The number of children under the age of 18 who are living with their grandparents has grown tremendously during the last decade. More and more grandparents find themselves raising their grandkids for a host of reasons. Sometimes, the reasons involve difficult emotional situations and needs.
There may not be a lot of help out there for grandparents in this situation. So, here are some tips for you if you find yourself raising grandchildren.
1. Connect with Other Grandparent-Parents
It is so important to get in touch with other grandparents who are also raising their grandchildren. You can bounce ideas off each other, support one another, and offer encouragement and advice. You can also help babysit for others. And perhaps most importantly, you’ll realize you’re not alone in this situation. This accomplishes an important first step in your emotional connection with your grandkids: your own emotional health.
2. Hold Your Tongue
There are times when it’s really hard to hold your tongue when you’re a grandparent raising your grandchildren. The fact is, there may be a lot of family difficulties and problems associated with the kids’ presence in your home. You may feel resentful that you’re spending what are supposed to be relaxing retirement years taking care of young kids. But experts are clear that speaking badly of other family members – especially the child’s parents – in front of the kids can be emotionally damaging. Try to keep your frustrations for your counselor and friends in private.
3. Remember Your Own Relationships
Many times, marriages suffer when grandparents find themselves raising young children. Suddenly, the “couple time” and travel plans are out on hold yet again, and this time, there may not be the time or resources when the grandkids are grown. It can be really tough, so it’s more important than ever to make sure your own relationships are healthy. You can’t meet your grandkids’ emotional needs very well if your own emotional relationships are in shambles. Seek marital counseling if you need to – your grandkids need a stable home as much as you do.
4. Love Unconditionally
This is a key component to meeting a child’s emotional needs. It can be difficult when you want to attach expectations to your grandchildren, or when you feel like you’re owed something for your sacrifices. Try to love your grandchildren for who they are, not how they are affecting your life. Remember, it’s not their fault.
Raising emotionally healthy grandchildren can be challenging, but as a grandparent, you have the voice of experience to guide you. Look at it as a second chance to do things over again.