Parenting: Part Two, Parenting Grandchildren
You thought you had finished potty training and checking homework assignments years ago, but all of a sudden there’s a little bundle of joy (and energy) in the house again. In fact, in 2011, there were 7.7 million kids (or one in 10) being raised by a grandparent. Taking on parenthood when you’re young, much less in your senior years, is not for the faint of heart! Here are a few things you may want to consider:
Making it legal. In order to make important decisions in your grandkids’ upbringing, including registering them for school, seeking medical treatment, and gaining health insurance coverage, you may need to seek legal guardianship. A family law attorney can guide you on which form of custody best fits your family’s situation.
Talk about it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, but don’t deny your feelings. Talk about how you feel with someone you trust. You can even find support groups where you can meet others in the same boat.
Safe and sound. Establishing a routine and a set of rules makes kids feel secure, but make sure your grandchildren also have some say in the matter. If possible, give them a space of their own and let them have input in their new family.
Don’t lose touch. It may not always be possible—or even in the child’s best interest—but generally, it’s healthier for kids to continue to have a relationship with their parents, despite who they are living with. Facilitate phone calls and visits … and never put your grandchild in the middle of your relationship with their parents.
Care for the caregiver. Make sure you’re healthy and rested, so you can take good care of those little ones who are relying on you. Also avoid sacrificing your retirement money for your grandchildren’s care and education. Seek financial assistance, if you need it.