If the acronym GRG or GAP mean anything to you then you’re likely aware of how common it is to have grandparents raising grandchild or grandparents as parents.
Skipped generation families are becoming more common for a plethora of socio-economic reasons that you could write a novel about. It is often an extremely complex situation, with many unresolved issues. Addictions, teen pregnancy, incarcerated parents, and parent deaths are the main reasons why we are seeing a shift in the family dynamic of grandparents being the primary care giver. While we are used to seeing families in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours, there’s still a stigma around the concept of grandparents stepping into the role of parent.
The situations surround why a grandparent may have custody of a grandchild can cause high-stress levels. Guilt or shame can be a contributing factor too if the grandparent feels responsible for whatever harm the biological parents may be in. Perhaps also dealing with their own health issues, or financial burdens, taking on the additional role of care taker can create a sense of worry or fear that lingers in their daily lives. Skipped generation families can spend quite a bit of time in court, too. Issues can be similar to those in divorce situations, with the tangled web of generations of trauma.
Not all things related to skipped generation families are stressful, by any means. There are lots of beautiful memories and silver linings. Grandparents often speak of a renewed sense of youth and purpose. While it can feel isolating from their own aged peers, grandparents raising grandchildren tend to feel more energetic and active, having to keep up with the children as they play, keeping healthy while taking baby out for a stroll, volunteering at school functions and being the chaperones at sporting events. They are not likely, however, likely to be in the same social circles as other parents with young children so it can be difficult to make friends for their grandchildren or to be a part of the local ‘mom groups’ or playdates. Making parent-friends when all your friends have already retired can be a challenge, but one that can be made easier by being a familiar presence at your local park or community centre.
Creating moments of fun, and stress-free play opportunities that may get overlooked. As grandparents in a parental role, it’s the small stuff that gets missed out on like treating your grandbaby to an ice cream while babysitting, or taking them to a playground while Mom and Dad get errands done. You are the parent in this case, you are the one in charge of the errands. Take the time to play too. You’ve earned it!
Being able to provide a safe space and a stable environment for their grandchildren to thrive is a great accomplishment that one should feel proud of.