Support group for grandparents serving as parents to their grandchildren

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(Posted Dec. 13, 2019)

By Laura Eldridge, family and community engagement specialist
Action for Children

I think that most of us would agree that “Grandparents make the world … a little softer, a little kinder, and a little warmer.” (author unknown)

The special relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent is unparalleled. It is a unique and everlasting bond, different from all others. Personally speaking, becoming a grandmother was, by far, one of the most exciting and beautiful experiences in my life.

Most grandparents naturally assume that their role as the primary parent concludes once their offspring move out and have children of their own–that they are now free to enjoy their retirement or pursue new aspirations. And some have the good fortune to do so. However, times have radically changed and grand-parenting is no longer simply visits during the holidays, babysitting, or attending birthday parties.

For many, grand-parenting has become an inescapable reality. Their own children, for a plethora of circumstances, are no longer able to provide for their young ones. In fact, children raised primarily by grandparents totaled 2.9 million in 2008, an increase of 6 percent from the year before. The Census Bureau found the average time children spent in their grandparents’ care also increased, from 13 hours a week in 2005 to 14 to 16 hours per week in 2006. Although the phenomenon of grandparents serving as the sole caregiver is more prevalent in communities that live below the poverty level, it touches families of all socio-economic levels.

Grandparents, once again, are powdering baby bottoms, feeding, clothing, taking children to and from school, and dealing with temper tantrums or unruly teenagers. They are trying to cope with a host of issues, such as physical limitations, financial difficulties, serious health concerns, emotional stress and legal entanglements. Unlike young parents, grandparents often do not have sufficient social systems (family and friends) or relevant information they desperately need and deserve to cope with this overwhelming responsibility.

To address this growing concern in our community, Madison County Public Health and Action for Children are teaming up to implement a grandparent support group in the spring of 2020. We want to offer a warm, casual setting that is informative, compassionate and fun. However, we need your help. We’d like to know more about you and what your needs are. Whether you have been parenting another generation for some time now, or this is a brand new experience for you, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Please feel free to contact Susan Young R.N., at (740) 852-3065 or me, Laura Eldridge, LSW, (740) 604-0182.

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