Grandparents Raising Their Grandchild
Grandparents Rearing Child(ren)
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 lifestyle, 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 grandchild(ren) 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(ren). If the parent has died, gone away, or been abusive or neglectful, the grandchild(ren) will most likely harbor feelings of sadness and anger. It is important that the grandchild(ren) understand that these emotions are both natural and healthy. If at all possible, allowing the child(ren) to spend time with the parents in a SAFE and HEALTHY environment is always encouraged. For the most part, professional counseling for the child(ren) is a very effective and in some instances necessary way to address many of these and other emotional issues.
Resources & Tools
GRANDPARENTS DO HAVE RIGHTS -- Grandparents in every state have rights, in some circumstances, to be awarded custody of their grandchildren or to be awarded court-mandated visitation with them. However, grandparents' rights are not constitutional in nature, nor do they exist in common law. Recognition of grandparents' rights by state legislatures is a fairly recent trend, and most of the statutes have been in effect for less than 35 years.
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