If you are a grandparent who after raising your own children find that you are now raising your grandchildren, you are not alone. According to the 2000 census 2 1/2 million households consisted of grandparents raising their grandchildren. It’s estimated that due to the increase in teen births, illegal drug use, and divorce the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren will have increased significantly when the results of the 2010 census are revealed. Raising a child is an enormous and often challenging task for anyone. This is especially true for those in their twilight years who may also be dealing with health issues or a decline in finances due to retirement. Knowing how and where to find the resources and support necessary to meet the needs of your grandchild and yourself can be a daunting task for grandparents. To help make things easier here are ten tips for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
Ten Tips For Raising Grandchildren That Every Grandparent Needs To Know
1. Health Coverage
Make sure you have health care coverage for your grandchildren as Doctor visits and prescriptions can be quite costly. Some states have recently passed legislation requiring health insurance plans to cover dependent grandchildren under a working grandparents health coverage plan. If this is not an option grandparents can contact their local Medicaid office and apply for health benefits on behalf of the grandchildren. Medical coverage through Medicaid is based on the child’s income and whether or not there is private insurance available to the child.
2. Financial Assistance
Many grandparents live on a fixed income and the additional financial responsibility of caring for their grandchild can make finances extremely tight.Grandparents who find themselves in this position can apply for government benefits such as cash aid, food stamps and daycare assistance. This program is called TANF ( Temporary Aid To Needy Families) and grandparents can apply for the entire household or just for the child in their care. When applying for benefits for the entire household all income and property of the house hold will be used in determining eligibility and there is a limit on the amount of time the household can receive benefits. However if the grandparent is only applying for financial assistance for the child, called a Child Only Grant, only the child’s income will be used to determine eligibility and there is no limit on the amount of time the child can receive assistance. To apply for either grant grandparents will need to contact their local social services office. In addition to TANF benefits children who have a deceases parent maybe eligible to survivor benefits through the Social Security Administration office.
3. Create A Safe And Healthy Environment
If you will be caring for your grandchildren you will need to make sure that your home is a safe and healthy place to live. Insure that all medications and household cleaners are kept out of reach of children by either locking them up or keeping them out of reach at all times. You may find a refresher in child proofing your home beneficial. Safety First www.safety1st.com has a child proofing checklist on their website that you can print out and use to make sure your home is as safe as possible. In addition you will want to cook nutritious meals and have adequate equipment to meet your grandchild’s needs. If you can’t afford equipment such cribs, strollers etc you might want try looking on Craigslist www.craigslist for free or inexpensive items. Just make sure you check to see if there has been a recall on any used item you purchase.
4. Set Limits
Children need structure and limits so don’t be afraid to set them. You are now acting in the role of parent and will need to establish and enforce rules in your home. Not doing so can result in a child who doesn’t listen to you or respect your authority which can make raising them very difficult.
5. Seek Legal Assistance
If you have a grandchild living with you its always wise to seek legal advice and or assistance.At the very least grandparents need a document giving them power of attorney to make important decisions on behalf of their grandchildren and to allow them to authorize medical care. Many states allow parents to sign a simple medical consent form that allows parents to give permission to grandparents to authorize medical care for their children.Some grandparents may also want to seek legal custody of their grandchildren this is especially true when the parent is unable to care for the child due to illegal drug abuse, incarceration or in instances of neglect and or physical abuse. Grandparents seeking legal custody or adoption of a grandchild will definitely need to seek the assistance of an attorney as being awarded legal custody or adoption can be a complicated and difficult process.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
When caring for grandchildren full time its easy to overlook your own health and wellness. However doing so is not in either your best interest or your grandchildren. In many cases grandparents are the only people a child has to care for the and if they get sick from neglecting their own health and can no longer care for their grandchild then the child;d will be left with no one. Grandparents can insure they stay in tip top shape and are able to care for their grandchildren by keeping all scheduled Doctor appointments, taking any medications as prescribed. eating healthy, staying active and arranging for a break of even a couple of hours if caring for their grandchildren is getting too stressful.
7. Show Love
Many times children who come to live with their grandparents have not received adequate care or affection from their parents and may be resistant to your affectionate overtures at first. Don’t give up though, continue to show your grandchildren you love them by spending time listening to what they have to say, respecting their opinions and working out differences by compromising when you don’t agree.
8. Watch What You Say
It can be tempting to complain about the child’s dead beat parent to grandchildren but doing so is a big mistake.Children love their parents no matter what and hearing someone continually put their parents down and talk bad about them can cause the child to feel bad and be resentful of their grandparents. So no matter how mad you are at the child’s parents remember to keep your feelings to yourself or only express them when you are certain you won’t be overheard by l your grandchildren.
9. Get Support
Raising a child can be a challenging process and grandparents may find them selves overwhelmed by their new role as full time parents.Talking to other grandparents who are facing the same types of challenges can be very beneficial. There are many on line and in person support groups for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. To find one grandparents can contact The AARP Grandparent Information Center, The American Self-Help Clearinghouse and Grandparents As Parents Parents.
10. Enjoy Your Grandchildren
The most important tip of all is to enjoy being with your and children and having the opportunity to raise them in a way that will ensure that they grow to be well balanced and happy adults.
by K.R. Tremblay, Jr., C.E. Barber and L. Kubin
Grandparents as Parents by K.R. Tremblay, Jr., C.E. Barber and L. Kubin
Grandparents as Parents Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren