There are several scenarios where grandparents are the ones raising their grandchildren. First, it might be that both parents are working full time. Second, the grandparents are the legal guardians because the child has become an orphan. Third, the parents may have lost custody due to their incapability to raise their own children due to drug addiction, alcoholism, insanity or any other reason determined by the court.
Here are some tips for grandparents raising grandchildren.
- First of all, the grandparents should know their legal position in the child’s life, since this will greatly affect the level of responsibility they have over the children. If they are the legal guardians, then they have more financial responsibilities and major decisions such as choice of school, healthcare and disciplinary actions will all be theirs as long as the child is a minor. If the grandparent is simply helping out their adult child in taking care of the grandkids, then their responsibilities are limited to making sure the kids are safe and fed during their parents’ absence.
- It is very important for the grandparents and their adult child (the parent) to agree on their responsibilities. Sometimes, the parent and grandparents have different views on how to raise kids, and this can start a conflict. The grandparents should understand that raising the kids is mainly the parent’s job, so the grandparents’ “parenting style” should not be the basis for raising the kids, but the parents’. This way, the children will not be confused as to who has the authority in the house. It is not good for children to think, “I will do this even if dad gets mad because grandpa will side with me anyway.”
- Grandparents should equip themselves with current information on raising kids, especially if these kids are in their pre-teen and teen stages. A parenting book or magazine offers a lot of tips and hints on how to communicate best with kids and how to raise them in this fast paced world.
- If the grandparents are the legal guardians and the parents are given visitation rights, then the kids should know about it, and the grandparents should allow it. Grandparents should also know all their options and eligibility for state support regarding healthcare for themselves and the children, and other financial help.
- Grandparents should always take care of their health. Older people can have more health problems, and with kids to raise they should be aware that getting sick is not an option. If the grandchildren are old enough to do some house chores, then delegate the work to them. It will lift off some weight from the grandparents’ shoulders, and it also teaches them responsibility at an early age. Heavy tasks such as cleaning the garage and the garden, scrubbing floors and carrying the groceries can be delegated to the teens, while easier tasks such as sweeping, wiping tables, washing dishes and fixing the bed can be done by the younger kids.
- Children seek quality time, especially the younger ones. Reading them stories and poems before going to bed is still the best way to end the day. For older children, they can enjoy an evening watching TV with the oldies.