According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000, 5.8 million people were living with grandchildren younger than 18 years old. Among these grandparents, 2.4 million were also grandparent caregivers who had primary responsibility for their grandchildren. These numbers are astounding, and I am one of those grandparents.
So, why are there so many grandparents raising grandchildren today? Unfortunately, social problems, economics and parents fighting wars in foreign countries have a lot to do with the growing number of baby boomersand the like, raising their children’s children. The growing number of alcohol and drug-related problems can attribute to many other factors including incarceration, abuse and neglect, mental illness, catastrophic illness and death. The failing economy that has been in the news spotlight for quite some time now, may lead to loss of employment and homelessness.
Grandchildren who are left in the care of their grandparents may exhibit many social problems themselves, causing great stress on the grandparents who are taking care of them. These problems include: anger, hostility, depression, fear and resentment which may lead to involvement with drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy and gang association.
Grandparents who are doing their best to help their grandchildren may also suffer the effects of the stress which may be compounded by financial difficulties, health problems. The challenges of raising grandchildren are often great; however, there are a number of ways to reduce the effects that I put into my GRANDCOACH method of overcoming the challenges of raising grandchildren.
G – Getting assistance through local, state and government agencies and organizations may help you with food, financial and health care issues, legal assistance and finding support groups.
R – Relaxation and stress management techniques can help you gain focus and clarity on the issues and concerns in your household.
A – Asking questions can help build stronger relationships and reduce the risk of grandchildren getting into trouble.
N – Nutrition and wellness is important for all family members in dealing with stress. Nutrition and wellness keeps us healthy in mind, body and soul.
D – Discipline strategies that incorporate love, positive reinforcement and consequences help build stronger and healthier relationships, and reduce conflicts and misbehavior.
C – Communicating, coaching, counseling and conflict resolution are options when issues of stress and emotions are creating conflict and mental health concerns, for both grandparents and grandchildren.
O – Organization of time and space are necessary with additional family members in the home.
A – Activities are a great way for grandchildren to reduce the stress they are feeling and help build communication, leadership and socialization skills.
C – Children’s temperament is an area all parents and grandparents should be aware of in order to build effective levels of communication and understanding among family members.
H – Hierarchy of needs, developed by Abraham Maslow, can help explain some of the reactions your grandchildren may be experiencing with their new living arrangements.