Frequently Asked Questions

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Legal Issues

Self Care Issues

How do I take time for myself when I now provide 24 hour care to my grandchild?

Grandparents often believe that they cannot take time for themselves, because they need to be physically and mentally present at all times for their grandchild. If you are the primary caregiver to a child, it is necessary to give most of yourself and it is hard to see the importance of taking breaks. However, like a runner who often takes water breaks to refuel and recharge, grandparents who raise grandchildren must take time for themselves. Therefore, ask for help in small intervals turn to supportive family members, friends, and neighbors to be with your grandchild for 15-20 minutes while you take a bath, go for a short walk, or read your favorite magazine. Taking 15 minutes for yourself might be just what you need to sustain yourself for the next few days.

Why am I feeling down, even though I am really excited I am raising my grandchild?

It is normal to feel a mixture of emotions at this time. In many ways your grandchild coming to live with you usually means that something happened with his or her birth parents. This change in parenting as well as your change in grandparenting is a huge. Big changes like this usually signify a loss. Loss often brings on feelings of sadness. It is okay to feel sad about these changes. Just know that it will take time to adjust not unlike waves in the ocean each wave may bring a different emotion. One day sad, one day excited. Give yourself permission and time to heal. Should you find that you are having continued difficulty with sadness, please seek professional assistance available in your community (e.g., faith community, mental health, public health, marriage and family therapists, etc.)

I am really frustrated after my grandchild's parent (my adult child or their spouse) talks with or visits with my grandchild. What is the best way to cope with my frustration?

Grandparents are often challenged to "pick up the pieces" when a parent visits. Often children exhibit behavioral problems after the visit. This is normal and makes sense. The child is often confused, angry, and still hoping the parent will change that they will be able to resume the parenting role. The depth of the child's grief will come out in many ways. To help a child and yourself through this grief period, counseling is strongly recommended. A counselor can help you prepare for parental visits and provide tips on how to create a safe environment during the parental visit, as well as, how to comfort and provide support to the grandchild after he/she sees his/her parent.

My other grandchildren are jealous. What should I do?

Try to communicate with your other grandchildren about how important they are, by talking, reading a book, take time to notice their interests. Also, try to set times you can spend time with them either alone or with all the grandchildren that live in proximity. If they do not live in the proximity, call them on the phone even if it is a short conversation. Try and set times you will call so they (and you) have something to look forward to. Maybe send them small items they might like in the mail. Children love to get mail!!!

How do I cope with my friends and family who have rejected me because of my decision to raise grandchildren?

It is not surprising that you have experienced friends who no longer want to spend time with you. Many grandparents have this same experience. Certainly, you may be feeling rejected and also are dealing with yet another loss (i.e., the loss of your social network). It is okay to be sad about this loss. Remember that grandparent support groups are designed to help you cope with this loss and many other experiences you are facing. Turn to the grandparents you meet at support group or on-line using this program for friendship and support.

I am really struggling with being a parent when I want to be a grandparent. What advice do you have for me?

Try to recognize how special and unique the relationship you are developing with your grandchild! Do your best to have fun everyday with your grandchild and make time to pass on traditions and stories from where they have come from. This might help you as well as the child maintain a sense of grandparent/grandchild roles.