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of us are not raising our grandchildren or another
relative's child or children because we have an overwhelming
desire to start a family all over again. We are raising the
children because they need our help and love. That fact can
be overwhelming in and of itself at times. When children are
taken from a parent and raised by another, there are always
reasons, and those reasons are often accompanied with
trauma, sorrow, and grief. If everything were going great,
chances are, the children would
still be with their parents. So, no matter how much we love
our grandchildren and no matter how much better we think
life will be for them with us, the children are going to
experience confusing feelings that will need to be
addressed, especially as parents may or may not be bopping
in and out of their lives. Grandparents are often unsure of the proper way to talk with children about their parent's situation, and sometimes require professional assistance.
What needs to be done to help the
children will depend on numerous variables -- the age of the
children, their educational abilities or lack thereof, their
physical health, and so important, their emotional health.
It is important to remember that not only adults experience
depression and anxiety. Many children suffer tremendously
from anxiety attacks and situational or clinical depression.
They may experience internal conflict regarding those they
love. They may feel anger, guilt, and even fear. One
grandmother noticed that after her 4-year-old granddaughter
talked with the child's mother on the phone, the little girl
wet the bed for a week and even wet her pants during the
day. This was something very unusual for her. The child's
mother had tried to tell her that her father (who was
incarcerated) loved her and was sorry he had not been nice.
The little girl had witnessed and experienced severe
traumatic events caused by her father and the effect of the
phone call had been negative rather than positive. The
grandmother was able to explain to the child's therapist who
was working with her what her reaction had been. Seeking
professional counseling for children who have been victims
of abuse or neglect can be not only helpful for the child
but a support to the grandparent or kinship parent as well.
The following are agencies and
institutions that can be helpful when determining what is
needed to help our children:
Social Services: Social Workers who are child
advocates can be very helpful in finding needed services
in your area.
Schools: Children who have been removed from their
homes because of abuse or neglect or are away from the
parents they love may experience problems in school and
also develop behavior problems. There may be learning
disabilities and health problems caused by either
physiological or psychological reasons. The schools can be
a great resource in determining needs and either providing
services or providing referrals to other agencies.
Pediatricians and Community Health Centers: Find a
good pediatrician who you have confidence in and can rely
on for support. Many health centers offer health education
and nutrition counseling.
- Health Department: The
Health Department can also be a good resource for
nutrition services. Many of the problems children
experience can be helped with proper nutrition.
Healthy eating, an active
lifestyle, and adequate sleep cannot be overemphasized
when dealing with individuals of all ages and especially
with children. Highly processed "Junk" foods containing
high amounts of fat and sugars along with a sedentary
lifestyle can wreck havoc on anyone's life including
children. As children grow, their bodies and brains
require proper nutrition to function properly. Learn
everything you can about proper health habits for yourself
and your children.
a healthy and safe environment both physically and
emotionally is vital if we are to help these children know
how valuable they are as human beings and help them piece
their lives back together again. Plenty of good activities
that will allow them to learn new ways of living and
seeing things are invaluable. This is an opportunity for
them to learn and develop new memories. Creating a safe environment can be a challenge to grandparents who have not had small children in their homes for years. Click here for several excellent ideas on child-proofing your home.
Positive interaction with our grandchildren,
especially when they are experiencing behavior problems,
can be a challenge, but it is something that is very
important to develop. As we set boundaries for the
children and find that balance of love and discipline, the
children need to know that we believe they are incredibly
talented and special. A good motto when dealing with
children is "Firm yet Kind" with an emphasis on kindness.
Children must learn acceptable behavior in order to
function properly in society, but we must teach that
lesson in kindness.
fun with our grandchildren is important in lessening
the stress and softening the burden everyone in the
household may be experiencing. Playing and laughing on a
child or teenager's level can help us remember what is
really important. Humor is good for the soul, everybody's'
soul. So learn to play. Relearn if you have to. If you
look back when raising your own children and you say,
"Gee, I wish I had done that differently." well now is
your chance. You can do things differently. Remind
yourself, in the scope of life, does this really matter?
Some things do and some things just don't.
One thing to remember as
grandparents and kinship parents is that as we do the
very best we can do, it is ultimately the children who
will decide, as they mature, how they are going to respond
to our love and efforts. We must not fall into the mistake
of thinking that we will fix everything for them. We
cannot. They will continue to face challenges and even
uncertainties. But, one thing we can do is to be sure that
no matter what, they know that we will always love them.
Grandparents who raise grandchildren are more than
caregivers. They are parents, educators, and spiritual
I want my own pet. She can share my
Wow! look at all of this
healthy food at the Children's Museum?