Are you a grandparent raising your grandchildren as a result of their parents’ inability to care for them due to a substance abuse problem? At a time of life where you anticipated being free of the responsibilities that come with raising a family, your daily life is preoccupied with the school routine, transporting children to extra curricula activities, time constraints, discipline, parent/teacher interviews and financial sacrifices (to name just a few). It can be a very lonely and isolating experience, observing your friends as they enjoy their ‘life after children’ and the freedom to pursue activities that you can only dream of!
It is normal to experience a range of conflicting emotions as you grapple with your present reality:
- Grief and Loss – The hopes and dreams you held such as travel, financial freedom, work satisfaction, a richer social life, a new hobby has taken a ’back shelf’ to the necessity of providing a home for your grandchildren.
- Happiness and Joy – The unexpected pleasure of being connected in a more intimate way with your grandchildren and experience their own development milestones and achievements.
- Disappointment and Anger – You adult child cannot take responsibility for their children or their own wellbeing. Promises are repeatedly made and broken.
- Sadness – You witness the sadness, disappointment and confusion that your grandchildren experience at the hand of their parent.
- Helplessness – You are aware of your physical and health limitations having to parent for ‘a second time’ and you feel powerless to change the situation.
As care-giver to your grandchildren, you have a responsibility to access the support you need to care for your health and wellbeing.
Here are 5 tips that will provide you with the support you need as you raise your grandchildren:
- Talk with a friend or counsellor. This may help to clarify things in your mind and help you to work out how to handle the situation.
- Join a support group. Sharing your thoughts and experiences with other people who are facing or have faced the same issues, can help you to cope better and feel less isolated.
- Familiarise yourself with the relevant drug and its effects. Understanding how it works and why people become dependent on drugs will help you understand what your child is going through.
- Try to balance supporting your child with making sure the grandchildren are safe, happy and secure.
- Look after yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s important to look after yourself so you can be a good carer and can support your grandchildren.