Many grandparents are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the children’s own parents are not able or willing to do so. Grandparents take on this obligation when the grandchildren’s own parents abandon them or when the children can no longer live with them because of the parent’s mental disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration. These children who suffer abuse from their own parents may feel insecure afraid! They may be angry at their situation and even embarrassed by it.
It will take time for these children to feel safe and secure. You can encourage these good feelings and ease their adjustment to their new home in a number of ways:
I. Legal Status
1. Adoption: Adoption cuts off all of the birth parents’ rights and responsibilities. The grandparent becomes the parent in the eyes of the law. 2. Legal custody: When you get a custody order from the court, you are responsible for the child’s day-to-day care. Custody is granted based on the best interests of the child.
A custody order is never permanent. The parents continue to have legal rights, such as the right to visit the child, unless a judge denies or limits the visits. You may still need a parent’s permission to make medical decisions or to enroll the child in school. Parents could regain custody again someday. 3. Guardianship: Being a legal guardian allows you to make important decisions for the child. You can enroll the child in school and give permission for a healthcare provider to treat the child. A birth parent can go to court and ask for the guardianship to be ended. If this happens, the care and custody of the child is returned to the parent.
1. The costs of raising grandchildren will affect your finances. It may change plans you have made for yourself such as retirement or vacations. 2. Government assistance may help cover food, housing, clothing, and mental healthcare. For example, your grandchildren may be eligible to receive Social Security payments if they have a disability or if their parents have died. Your grandchild may qualify for your state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. He or she may be eligible to get money from your state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Each state has its own programs for assisting children. Contact your state’s Department of Human Services or Social Services to find out what is available in your area. It is important to look into programs that can help with financial burdens. Using up savings and trying to work while caring for young children can be a strain that many grandparents cannot manage for long.
1. Children need regular checkups and shots. Your grandchildren may have mental or physical health problems that need special care. You may be able to get help from your state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid pays healthcare bills for people with low incomes. 2. You also need to take care of your own health. Take time each day to relax. Get regular checkups and take your prescribed medicines. Ask for help from friends and relatives. Join a support group.
IV. Education and Adjustment
1. Check with your local school to find out how to enroll your grandchild. Some states won’t let you enroll a child unless you have legal custody or guardianship. In other states, you only need to show that your grandchild lives with you. After your grandchild is enrolled, get to know the child’s teacher. 2. Set up a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities so that the children have some fun and predictability in their lives. 3. Help your grandchildren to feel that they are “home” by making room for them and their belongings. Your home needs to be welcoming, safe, and child-friendly. 4. Talk to your grandchildren, and make sure that the children know that they can always talk to you.
5. Practice or instill them positive discipline that emphasizes education, not punishment, and that results good behavior. 6. Set up a few rules, and explain the rules to the children. Then, enforce them consistently. 7. You have to read a short story or comedy for them because children love to hear stories, and even older children may surprise you by sitting quietly as you read aloud. Children who see you read have a better chance of becoming readers themselves. Reading makes a perfect man and mature.