIC provides information about services and programs that can help improve the lives of grandparent households (including additional links). The GIC also offers assistance and publications in Spanish (call (202)434-2296 (main line); (202)434-2281 (Spanish language).
GrandTimes - Resources targeted for grandparents.
When Grandparents Become Parents to Their Grandchildren - National contacts for resources.
Copyright 2007 by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
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