Are you a grandparent taking on the care of your grandies? You’re not alone!
Increasing numbers of Kiwi grandparents are stepping up and raising newborns right through to adolescents. And they need our support.
The reasons for this are complex, but include the sudden death of an adult child, mental illness, substance abuse or incarceration. It’s not what most seniors expect to be doing at this stage of life, but they’re doing it anyway. And it’s not uncommon for grandparents to access Salvation Army services when finding themselves suddenly responsible for the care of grandchildren. But what they need is compassion and practical help—not judgement.
For most who say ‘yes’ to this responsibility, significant readjustment to their lives is required, as well as the need to support grandchildren coping with change. Often grandchildren arrive bewildered following trauma, and may be angry, confused and fearful. It’s a lot to take on. But many grandparents bravely agree anyway, wanting to keep children in their whānau and prevent them going into foster care.
One grandmother raising her mokopuna said that although it was physically demanding, the wisdom of her years was a real benefit: ‘With my own children I was always running around cleaning and stuff, but this time around I have learnt that spending time with my grandchildren is the most important thing. As you go on in life, you learn what’s important.’
War Cry readers can support grandparents in prayer, and by understanding the following three key areas that caregivers face when taking on the care of grandchildren—as outlined on the ‘Grandparents Raising Grandchildren’ (GRG) website:
Adapting—to becoming the full-time caregiver
Updating—raising children in today’s environment is very different to their first experience parenting
Restoring—overcoming the fallout and moving on, so that the new family can be healthy and functional.
For those heroic grandparents reading, you are not alone in this journey—there are others treading the same path, as well as experts and experienced caregivers walking alongside, to provide resources and practical support. GRG also offers a roadmap for grandparents, and you can click on the following Rs on their website for even more information:
First response—crisis support for grandparents who have suddenly had to take care of their grandchildren
Rights and responsibilities—Understanding the legal situation; your rights and responsibilities as full-time caregiver
Relating—Understanding the world your grandchildren live in, their needs and how to relate to them as a full-time caregiver
Resilience—Being prepared for the life stages ahead and equipped to handle future challenges
Resolution—Life beyond trauma. Learning to deal with the consequences of what has happened for both you and your grandchildren
Rebuilding—Your lives have changed. Strategies for rebuilding and stabilising your family and their wellbeing.