Be health conscious. Take care of the health of your grandchildren as well as your own health. Make sure the whole family has regular medical checkups, eats well, sleeps enough, and gets some exercise. Depending on your financial situation, your grandchildren may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through the government. Do not forget about your own health. It is tempting to let your own health slide when caring for children… but, remember, you won't be able to take care of your grandchildren if you are not in good health yourself.
Seek out and accept help. If you have an extended family with people who can pick up some of the slack when things in your home are busy or difficult, make sure to use their help. Don’t hesitate to ask for (or expect) some assistance. Also look for help in your community. There are government services that offer aid for parenting grandparents as well as support groups where grandparents can talk and share with others who are also raising grandchildren.
Try to provide consequences, rather than focusing on punishment. It’s important to be consistent about the rules of your home. Enforcing rules by establishing consequences can create reliable boundaries that help children feel grounded and steady. On the other hand, unreasonable or overly severe punishments that invoke fright and anxiety do not establish a stable environment for children who have already been through a painful upheaval in their lives. It’s important for your grandchildren to respect you and follow your rules, but not to be in fear of you.
For most of us, grandparenting means spending enjoyable time with our grandchildren here and there, but not on a 24/7 basis. We make the most of the treasured moments we share and then go back to our own lives. But, across the United States, more grandparents than you might expect are parenting their grandchildren.
These individuals have already raised their own children and now have their grandchildren under their constant care and supervision. There are many different reasons why it happens… from the death of a parent to parental abandonment. Whatever the reason, these grandparents are stepping up and giving of themselves to make a better life for their grandchildren.
They are taking on a responsibility that nobody expects to face in the later decades of life. The self-sacrifice of these grandparents in assuming such a formidable role is generous and noble. Of course, having such an important role in a child’s life brings rewards and joy, but it is also challenging and demanding.
If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, we admire and salute you. We hope these tips from grandparents who have also assumed a parental role will be helpful to you. If you know someone who is parenting grandchildren, we hope you will share the tips with that person
Establish open lines of communication. Talk openly and honestly with your grandchildren and encourage them to do the same with you. That means really listening when they speak and open up to you. Encourage them to talk about their emotions and feelings, when they are feeling up and when they are feeling down. Respect their feelings and comments without judgement.
Take care of your own feelings of well-being. Don’t forget about your own personal needs and happiness. Don’t walk away from your own life to concentrate all your attention on your grandchildren. Nurture yourself. Remain engaged in things you enjoy. Carve out time for your favorite activities and hobbies. Don't allow yourself to be cut off from friends. Stay connected to people other than your grandchildren who also are important to you.
Bolster the child’s feelings of safety and well-being. There isn’t much more disconcerting for children than being separated from a parent. Your consistent and comforting presence in their lives can help the experience be less painful. Make sure your grandchildren feel safe and secure. Assure them of your love. Let them know you are there for the long haul and will not abandon them.
Accept your negative feelings. It is absolutely normal and natural to be unhappy or disappointed about having to parent again later in life. Very few people would welcome it with open arms. Don’t beat yourself up. Accept whatever you are feeling. Your response to your current situation does not in any way reflect your love for your grandchildren, and your emotions or thoughts don’t have to affect your relationship with them. After all, both you and your grandchildren are victims of difficult circumstances”
Create some structure. Children need structure in their lives to feel safe and secure, especially with the upheaval of being separated from their parents. Having routines, schedules, and rituals in the home can create a sense of consistency that makes life a bit more predictable, which feels comforting and safe. Of course, that doesn’t mean flexibility isn’t also important as well. There are times when going with the flow enhances everyone’s happiness.
Don’t empty your bank account. Raising children is expensive. When we were younger and bringing up our own children, we had future financial earnings we could look forward to that would help us build up our bank accounts. Now that we are older, most of us are living on fixed incomes or we will be shortly. Don’t forget about your own future when it comes to the money you put out raising your grandchildren. If the children’s parents are not able to provide financial support for their children, you may be eligible for government programs that can help with your expenses. There are also tax benefits available to parenting grandparents.