Updated: Jan 20
Our names are Libby, Karen, Sue, Hank, Jim, Kim, Jan, Sue, Bob, Clarissa, Randy, and Wendy.
We are single, married, widowed, or divorced and live in cities or towns in big and little houses, condos, or apartments. We are technicians, clerks, salespeople, teachers, plumbers, ministers, CEO’s, and retired.
We are your neighbors, relatives, and friends.
WHO ARE WE?
We are part of the 2.5 million and growing grandparents who have custody, guardianship, or adopted our grandchild or grandchildren.
Everything we’d hoped would happen as an empty-nester lasted a short while, or never began.
When we catch a few minutes to breathe, we make doctor and dental appointments, serve three meals a day, shop online for appropriate educational or creative toys, attend parent-teacher conferences, soccer games, recitals, and time-consuming court dates.
There are times we question our ability to raise another child, blaming ourselves for what has happened. Everyone in our family has been affected by poor choices, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, or tragic senseless deaths.
Holidays can be nightmares with one of both parents of the grandchild blaming us for all that has happened, sometimes even the parent's siblings are upset because we have little time for our other grandchildren.
Tension is high with conversation limited as one wrong word or gesture could lead to a confrontation where no one will win.
If funds have been put away for retirement they swiftly dwindle, leaving some searching for a program that will help with food, shelter, or daycare.
Some of us are faced with caring for a child with ADHD, ODD, PTSD that many times comes with being born with drugs or alcohol in their systems or traumatic episodes that happened before they came to us.
SOMEONE, PLEASE FIX THIS!
We all know we can’t fix anyone's life but our own. If we could no one would be in this position. Our passion needs to remain with our “littles” that we promised to care for and love..
And yet, as much as we don’t want to admit it, the adage "we are only as happy as our unhappiest child" rings true.
None of our adult children aspired to be an addict or alcoholic when they were growing up. Nor did they invite mental illness into their lives, asked to be homeless, or settle into treatment centers time after time.
We all have opinions and sound advice on what worked or didn't work in staying connected to an adult child and the father/mother of your grandchild. I invite you share your stories on a newly created private Facebook page entitled Grandparents United, the link at the bottom of this page.
I DON'T FIT IN.
Our friends haven’t left us, per se, but lead a totally different lifestyle, making it difficult to identify.
A lunch or dinner date with a friend or even a spouse is almost impossible. And Lord knows sitting in a toddler play-date class or on the bleachers in a school with parents our children’s age usually doesn't lead to a lasting friendship.
So how do we have a life when we’re so busy we can't plan anything beyond the next half-hour? For me, it took an attitude adjustment. Before bringing Lukas home, most days were spent writing for hours and days on end. All I ever wanted to be was an author and retired early as a director of marketing to pursue a career in writing that I'd waited a lifetime to begin.
I fought to continue to write for a while after Lukas settled in. I mean, why can’t I write and still raise a child? The answer: because it didn't work. I am a widow and although Luke's uncle lives with us and helps tremendously he has a career and life that he has the right to pursue. He is with Lukas most nights and takes him to fun places on weekends, builds snowmen, throws snowballs, and tosses him on beds. I am extremely lucky that I have support.
Even with this support, I came to a peaceful realization that Lukas needs me more than fictitious characters. : ) If I happen to get up before Lukas in the morning or during the afternoon when he actually naps I sink back into my imaginary world, typing as fast as I can. Last December my eighth book was published, even though it took two years to complete.
I’m doing what was planned for my life long before I was in on the secret. I absolutely love watching this little man grow up healthy and happy, in spite of dozens of time in the day this strong-willed three-year-old shouts, “NO, NANA!” that resounds loudly through the house whenever he’s told to do something he doesn’t want to do.
I know the time will come when we will have “the talk” that none of us look forward to. He will ask me why he lives here and not Mommy and Daddy. I prepare often for this chat, even though it probably won’t happen for three or four more years.
I have promised myself never to use the words “unfit” or “unwanted.” I want Luke to know his parents loved him but were unable to care for him. Even though I predict he will be angry and sad I will try my best to teach the power of forgiveness and how it not only changes our lives but those we love.
I have known too many grandparents and family members who talk poorly about a son, or nephew, or a cousin and turn a child against their own parent. Our grandchildren trust and believe the role models in their lives. Anger doesn't have a place in raising mentally healthy, well-adjusted children.
I have learned through experience that healing a broken heart is a much gentler process and often times leads to forgiveness, but a hardened heart can take years to peel away the layers in order to discover the source of pain.
I have started a private Facebook page entitled GRANDPARENTS UNITED that provides a safe and private place to chat, discuss, and post frustrations and challenges of raising a grandchild or grandchildren. Topics include discussion how to keep our connection with adult children, family crisis, and the ups and downs of raising grandchildren. Where to go for help in financial distress, school policies on helping a child diagnosed with challenges, as well as other issues that arise. I feel there is a need for this type of Grandparent group and a ton of knowledge that can be shared.
All input is welcome in this non-judgmental group of grandparents where everyone empathizes and understands the journey of caring for a child who needs us more than anyone else in the world.
GRANDPARENTS UNITED: https://www.facebook.com/groups/grandsunite/