More and more grandparents and other kinship caregivers are taking on the gigantic responsibility of raising children. Most are unprepared for this life altering addition to the family. Most have not raised children in many years, others have never had children to care for. Child Protective Services are doing a better job of providing resource information, they do background checks and home visits. They make certain a child has a safe home, a bed and adults who are in the home. The grandparent receives little help to prepare them for parenthood. How does a grandmother learn to enroll her child in school, set up play dates or how to interact with teachers and other parents? There is no intentional training, no support, no help for these daily life issues that arise.
These support and educational systems must be accessed by the individual who has just become a parent again, a guardian (I love that word), a kinship caregiver for them to be successful without becoming worn out like a dishrag. Many communities now have support groups. Ask the local schools, churches, senior citizen centers and people in the grocery stores if they know of a support group. Many times Social Services will not be aware of the many opportunities that exist in the community.
Find a group that fits your needs and the needs of your child(ren). It can make the difference in having food on the table or going hungry. The other group members will become friends, support and provide a safe place to go when you need to talk. Without strong support, a house will be weak and eventually crumble. People are the same way; we require continual building up. Do not be afraid or too proud to ask. Every other grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister who has become a surprised parent has felt the same way. No one is exempt from feeling overwhelmed and unsure, regardless of their circumstances.
For further resources on this subject go to: https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/promoting/protectfactors/concrete_supports.cfm
Another great place is Generations United. You can find resources, information, tips and ideas for coping and an idea of how others are doing this successfully. http://www.gu.org/
I will be posting more about this subject. As I get older and my grandson also grows, new developments keep me on my toes. I find the type of support I need also changes. Enjoy the journey. I certainly am!