Raising your grandchildren is an unexpected turn that life sometimes takes. You thought you were past your childrearing years, and suddenly you are raising a toddler at 60. It can seem like a lot to handle, but thankfully there is a lot of advice online. I’ve taken the advice of family members and other grandparents to discover the top ten tips for grandparents raising grandchildren.
Raising your grandchildren isn’t easy. Remember that raising a child has changed since you did it. The best tip for grandparents raising their grandchildren is to reach out for help. There are resources and programs that can help you with the expenses and mental toll that this situation takes. The following tips can help, too.
- Find resources to help.
- Research how different raising children is today.
- Take care of yourself.
- Ask for help.
- Have fun with them!
- Be honest and open.
- Keep your promises.
- Establish a routine you can follow.
- Let them be kids.
- Monitor their mental health.
Raising Grandchildren in Your Golden Years
You never expected to be here. Raising your grandchildren can be a response to a traumatic event or a necessity you never saw coming. Either way, raising a child in your 50s, 60s, and even 70s takes its toll.
You may not have the energy you once did. Things have changed, and raising a child is much different now. You may have to cancel travel plans or put the retirement you dreamed of on hold.
However you manage to do it, you’re going to need some help. These ten tips are the result of talking with grandparents in this situation, family members, and communities of kinship carers online.
Hopefully, these tips can help you better prepare to raise your grandchildren.
1. Find Resources to Help
There are a wealth of resources available to families in this unique situation. If you need monetary support, make sure to inquire at the local and state level about benefits you may be entitled to. If you are struggling with parenting, there may be counseling services available.
Consider hiring a babysitter once and a while to help relieve the stress. All parents benefit from time alone, and grandparents are no different!
Government resources like the Child Welfare website from the US Department of Health & Human Services can help connect you to resources. They have tools on their website to help you as well.
You can also look into church and community groups in your area. There is always someone willing to help, you just have to find them!
Other organizations that may be able to help include:
- The United Way
- The Social Security Administration
Resources for Grandparents in Texas
If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren in Texas, the following resources may be able to help:
- AARP (this factsheet includes various resources you can contact within Texas)
- TX Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- The Gap Program through MCH Family Outreach
Resources for Grandparents in Florida
Grandparents raising their grandchildren in Florida may be able to turn to the following organizations:
Resources for Grandparents in South Carolina
For grandparents raising their grandchildren in South Carolina, you may find assistance through the following organizations:
Resources for Grandparents in the UK
Grandparents raising their grandchildren in the UK may require different resources. The following links are great places to start:
2. Research How Different Raising Children is Today
Even after raising your own children, things change. Today, we have new forms of technology. Online spaces may not be safe for children, different laws may apply to what your grandchild may or may not do on the internet, and more.
And that’s just technology! Some states have changed car seat and booster seat laws recently. There may be new procedures for enrolling children in school. Honestly, just make sure you’re staying on top of the latest developments for care providers.
3. Take Care of Yourself
It can be hard to find the time or energy to take care of yourself. Even when you’re having fun caring for your grandchildren, you might be neglecting your own needs. Make sure that you’re getting enough rest and that you’re eating enough. Go to all of your doctor’s appointments and don’t skip your medications.
It may seem like you’re neglecting your grandchild’s care if you put yourself first sometimes. That isn’t the case. It’s hard to take care of someone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Obviously, self-care is important. It’s even more important when you’re a caretaker. You will be a better grandparent if you take the time to rest and relax once and a while.
4. Ask for Help
It may seem silly to ask for help. After all, you’ve already raised your children – you should know what you’re doing, right?
This type of thinking can be harmful. You don’t always have to know what you’re doing, and sometimes you will need help. Allow yourself to ask for it without feeling guilty.
There are many organizations that can help you find counseling or additional resources, as we mentioned above. But don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members for help watching or providing for your grandkids.
Remember, it takes a village! That’s never more true than when you are a grandparent raising your grandchild.
5. Have Fun With Them!
Raising your grandchildren can be challenging, but never forget to have fun with them. After all, they’re kids – that’s their job!
Remember to enjoy every moment with them as they grow, and remind yourself why you do this. No matter how you came to be raising your grandchildren, it can be incredibly rewarding. When you remember this, it makes the difficult moments easier.
6. Be Honest and Open
It’s important for any parent to maintain open communication with their children. In a situation where grandparents are raising grandchildren, it’s even more important. Make sure that your grandchild knows you’re there for them. Allow them to come to you with any problem or situation they have.
Chances are, your grandchildren came to be with you due to a situation outside of their control. Losing a parent or being removed from their home can be traumatic. Make sure that you level with them. Stay honest about the situation and do your best to maintain open communication.
If you need help learning how to address certain issues, contact the Department of Health & Human Services in your area. They usually have educational opportunities available to help.
7. Keep Your Promises
Keeping your promises is important for all children, but especially those that might feel insecure. If your grandchildren have been moved around a lot, abandoned, or are recovering from trauma, keep your promises. No matter how small those promises may be, make sure that you can keep them before making them.
You want to give your grandchild a sense of security with you. You want them to know that they matter and that you are doing all that you can. Some promises may seem harmless. Promising that you’ll go to the park or buy an expensive toy can give them false hope, especially if you can’t follow through.
Before you make a promise, be sure you can follow through. It will mean the world to your grandchild.
8. Establish a Routine You Can Follow
Children thrive when following routines. If your grandchild is younger, a routine is absolutely necessary. Consider the circumstances they’ve dealt with in their life so far. If they were often subject to chaotic, inconsistent schedules, it can be hard for them.
However, getting into a routine you know you can follow is important. Provide them with stability, but don’t get in over your head.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is provide meals at the same time every day. Make hygiene and bedtimes the same as well. When your grandchild knows what to expect, it helps relieve some of their anxiety.
9. Let Them Be Kids
It may be difficult to think of your grandkids as children. Obviously, you know that they are just kids – however, giving them the freedom to be kids may be a challenge at this point in your life.
You might expect them to be more emotionally mature than they are, or to clean up after themselves more. Perhaps you have expectations about their grades or ability to care for themselves. You might be comparing them to your own kids at the same age.
While it can be difficult to break out of this thought process, it’s important that you do. Every child is different. Your grandchildren may be suffering from their circumstances or a lack of care before coming to you.
It’s important to give them time to be kids before they grow up.
10. Take Care of Their Mental Health
Depending on the circumstances of your arrangement, your grandchild might be suffering from a mental health issue because of it. It’s your job to educate yourself and look for the signs.
If your grandchild seems to be withdrawn or is acting out more than usual, it could be a sign of a mental health issue. It’s probably not a bad idea to take them to a therapist, especially if they came to live with you due to traumatic events.
The organizations listed above may be able to help you connect with a therapist. They could also help with the financial aspects of therapy if your grandchild doesn’t have insurance.
What Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Should Not Do
Raising your grandchildren is difficult. There are many hurdles you’ll have to overcome and challenging decisions to make. Here are some of the things that you should avoid doing while raising your grandchildren.
Don’t Supervise Visits with Parents
Of course, each situation is different. If the parents still want to be in their children’s lives, it’s important to set healthy boundaries. Your grandchildren may become upset or feel unstable about seeing their parents, so exercise discretion when allowing their parents to see them.
Don’t Ban Technology
Children today have different attitudes towards technology. You might feel like technology is harmful or wrong. Banning your grandchildren from the technology they’ve come to rely on (including phones, the internet, video games, and computers) can be harmful. Your grandchildren might resent you. Your relationship may become strained.
Put boundaries in place, but don’t ban technology entirely.
Don’t Let Them Slide
If your grandchildren have come from a troubling situation, it may be easy to let them get away with more. You might not want to give them chores. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable discouraging certain behaviors. However, you should run your home with discipline and routine. Give them tasks to complete and discourage bad behaviors.
It may be a rough transition, but it’s for their own good.
Raising your grandchildren is going to be tough. There’s no way around how draining it can be. However, it can also be extremely rewarding.
Consider these tips if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you are raising your grandchildren. There are a lot of resources available for grandparents in your situation, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!