Often grandparents find themselves unexpectedly placed in a position where they are needed to raise their grandchildren. This is a life changing situation for all involved and can leave one floundering as to where to start, stress and family dynamics add to this mix. Uncertainty, where to begin, not to mention the legal requirements, schooling and the necessities of life.
Your life may be turned upside down and this includes the children caught in these circumstances. First and foremost we applaud you for opening you hearts and homes to your moko, but these are also unsheltered waters as through the passage of time parenting has changed, your finances may be already stretched being older, your health may not be the same as when you were younger. Love in the heart has no boundaries, so we have therefore supplied some top tips to ease your journey. And it is a journey but it does not have to be done alone. There is help.
The ‘6 R’s’ which Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ have developed will assist you no matter which part of this journey you are on, these are: Response, Rights, Relating. Rebuilding, Resolution and Resilience.
Top tips for grandparents raising grandchildren
Response and Rights are the first two stages, when the children first arrive:
Make sure you have a regular routine every day. These children need this for security and with your reassurance they will be fine, never put the parent/s down in front of the children, regardless as to how you feel, reassure them that parents do love them, as this reflects to them that they were not the problem, as this is what they think and this can have long lasting effects
Seek support. GRG Trust NZ is excellent as they understand all your issues and you can get free resources and advice, their GRG handbook deals with all issues you shall face in your new role
Seek legal advice if necessary. your local Community Neighbourhood Law Office may be able to assist, a Lawyer or your local Family Court or if Child Youth and Family have ‘orders’ over the children consult with them and make sure you get their ‘Caregiver Handbook’
Keep your home a ‘safe’ home. If parents have access and there is conflict it is not advisable to have visits in your home
Join a local GRG support group so you are not isolated and can share with others raising
Relating and Rebuilding: Settling and beginning to move on.
You will receive free DVDs from GRG Trust also addressing the issues of trauma and parenting advice, made for NZ grandparents raising and featuring some GRG members, we suggest when an issue arrives for you watch that particular segment, seek out any parenting courses you may think advisable, Fostering Kids provide free caregiver training, which GRG advertise
Some children may need counselling or specialist advice – seek out that assistance
Keep these children busy, join sports/ arts groups and remember yourself in this too, we need you well.
GRG Trust can also advise you of free respite care camps. These are advertised in their monthly newsletter.
Resolution and Resilience: New challenges and sustainability.
Moving forward: as children reach puberty this can bring up a myriad of issues for our children who may have had trauma in their formative years, again seek out professional assistance, there are also many community organisations that run grief and loss and anger managements courses.
For your resilience see if you can attend a SALT Course run by GRG Trust (Sharing and learning together) take time out as you are important too
Read anything you can lay your hands on, as many of our children may develop unexpected issues which may have not manifested in the early years, but present in later years, there is help out there and understanding for you.
Last but not least, be proud of them but also yourself.
You can get more information and support about on raising grandchildren from the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust.