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Sup­port­ing Grand­par­ents Who Are Parenting

As part of KYC’s Care­giv­er Sup­port Pro­gram, we are proud to pro­vide a sup­port group specif­i­cal­ly for old­er adults serv­ing as guardians, care­givers, or par­ents to young people. 

When wel­com­ing chil­dren into their fam­i­lies, many par­ents expect to be active­ly par­ent­ing for rough­ly two decades. For some, their years of par­ent­ing may stretch to span four decades or more, as they take on the role of par­ent” for their children’s chil­dren. Tak­ing on this tremen­dous respon­si­bil­i­ty to care for a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren can be filled with chal­lenges – from addi­tion­al finan­cial stress to find­ing it more dif­fi­cult to relate to increas­ing­ly tech-savvy youth, grand­par­ents who are rais­ing their grand­chil­dren have a mon­u­men­tal task at hand. 

KYC is hon­ored to sup­port these grand­par­ents and rel­a­tives who are car­ing for a new gen­er­a­tion of kids. Our Care­giv­er Spe­cial­ist, Daxa Sanghvi, MSW, shares more about our Rel­a­tives Rais­ing Chil­dren sup­port group, and how KYC can be an ongo­ing resource for fam­i­lies of all forms.

Sup­port­ing Grand­par­ents Who Are Parenting

By: Daxa Sanghvi, MSW

Begin­ning the Rel­a­tives Rais­ing Chil­dren Group

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Since 2009, I have been hon­ored and excit­ed to offer month­ly meet­ings for old­er adults rais­ing chil­dren. I have learned so much from this group of spe­cial peo­ple. Some con­tin­ue to attend through this day, along­side new grand­par­ents who have also joined the group. Their con­sis­tent atten­dance val­i­dates that shar­ing ideas, learn­ing from oth­ers’ expe­ri­ences, meet­ing oth­ers, and bond­ing with them over the sim­i­lar chal­lenges and rela­tion­ships they face has been sig­nif­i­cant­ly com­fort­ing to them. 

From Grand­par­ent to Parent

Many old­er adults look for­ward to retir­ing, slow­ing down, stay­ing healthy, trav­el­ing, and/​or enjoy­ing their gold­en years.

It’s a very dif­fer­ent sce­nario for a grand­par­ent or rel­a­tive rais­ing a grand­child or anoth­er relative’s child.

Car­ing for a child affects them phys­i­cal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, and finan­cial­ly. It affects their rela­tion­ships with their spouse, oth­er chil­dren, and oth­er grandchildren.

Some­times the child’s par­ents re-enter the child’s life tem­porar­i­ly, but due to one cir­cum­stance or anoth­er, leave again; thus requir­ing grand­par­ents or oth­er famil­ial guardians to re-estab­lish the child’s expec­ta­tions, rules, and their sched­ule. These incon­sis­ten­cies can affect the rela­tion­ship between the grand­par­ent and the grand­child as the child is often hope­ful to have a nor­mal fam­i­ly” and may not be able to estab­lish a strong sense of secu­ri­ty while liv­ing with a grandparent.

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For oth­er chil­dren, they have known their grand­par­ent almost all their lives. Either way, as the child grows, it becomes appar­ent to them that their sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent from oth­ers’. Most chil­dren liv­ing with rel­a­tives have had trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ences, which leaves a long-last­ing impact that may be reflect­ed in behav­ioral issues and learn­ing disabilities. 

The grand­par­ents who have already raised their own chil­dren are once again com­mit­ting to rais­ing a child, ensur­ing that they have a lov­ing, car­ing, and secure home life. It is par­ent­ing all over again. They are dif­fer­ent from oth­er par­ents in the child’s school, and they are dif­fer­ent from oth­er grand­par­ents who enjoy vis­its with their grand­chil­dren for only short peri­ods of time.

Grand­par­ents who are a par­ent” are very spe­cial – they are a devot­ed, com­mit­ted, kind­heart­ed, and thought­ful group of peo­ple, and I salute them.

Nam­ing and Man­ag­ing the Chal­lenges of Rais­ing a Grandchild

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Grand­par­ents or rel­a­tives rais­ing chil­dren sac­ri­fice so much on a dai­ly basis: their time, ener­gy, and finan­cial resources; and they do so dur­ing their senior years. As is true for many par­ents, grand­par­ents rais­ing chil­dren also some­times neglect their own health, as their time and ener­gy are spent man­ag­ing the child’s behav­ior or school­work, while they them­selves age in place. Some­times the grand­par­ents’ spous­es have con­flict­ing views, which can affect their mar­i­tal rela­tion­ships. I have observed cou­ples who can­not make many plans togeth­er or join in each oth­ers’ activ­i­ties, as one of them must be car­ing for the child or chil­dren. Addi­tion­al­ly, care duties may make grand­par­ents feel iso­lat­ed, as they’re unable to meet with their friends due to time con­straints; con­se­quent­ly, this iso­la­tion may lead to depres­sion. Grand­par­ents who are rais­ing chil­dren often miss out on oppor­tu­ni­ties to have fun with oth­er adults that most of us take for granted.

I feel that as a soci­ety, we can rec­og­nize these grand­par­ents who are par­ents, and pri­or­i­tize sup­port­ing them in every way pos­si­ble, to sus­tain their efforts and allow them to take care of them­selves as they care for their grand­chil­dren. Pro­vid­ing some respite so that they can spend some time enjoy­ing the activ­i­ties they would like away from the grand­chil­dren is a good start.

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Recent­ly, AgeOp­tions pro­vid­ed addi­tion­al fund­ing for KYC’s Rel­a­tives Rais­ing Chil­dren Group, for which I am grate­ful. It has allowed me to plan spe­cial events and treats for this group of won­der­ful peo­ple. The grand­par­ents enjoy these activ­i­ties with each oth­er, and their hap­pi­ness is clear­ly appar­ent. We recent­ly held a paint­ing ses­sion where group par­tic­i­pants each cre­at­ed a love­ly mas­ter­piece. Our next group activ­i­ty was host­ing a deli­cious lunch. One ses­sion, our group enjoyed minia­ture golf, where we dis­cov­ered that one of our grand­par­ents is quite a golf star! We also took our group to an escape room, where they had fun deci­pher­ing clues. 

Our group has also pro­vid­ed meals kits for the fam­i­lies who attend, and they great­ly enjoyed select­ing and prepar­ing their meals togeth­er. Dur­ing the ear­ly days of COVID-19 when they were stay­ing at home, our group had restau­rant meals deliv­ered to them so that they could enjoy a break from prepar­ing meals and the cleanup after­wards; each group attendee was pro­vid­ed with a gift bas­ket full of snacks and games to help them enjoy their time togeth­er. These activ­i­ties not only cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for grand­par­ents to enjoy time with their fam­i­lies, but they encour­age rela­tion­ship-build­ing among mem­bers of the group, which in turn allows them to speak more open­ly with one anoth­er dur­ing group ses­sions. Pro­vid­ing this social space also acknowl­edges that many of the pro­grams schools and orga­ni­za­tions host focus on par­ents who are much younger than the old­er adults in this group, which can fur­ther iso­late and stig­ma­tize old­er par­ents. Cre­at­ing this spe­cial space can also pro­vide age-appro­pri­ate activ­i­ties with acces­si­bil­i­ty-accom­mo­dat­ing events to make each group mem­bers feel includ­ed, safe, and comfortable.

Con­tact KYC for Support

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If you are a grand­par­ent or rel­a­tive rais­ing a child, please con­sid­er join­ing a sup­port group to meet oth­ers in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions who can under­stand and sup­port you. 

The com­radery among our group is so mean­ing­ful and heart­warm­ing – I encour­age you to try vis­it­ing a group ses­sion to see how it can make you feel a lit­tle bet­ter by shar­ing your ideas and experiences. 

I wish you all the best on your journey. 

Respect­ful­ly,

Daxa Sanghvi, MSW

Care­giv­er Specialist


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