Grandparents and Step-Grandparents Raising Children
In all cases, there is a generally recognized need for emotional support. In some cases, the support and encouragement from other family members is enough. In others, the need for outside help arises. This type of assistance is available through educational groups. Classes and seminars which address the issues and other potential problems grandparents may face are available. Support groups in your area can be found in the phone book or by contacting the Grandparents Information Center of the American Association of Retired Persons at (202) 434-2296 for further assistance.
Why the need for support groups?
Studies have produced evidence connecting significant stress levels to the role of primary care giving. These stresses are brought on by such factors as financial and health concerns, the feeling of social isolation from peer groups, resentment over the loss of a desired lifestyles, the surrender of a job or pastime / hobby, or the feeling that time alone is no longer attainable. Sometimes, these issues require the help of professionals to be able to effectively cope.
The grandchildren themselves have issues that need to be contended with as well. It is important to try to explain the reasons for the change in the living situation to the grandchildren and to do it as politely as possible. "Bad-mouthing" the parents will ultimately harm the grandchild. If the parent has died, gone away, or been abusive or neglectful, the grandchild will most likely harbor feelings of sadness and anger. It is important that the grandchild understand that these emotions are both natural and healthy. If at all possible, allowing the children to spend time with the parents in a SAFE and HEALTHY environment is always encouraged. For the most part, professional counseling for the children is a very effective and in some instances necessary way to address many of these and other emotional issues.
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