Due to many changes throughout society (increase in divorce, seniors living longer, financial challenges) the role of grandparents is changing rapidly. How can grandparents help their grandchildren? To be a constant presence when other things change and to love them unconditionally. Grandparents can connect the generations in ways that the grandchildren can accept and appreciate. In the cases where the adult children are struggling, the grandparents can provide emotional, physical and spiritual support for the adults--which in turn helps the grandchildren. When parents are stressed for time or energy, grandparents can fill in the gaps. The grandparents can be an important figure in the grandchildren's lives by listening and encouraging.
A special challenge exists when grandparents must function as parents. Often the adult child/parents suffers from substance abuse problems or mental health challenges. Other instances that might require grandparents to step into that role includes incarceration, death, or deployment. The grandparents suffer from lower physical energy, over protectiveness, and lack of understanding of societal challenges. The grandparents often must postpone retirement because of the financial hardships of raising their grandchildren and preparing for college. One of the saddest things that happen in these cases is that the grandparents must grieve the loss of the fun grandparent role.
Often because of financial hardships, it becomes necessary for adult children to move to their parents' home with their children. This presents unique challenges also. It can be necessary for the adult parent and/or the children to undergo counseling. Often it is necessary to set time limits, to discuss monetary issues (such as sharing expenses), and to be clear when it comes to "house rules" Adult kid still need a mentor, cheerleader or, advisor.
Are you or your family facing any of these challenges? There are several ways that Helen Wheeler and The Center for Families can help you. Family counselingwould certainly be appropriate in this circumstance to allow everyone to speak their minds with respect. Also,Family mediationwould be helpful to clarify and solve problems--both financial and otherwise. It is possible to have a warm fulfilling relationship when everyone understands and appreciates the challenges. Call us and let us help your family with these and other issues. For information regarding the costs involved in family counseling and mediation, please consult those respective pages.
Here is an audio of a workshop Helen did in 2012 concerning the role of grandparents