When our children grew up, we automatically assumed we were finished with the day to day child care thing. After our daughter got married, pregnant, and divorced, I found myself being responsible for a small human being again. With little help from her spouse, we felt we were her only avenue to a fairly stable situation. We offered to take our grandson and let him live with us until she got on her feet. He was 2. The only problem was, she was pregnant again. We kept our grandson and then 8 weeks after our granddaughter was born, I picked her up.
What are the ground rules for assisting your kids at 24? I wasn’t sure if taking on this responsibility, meant we qualified as a failure in raising our daughter, but it sort of felt like it. Even though she wasn’t addicted to anything or sick, the struggles I saw in her life made me wonder about the things we didn’t prepare her for. I guess you have to realize that there are over 4.5 million children being raised by grandparents in this country. Growing as I write. The experience of taking on this enormous challenge, changed my life. Just having the feeling I might have failed the first time, made me more determined than ever to get it right the second time.
I knew from the beginning we would not have them permanently. I wasn’t sure what the time frame would be. I did know that at the ages they were at, it was going to be an adventure. We traveled from Dallas to Jacksonville, Fla on a Greyhound Bus. Because I had the good fortune to have made approx. the same trip 23 years before with my own son and daughter, I used that valuable information to survive the trip.
I was wary from the beginning at the prospect of losing my 2 year old grandson to the crowd. I brought along a kids size pull along suitcase and encouraged him the whole trip to pull it. It became a game. Needless to say, we arrived in Jacksonville in tact. After arriving is when the true adventure began. My granddaughter at 8 weeks was not familiar enough with her Nana to cooperate freely. She began crying almost immediately. We walked and ate and burped and changed diapers and loved on her for weeks. She finally calmed down and everything sort of fell into place. My husband was probably the biggest support. For not having spent much time with ours, (sign of the times), he was a godsend. He helped with anything he could. We accessed as many resources from our area as possible. The other people that were doing the same thing we were doing, were a big support system. I think that is the real deal here. If you are in this position, reach out. There are a lot of grandparents that are becoming parents again to help a grown child, for various reasons. Hopefully if it is drugs or something destructive, they will seek the help they need.
We continued this journey with these two wonderful children for almost 2 years. We exposed them to the wonders of the ocean, and spent as much time as possible, traveling and giving them every minute of fun and learning we could. My daughter was able to finish school and is currently providing her family with income and with a mother who loves them very much. The experience gave me confidence that I didn’t fail as a parent. We have made an impact in two lives that will carry forever. They still come each summer. At 6 1/2 and 4 1/2, it is apparent they spent that time with us. The things they say, and think of, show how living with two older and experienced people, made an impact on them.
Now, I just flew to Dallas and picked up my other daughter’s little girl, 13 months, to do the same thing again. No, I am not a glutton for punishment. I don’t know how I would have said no to the exact same kind of situation, we had helped with before. We both agreed, we had to offer her the opportunity to put things back together after a nasty divorce. Allow her to finish the valuable education she had so wanted to complete. After being left without the benefit of savings or full time income, she was on the verge of complete destitution.
For many reasons,” not helping her”, was not the thought that entered our minds. We never even considered that. With the growing problem of single mothers, grandparents should jump at the chance to offer assistance if possible. There was an old saying,”It takes a village to raise a child”. Sometimes it appears we have lost that concept of responsibility. It shouldn’t be a burden, but an opportunity to offer advice, skills, and more. We say, “If we could only go back and take the knowledge we have now”. I guess for us, this has been that chance. We cherish the time we can have these precious people. Daisy is a character. She is very intelligent for 13 months and is picking up sign language, that we found very helpful with our first two. For the things she cannot express, this is wonderful.
Grand-parenthood is tough, but rewarding. You are needed out there. Don’t forfeit the opportunity, if it arises. Not only will you, hopefully, help your child. You will benefit your grandchild and yourself. The previous trial and error period is an great reference guide on the second time around. As much as money is a true factor in this challenge, it shouldn’t be the determining factor. You would be amazed as the things you can adjust to and use to contain costs.Education is the key to making this situation work, regardless of the reasons why it happened. Educate yourself on resources, options and the best interests of the children.
To access resources on the internet, just use keywords like grandparenthood, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc. These give you many links to stuff in many areas.