There are many stressors in life. Grandparents raising grandchildren are more stressed than parents raising their own children. Many factors contribute to this.
Children cost a lot. Grandparents are often not prepared to handle the cost when the unexpected role of caregiver lands in their laps.
Many grandparents are retired. So they are on Medicare. When I was outsourced out of a job at 63, I had to find health insurance since I was losing the insurance I had through my employer. I was fortunate enough to find some I could afford, but it cut into the Social Security that already wasn’t enough, considering I hadn’t planned to retire for at least two more years. My grandson was on Medicaid because we weren’t his legal guardians at the time. That helped, as paying for insurance for him would have been very, very hard. Many grandparents are worse situations.
If the child doesn’t qualify for Medicaid because the grandparents make too much, he may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS). This program is not based on the grandparents’ income unless the child has been adopted. The child or children must live with the home of the person applying for CHIPS.
As of the date of this article, the CHIPS program is in danger. The federal government provides part of the money, the state part of it. The program was set to expire on September 30 of this year. Senators announced they had agreed on a plan to extend CHIPS for five years. But they will cut back on the increase in funding that was originally in the plan. And the plan must be approved by the end of this month. If this program lapses, the 8.9 million children covered by it will be without any health insurance.
You can contact http://www.insurekidsnow.gov to see if these programs will work for you.
Some grands co-raise the child with the parent. So the child often doesn’t qualify for either program.
Older people who downsized and then were thrust into the caretaker role for their grandchildren scramble to make it comfortable for everyone. They may not have enough bedrooms if taking in more than one child. They need to consider safeguarding the home if the child is still very young. The child may come with belongings and the grandparent has to move their things to make room for the child’s things.
The child may also come into their care with next to nothing. The grandparents have to buy the necessities.
Consider that 19 percent of grandparents raising grandchildren live below the poverty line, according to the 2000 Census.
Even those who have enough to live on comfortably are stretched by the extra expense of raising children.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS
Grandparents feel stressed by the dual role they have to play as grandparents and parents. There is sort of a role confusion associated with this, too.
Often there is social isolation because of the role these grandparents play. Other children have friends with parents near the same age, and the parents find things in common. Children raised in their grandparents’ homes may feel different because their caretakers are different. The grandparents become somewhat isolated from their peers since they are not free to travel. They can’t meet friends any time of day. They can’t do many of the things others their age do. Sometimes the grandparents are already feeling the isolation of being retired after a long work history. Sometimes they are still working but don’t have the stamina they once did, so their caretaker role takes a greater toll than it did at a younger age. In any event, stress builds because of all this.
Many children are in the care of their grandparents because the parents are addicted, in jail, or have severe emotional problems. These types of situations are stressful enough. They cause worry, anger, grieving, bewilderment, and just plain hurt. Still, they have to put this aside to raise the children.
Children are often dealing with feelings they are too young to understand. They may feel abandoned. Confusion and emotional pain follow. Grandparents must help them deal with these feelings too.
Drug addicts’ children can have a variety of physical, mental, and emotional issues. Abused children display these problems too. The grandparents are not usually prepared for all of this. They need to learn to observe and identify symptoms. Finding treatment for these issues can be like making your way through a maze. This causes stress. Watching the child go through these things hurts. It is not easy to find help. This adds to the frustration and fatigue. It makes grandparents feel alone and adds more stress.
There is also the issue of dealing with the parents of these grandchildren. There is usually a tremendous emotional toll because of the reasons that the parents are not raising the children. That is a strain in itself. Then there is the question of whether the child sees the parent and when and under what conditions. Making those decisions takes both compassion and toughness.
If the parent is deceased, the grandparents must deal with tremendous grief. This comes at a time when they are taking on the demanding role of parenting that child’s children.
Grandparents, by virtue of being older, have more health issues. This makes it harder to care for the grandchildren full-time.
It’s hard to play ball with a child if you have problems with breathing or walking. It is painful if you have arthritis. Lifting young children is not easy for someone with back pain.
As we age, our health requires more attention. Raising grandchildren means less time and money for our health problems.
I am learning more and more as I continue to research grandchildren living with grandparents. So many out there have encouraged me and am so thankful to them!
There seems to be a trend, though, that disturbs me. Several organizations and blogs have not been active in the past few years.
While the number of custodial grandparents rises, the resources seem to be changing and dwindling. Each state has different rules. This makes it hard to decide what is available in your area. In my experience, even DSS gave me conflicting information several times.
I understand the fading of grandparent blogs. The grandchildren grow up. After all that energy spent, the grandparent decides to rest. I’m sure that the changing and disappearance of organizations and agencies is due to an interest in cutting the government budget. Everyone wants to pay less tax, right? There are groups fighting for that tax money.
But the grandparents who still struggle need the support. If the present trend continues, more grandparents and other relatives will need support.
What can we do to help ourselves and the future grandparents who will be raising their grandchildren? Make a noise!! Campaign actively for change. Don’t let lawmakers or society ignore us because we’re old. It’s not really about us anyway, is it? It is to help the children grow into happy, healthy adults.
I am trying to put together as much specific information as possible. As I said, the information is a bit fragmented since things are different in each state. As soon as I decide on a logical way to organize the information, I will be adding that to my blog. So please stick around. The information could be useful for you or someone you know.