Raising children is something often done by parents in the prime of their life, typically between the ages of 20 and 50. By the time retirement comes around, most of the children are off on their own, leaving the parents to finally take a well-deserved rest.
Aside from occasional contact with their young grandchildren, grandparents can live their lives free of the responsibility of raising youngsters. But what happens when the grandparent suddenly becomes the primary caregiver for their grandchild or grandchildren?
Grandparents raising grandchildren is a scenario that often arises due to an unforeseen circumstance involving their adult children - whether it be their untimely passing, a drastic life change like a divorce or a move, or an unfortunate occurrence like incarceration or hospitalization. When this happens, everyone involved faces many challenges as they struggle with handling their new lifestyle.
When a grandparent becomes the primary caregiver for their grandchild or grandchildren, emotional challenges may arise. There may be feelings of loss or devastation if death or a medical emergency led to the change in circumstances. Children may be coping with feelings of abandonment and experiencing separation anxiety.
The lives of everyone, including the grandparent, may remain in a state of upheaval for several months or even years. While dealing with their own emotional challenges, the grandparent can be faced with the difficult task of raising their grandchild or grandchildren at an advanced age.
Counseling with a licensed therapist, support groups, teachers, coaches, and fellow grandparents can all be great assets during this time of transition. The sooner help is sought, the sooner healing can begin.
When planning for retirement, finances are often carefully calculated to include the expenses of only one or two people - depending on if a spouse is involved or not. Adding in one or more children can create a huge financial burden on the grandparent that was completely unexpected.
Financial extras like a larger grocery bill, medical expenses for the child, back to school supplies, the cost of sports and hobbies for the child, and potential college funds are all things that can arise while caring for the new members of the household.
Meeting with a financial expert is a way to handle the financial changes that can occur when a grandparent becomes responsible for raising their grandchild or grandchildren. They can plan out a budget and allocate assets.
There's a reason most people choose to have children when they are younger. As the body ages, keeping up with little ones becomes increasingly difficult.
Grandparents must keep their health always at the forefront of their minds, even if their time is now mostly consumed with caring for their grandchildren. Staying active, eating healthy, getting enough rest, taking prescribed medications, and visiting the doctor regularly are all excellent ways to keep the mind and body in tip-top shape while raising kids.
Finding time to stay fit may seem impossible, but fitness centers often offer daycare at their facilities, giving grandparents plenty of opportunities to exercise. Check with local churches and recreation centers for babysitters when the need arises, as well.
Challenging but Rewarding
Grandparents raising grandchildren can come with many challenges, but it also offers countless rewards. Being able to spend quality time with grandchildren can keep them youthful and happy, regardless of the situation that led them there. The added bonus of having experience raising children can make this time around much more enjoyable.