The role of a Grandparent in their grandchild’s life has been expanding over the years as more and more grandparents are assuming the role of raising their grandchildren. This national trend can been seen in our state, as 10.9% of children in New Mexico are being raised by grandparents (Con Alma Health Foundation, 2017).
Common Challenges For Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
“The biggest is financial,’ said Sly, who is raising her great-granddaughter in Pojoaque. ‘I make biscochitos to sell so that I can have money. I’ve got to always have a little bit of cash for if she wants something. I’ve always promised myself that everything wouldn’t be, ‘no, we don’t have the money’ or ‘no, we can’t afford it,’ so I’ve tried everything I can.’” -Dolores Sly (Santa Fe New Mexican, 2019)
There are several challenges facing Grandparents who have assumed the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Some of these challenges may include:
Financial Needs: There is a high number of grandparents who live on a fixed income. Adding additional family members to the household, places additional stress on the family’s finances.
Emotional Issues: The stress of dealing with the transition from living with the biological parent to their grandparent may be stressful for both the child(ren) and the grandparent(s). Ambiguous loss and grief is another factor that can arise for both grandchildren and grandparents.
Health Issues: In addition to the finaical and emotional issues, Grandparents may be dealing with their own health issues as well as any health issues the grandchildren may have.
Social Isolation: With the addition of the grandchild(ren) to the household, comes a change in lifestyle for the grandparents who are now assuming the caregiver role. This leads to the grandparents putting their social lives and connections on hold while they are dealing with the day-to-day activities in the grandchildren’s lives.
Legal Issues: Access to legal services maybe a barrier to grandparents who are a fixed income.
Education Concerns: Having to maneuver the school system and the technology associated with the educational platforms maybe overwhelming.
Tips for helping Grandchildren transition into their new living arrangement
“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” ~ Rudolph Giuliani
Creating a stable environment: With the disruption of the child’s sense of home, creating a stable environment is crucial to help the child thrive. Establishing routines that are predictable and setting clear, age appropriate house rules help the child to know what is expected from he/she, from the grandparents, and thus help the child to form a secure attachment.
Acknowledge everyone’s feelings: Check in with your grandchild(ren) to see how they are dealing with this transition. If needed, seek additional counseling supports for your grandchild(ren) and/or family. Check-in with yourself too! You are also going through a transition and a lot of feelings maybe coming up for you.
Self-care: At times, physical, emotional, and financial demands in your new role maybe overwhelming. Thus, self-care for grandparents who have assumed the role of raising their grandchildren is crucial.
“I salute all grandparents as well as grandparents who are devoted in raising their grandchildren, who have taken up this wonderful responsibility, which is not an easy task. Such grandparents are truly the ones who deserve to be called ‘grand’!” —Harleena Singh
- American Acedemy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2016) Facts for Families: Grandparents raising grandchildren.
- Administration for Children and Families (2005) Grandparents raising grandchildren: A call to action
- Con Alma Report: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren 2017
- Santa Fe New Mexican interview with Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and referencing Con Alma Report
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