Putting the ‘Grand’ Back in Grandparenting: Coping Methods for Tired and Stressed Grandparents
Step-parent adoption may be the most common form of intrafamily adoption, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge all those grandparents across the country that are putting their golden years on hold to raise their grandkids.
Here at Adoption NSW, we have the utmost respect for these amazing grandparents who are stepping into the role of mum and dad, just when kids need them the most.
Added Stress: Getting Back into the Parenting Game
But even though grandparents already have experience raising kids, it doesn’t make the second time any easier – in fact, taking on the role of a parent may be even more difficult in your later years. Grandparents raising their grandchildren often experience a range of less desirable emotions, according to one 2003 study.
As a grandparent raising grandchildren, it’s not uncommon to feel emotions such as:
Stress and worry about becoming a parent again
Resentment towards your adult child for placing you in this situation
Depression at the loss of your free time, ability to work, etc
Guilt or grief if your grandchildren have come to you through a difficult situation (such as the death of your child)
Exhaustion from caring for young children
And while there are many positive emotions associated with the grandparenting role, negative feelings can still be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help you cope with the stress and demands of caring for your grandchildren.
6 Ways to Help You Cope
1. Turn to your family. Even if your grandchildren’s parents aren’t available, other family members may be able to help. Don’t be afraid to turn to your other children when things get difficult and you need extra support.
2. Get involved in your community. For help with caring for and entertaining your grandkids (or even just for a bit of time to yourself), look around the community. Churches, libraries and even neighbours can offer assistance when it comes to childcare.
3. Find (or start) a grandparent support group. It’s important to remember you’re not alone and that there are others who can help you through any difficulties that arise during this time. In-person, phone support groups and online meetings are all great ways to meet grandparents in your same situation. Take the time to talk to someone who has been where you are – they can answer questions and provide support.
4. Take time for you. Being a good caregiver to your grandkids also requires practising good self-care. It’s important to look after your mental health by investing time in your hobbies and taking a moment to relax when needed. Be sure to stay on top of your physical health as well by getting good rest, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.
5. Make some new friends. While many of your friends may not understand your current situation, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people. Get to know other parents and don’t worry about differences in age.
6. Remember who you’re doing it for. When you’re at your wit’s end, make sure to remember who you’re making these sacrifices for – your grandchildren!
If you’re in need of additional resources, be sure to visit Australia’s Parenting Website, this international site for grandparents raising grandchildren or our intrafamily adoption page. If you’re considering legally adopting your grandchildren, we offer simple intrafamily DIY adoption kits as well as affordable vouchers for professional legal advice.