For a number of reasons, grandparents may become the primary caregivers for their grandchildren, either for short periods or permanently.
For most grandparents, raising grandchildren comes about because of an unexpected and/or traumatic event in the child's life. This is a big adjustment for both the grandparent/s and the grandchildren.
Raising grandchildren brings with it enormous challenges, that didn’t exist when you parented the first-time around. There are emotional challenges behind the reasons your grandchild is in your care, plus the physical challenges, of being older and having less energy.
There are support groups throughout New Zealand and the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ, is an organisation that understands both the benefits of grandchildren being raised by their grandparents and the challenges it can present. The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust provides a range of different support services to grandparents, whānau and caregivers who are raising their grandchildren and whānau/kin on a full-time basis. See link below.
Grief, sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, disappointment and worry, can be some of the emotions experienced by both the grandparent and grandchild. Managing daily concerns and behaviour becomes more difficult, under these circumstances.
As your child is no longer caring for your grandchild/ren, or is unable to, you may have different issues to work through, to maintain a healthy relationship with them. No matter how you feel about your child and their behaviour, it is important to portray them as positively as you can, to your grandchild.
If the child’s parent is able to visit, you should encourage this. Even short visits help to maintain a positive connection, and will make transition easier if your grandchild is to eventually return home. If drugs or abuse are a part of the reason your grandchild is in care, then make sure you have rules in place to ensure a safe visit. Some common-sense rules include, not turning up drunk or high, not turning up un-announced, and no verbal abuse.
If the child’s parent is unable to visit, encourage positive contact through letters or emails. Make sure you acknowledge any positive behaviour your grandchild’s parent presents and be prepared to accept small improvements over time.
Some family members will be supportive of the new situation and offer to help where they can, while others may be resentful. Whatever their reactions, it’s a good idea to include the whole family in your decision to raise your grandchild. If possible, organise a family conference so you can set up support networks right from the start.
For further information and help see attachments and links provided.