When grandparenting becomes a full-time job

Created date

July 20th, 2015
grandmother and grandchild
grandmother and grandchild

Back in Frankfurt, Germany, my parents went out to work every day (my mother helping in my father’s business), and so my paternal grandmother spent a lot of time raising me. I credit what she taught me for much of my success, so I fully appreciate what grandparents have to offer. 

But my grandmother didn’t have the sole duty of raising me. In today’s world, there are many grandparents who have become the sole caregivers for one or more grandchildren—for example, a parent may have an ongoing health issue or problems with addiction, or worse. 

Don’t go it alone

The best advice I can offer for those in that position is to get help. Don’t play the stoic and attempt to shoulder the entire burden. As you get older, you have to conserve your various resources, whether it be your energy, your need for adult companionship, or your finances. Having to raise children will place a large burden on all of those. So don’t wait until you’ve depleted your body, your psyche, and your bank account. Reach out to anyone who can lend a hand in one way or another. That includes other relatives, social service agencies, schools, friends and neighbors, fellow members of your church or synagogue, just about anyone you can think of. 

It’s easy to be shy about asking for assistance. Even when others specifically offer, the first words to come out of your mouth might be “Thanks, but I can manage.” That’s why I want you to make a list of what you need help with and carry it with you. That way if someone volunteers to help you, you won’t find yourself at a loss for words. If you have a list available to hand over, not only will that make it easier for you but also for potential volunteers, who might be willing to help out occasionally or take on a regular task. 

While you’ll get a lot of joy taking care of a grandchild, there’s no denying that it will be hard and you’ll want and need all the support you can get.