Grandparents are known for sharing a special bond with their grandchildren. Many of us have been bought up with having a loving relationship with our elderly. They will often be the first point of call to look after their young ones when the parents are busy working or away. We will often have fond memories of visiting our grandma and grandpa on the weekend and on special occasions. But what happens when they are required to permanently care for kids?
They may find themselves placed in a situation where they are called upon to care for and raise their grandchildren permanently. This situation could arise where either the parents of the children have died, or the children have been removed from the parents care by the family court and the local authority. The grandparents may be deemed to be best placed to fulfill the role of the parents. Family lawyers have compiled the below tips which could be utilised and considered when they find themselves in a position to raise their youngest.
A grandparent would have successfully raised their children and would have been required to assist with helping their children raise their kids. However, they would have not usually permanently cared for a child for a number of years. They may notice that there has been a significant change in parenting since they were raising kids and having to raise their younglings may now seem like a challenge.
In order to adequately raise your kids, you should familiarise yourself with them. You should carefully consider the age and characteristics of kids and understand what level of care and affection they will require. If you need to take care of babies or infants then you need to ensure you are familiar with their diet and the specific food and nutrition they will require. You can always consult the parents or other parents who have children of similar age to ensure you are looking after your grandchildren’s needs and requirements.
They should consider understanding what support and resources are available to them through the local community and authority. If you are raising kids due to the court or local authority deeming the parents as unfit to care for their children, the caseworker or social worker may be able to assist you in recommending where you can obtain help and training in order to raise your young. Given the length of time, you have been away from parenting things would have changed drastically. You may be able to access or join local foster parent support groups for regular support and education.
Take care of yourself
Self-care at this stage of your life is important to ensure you remain both physically and mentally fit to support your grandchildren. Depending on both your age and the age of the kids you may be kept on your toes all day. It is advisable to ensure you take regular breaks during the day to ensure you do not exhaust yourself.
If the kids attend school or nursery then make sure the time they are away you relax or undertake activities which will relieve any stress or tiredness you may feel. Whilst being occupied in the demands of raising them you may be putting your personal needs aside. However, it is important to note that taking care of yourself is equally important. You are unlikely to be a good carer to them if you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and emotionally depleted.
If you are unable to take care of your own health you will struggle. You should therefore ensure you are eating regular nutritious meals, exercising and get adequate sleep. You should also ensure you create time for your hobbies and relaxation which will help you avoid depression and burnouts.
Provide Love, warmth and support
Adjusting to a new home can often be difficult for children. What could be more difficult is for children to get used to being raised by their grandparents rather than their parents. It is important that you note that your grandchildren will require some time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Given that younglings have been separated from their parents they may have a feeling of anger which could lead to them showing signs of unusual behavior and retaliation. Grandma and grandpa should try and discuss these issues with the youngest and provide them with a sense of security rather than taking this as a personal issue. Children will often miss their parents and will struggle with feelings of abandonment.
Grandchildren may portray their feelings in many ways which could include aggressive or inappropriate behaviour. You will need to understand that this a part of the change process and they will require some time to adjust. They should note that the kids will not always listen to them. They should communicate calmly during this difficult change.
Kids will often settle in better where they have a sense of security and reassurance that they are still loved. They should, therefore, handle the transition period with care, love, affection and support.
Create a supportive and stable environment for kids
Family specialists have noted that many grandchildren adjust better to their grandparents’ residence when they are encouraged and allowed to pack and move their belongings as well as arranging their new room. Children adapt better when they feel comfortable and secure. By allowing them to undertake these basic duties can help kids feel at ease.
They should also note that creating routines daily can often help children feel safe whether this involves creating evening or weekend routines or setting a schedule for mealtimes, bedtimes and playtimes. Furthermore, they need to encourage kids to discuss their hobbies or extracurricular activities which could be implemented to offer certainty and continuity.
You should also offer your time and attention to younglings. It is vital that you make time to interact with them, this will allow you to be a consistent and reassuring figure for them. The young will often see you as role models and will develop better by understanding your background and life experiences.
Encourage open and honest communication
As with adults, communicating honestly and openly is one of the best things you can do to assist children cope with their new situation. Grandchildren like adults will have feelings of their own. These feelings if they remain hidden can be detrimental to kids and could lead to them feeling unhappy or suffering from stress or depression.
Grandparents should ensure they take time from their busy daily routine to listen to their grandchildren to understand their concerns, feelings and address any questions they may have. Listening and communicating will provide them with a sense of security as they will be aware that you are there for them. You should also encourage kids to talk about their feelings and where possible help them learn to identify their emotions.
Some younglings depending on their age may not be able to effectively communicate their feelings and emotions. Grandparents should explore and consider other activities that could assist in identifying their feelings. This could be by asking the children to make pictures or paintings or write a story on how they feel.
Specialist Solicitors at Kabir Family Law can advise helping to build stronger relationships with grandchildren and regularly help many grandparents in a range of family matters.
Kids will often need the joy and simplicity of childhood restored after being separated from their parents. During these difficult stages of life, grandparents should try and ensure the kids are provided the opportunity to remain children and continue to have fun. They could try and find activities or things that make them laugh together with children and allow them to enjoy quality time. By letting kids explore things that feel fun for them may also allow you to have fun. This will help the young heal quicker and also adjust in their new life and home.
Find your own support network
Grandparents may also be finding it difficult to adapt to their new life and the challenge of raising their grandchildren. You need a safe person with whom you can share your feelings. Having a strong support network of family or friends can provide invaluable support and assistance in adjusting to their new role. Furthermore, they will be able to share their experience with their close network of people and may also benefit from effective views and opinions on how to better raise kids.
The most important advice for the eldest members of your family is that they have raised children before, and they can do it again. Kids are lucky to have their love and affection during difficult times. Grandparents are usually best placed to care for children where the parents are no longer to do so and with the right support they can put their parenting experience into use to nurture their grandchildren effectively.