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The Rewards and Challenges of Parenting the Second Time Around

When parents are absent or unable to raise their children due to illness, death, or other situation, grandparents are often the ones who step in to take care of small children. Raising a second generation brings many rewards, including the fulfillment of giving your grandkids a sense of security, developing a deeper relationship, and keeping the family together. It also comes with many challenges. No matter how much you love your grandkids, taking them into your home requires major adjustments. But with the right guidelines and support, you can roll back the years and make a real difference in the lives of your grandchildren. The following is a list of tips to help in the enormous responsibility of raising your grandchildren.

Tip #1: Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s important to acknowledge and accept wat you’re feeling, both good and bad. Don’t beat yourself up over your doubts and misgivings. It’s only natural to feel some ambivalence about childrearing at a time when you expected your responsibilities to be dwindling. These feelings don’t mean that you don’t love your grandchildren. Remember that while you may not have the energy you did when you were younger, you have the wisdom that only comes with experience-an advantage that make a huge difference in your grandchild’s life. Unlike first-time parents, you’ve done this before and learned from your mistakes. Don’t underestimate what you have to offer.

Tip #2: Take Care of Yourself

  • A healthy you means healthy grandchildren. If you don’t take care of your health, you won’t be able to take care of your grandchildren, either. Make it a priority to eat nutritious meals, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep.
  • Hobbies and relaxation are not luxuries. Carving out time for rest and relaxation is essential to avoid burnout and depression. Use “me” time to really nurture yourself. Keeping your hair/barber appointment or taking a walk on a sunny day are great ways to take care of yourself.
  • It’s ok to lean on your grandkids for help. Kids are smarter and more capable than we often give them credit for. Even young children can pick up after themselves and help out around the house. Helping out will also make your grandkids feel good about their accomplishment.
  • Find someone you can talk to about what you’re going through. (Wisdom Circle). Support groups like Wisdom Circle can be very helpful in this journey, and it’s a good start for making friends in similar situations. Parents with a social network of supportive friends find it easier to care for their children and themselves. Hearing from people who have been there can both uplift your spirits and give you concrete suggestions for your situation.

Tip # 3: Focus on creating a stable environment

  • Establish a routine. Routines and schedules help make a child’s world feel safe. Set a schedule for mealtimes and bedtimes. Create special rituals that you and your grandchildren can share.
  • Encourage their input in their new home. Let your grandkids help pack and move in their things to the extent that they’re able for their age. Encourage them to decorate their new room and arrange things as they’d like. Having some control will make the adjustment easier.
  • Set up clear, age-appropriate house rules and enforce them consistently. Children feel more secure when they know what to expect. Loving boundaries tell the child he or she is safe and protected.
  • Offer your time and attention. You can be a consistent, reassuring presence for your grandkids. Try to make time to interact with them at the beginning of the day, when they come home from school, and before bed.

These are just a few tips to support grandparents in caring for their grandchildren.

By Denise Williams, MSW Family Education Specialist
The Content of this paper was taken from an article titled: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Library of Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ecac), 907 Barra Row, Suite 102/103 Davidson, NC 28203

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