By Karen Best Wright, Health Educator
Those of us who are caring full-time for grandchildren have many differences. The one thing we have in common is that we are raising children at a time in our lives that we likely had not expected to be raising children.
Our differences are more varied. Some of us may have the children for a short time while a parent is absent and then returns. Some of us have had our adult child call us for help by taking the young ones because their lives are a mess and they can't parent. Some have had CPS call because the children are in the custody of the state, and they are looking for relatives to take the children. Some children stay in the custody of the state and are "fostered" by the grandparents. Others are placed permanently with the grandparent or other relative and the state withdraws from the situation, closes the case, and the grandparent becomes the legal guardian or is given full custody, depending on the state. Some grandparents have their grandchildren because their own child is deceased.
Sometimes the children stay with the grandparents temporarily, maybe a few months or even a few years. Other grandparents adopt their grandchildren and take full responsibility as if they were their birth children. Anyway you look at it, there are challenges.
Rarely, is it easy. Grandparents face various challenges from dealing with addicted parents, various court dates, legal fees, and how to support the grandchildren. With many grandparents in their 50's, 60's, and even 70's, they often deal with various health issues of their own that they didn't have 20 or 30 years earlier.
The advice given by grandparents who have been raising grandchildren for several years usually counsel those new to this journey to stay focused on the well-being of the children and not become consumed with the problems of their parents. This can be difficult when the parent is their own child.
So where does all of this lead? Well, where do you want it to lead? Do you want this to be temporary? Do you want it to be permanent with custody, or do you want to adopt? Remember, that what we want may or may not be how things go. Sometimes when I wonder what am I actually accomplishing with two teenage grandchildren, I realize that for now I am providing a safe environment that is drug free, alcohol free, and violent free. I try to provide more than that as a single grandmother, but realize if that is all I can do, we are okay.
While we all have something in common, we are also very different. In spite of our differences, we can be a support to each other.
Grandmother in love with her grandchildren