Challenges and Benefits for Grandparent Caregivers

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

What Are the Benefits?

  • A second chance at parenting. Most people have at least a few regrets about what they did and didn’t do the first time around. Raising grandchildren can give you the chance to use the lessons learned and to perhaps do it better.

  • Closer relationship with grandchildren. Spending daily life with children allows the development of new levels in the relationship. There is time to really get to know each child as an individual. Sharing their daily activities and growth can bring you all closer.
  • The chance to make a difference in a child’s life. When children come to live with grandparents because of trauma or loss, it’s a chance to make a difference. Children who feel loved and embraced by family in times of loss come through it knowing they are lovable and loved. They may have suffered enormous loss but you can help them stay connected to family who knew and loved their parents.
  • A greater purpose in living. For some grandparents, taking in the grandkids provides new purpose. These young people need you to provide them with shelter, to guide them, to be a role model, to help them recover from whatever put them in your care, and to move forward in life.
  • It can increase your tolerance for the younger generation. When children come to stay, they bring their music, their fashion sense, their language, and the fads of their generation. Parenting well means finding ways to accept and even love at least some of the ways they are different from you and especially from their parents when they were young. (Actually, styles often loop back. You may well find that the clothes you have in the attic are now “retro” and cool.)
  • It can help keep you young and active. Doing the job with enthusiasm can keep you young. If you are parenting tweens and teens, you will once again find yourself cheering on a team or going to the high school musical. You will know what is fashion trendy, who is at the top of the music charts, and what is and isn’t cool. If you have younger children, you can once again be sitting on the bleachers at soccer games, running a Brownie troop, and staffing the school bake sale. You will be in touch with the other parents, many who will be 20 or more years your junior. If you can find joy in it, you may well find that you are feeling younger too.

Need Help?

Some children are eligible for state and federal financial aid. Consult with your local child welfare office to see if your family qualifies for the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program.

AARP offers lots of information. Enter “grandparents” in the search field.

The Children’s Defense Fund puts out a brochure called: Helping Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children KINSHIP CARE RESOURCE KIT. Go to
http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/DocServer/full.pdf?docID=526. There also is a guide on that site for grandparents raising grandchildren with disabilities.

www.RaisingyourGrandchildren.com is a website full of helpful information, including a listing of sources of possible financial aid.

Many states have websites devoted to this issue as well. Web search “grandparents raising grandchildren and your state” to find local help.

 

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2008). Challenges and Benefits for Grandparent Caregivers. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/challenges-and-benefits-for-grandparent-caregivers/0001412
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

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