As grandparents, the responsibility of raising grandchildren comes with rewards as well as challenges. When parent’s life circumstances change because of divorce, incarceration, work schedules, or even death, grandparents fill in to assume full or part-time responsibilities known as “kinship care.” Are you a grandparent or other extended family member with the role of parenting a child that is not yours and needs help trying to figure out how to keep your head above water?
Here are a few tips that can help you succeed at parenting the second time around:
Tip 1: Acknowledge your feelings: It is all right to go through a range of positive and negative emotions such as anger, resentment, guilt, or grief. Unlike the first-time parent, you have done this before and learned from mistakes. Do not underestimate what you have to offer. Children may resent being separated from parents and it may show in their behavior. Children often act out in a safe place so continue to give love and support.
Tip 2: Take care of yourself: There will be times where physical, emotional, and financial demands might overwhelm you. Take care of yourself and seek out the support services you need. Make sure that you eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise, and do not skip doctor's appointments.
Tip 3: Encourage open and honest communication: Change is hard for children because of the uncertainty they are experiencing. It is important to listen carefully to each other. If there is a question that cannot be answered it is ok to say, “I do not know the answer but I will find out.”
Tip 4: Focus on creating a stable environment: Establish daily routines and boundaries, set clear and age-appropriate house rules and chores to create a stable environment for the whole house. Follow through with expectations. Loving boundaries tell the child that he or she is safe and protected. Be available to interact with each other at meals, after school, and around bedtime when possible.
If you are a grandparent or other adult raising someone else’s child or know someone that is, SHARE Foundation and FACT, Inc. are looking to host quarterly support and training meetings in Union County for you. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity to meet with others raising children a second time around, contact Debbie Watts at 870-881-9015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHARE Foundation is a non-profit in Union County whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of the community. The Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP) was developed in order to make available a network of area supports, opportunities, and activities focused on best practice strategies for a community committed to changing the odds for individuals and families in need. The VIP can be viewed at www.sharefoundation.com.