Through the journey of raising my granddaughter, my family has found that connecting with our larger community helps us in many ways.
If you are responsible for raising grandchildren, seeking support from your surrounding community can help your family engage with the world in a more satisfying and stimulating way, make lasting and nurturing social connections, and learn things that can help your child excel and achieve throughout their lifetime.
Socialization and Normalization
Chances are that when you first started your family, those in your social circle started their families at around the same time. It was easy to find playdates, family activities, and social events. Once your own children are grown, however, you probably became involved in your own adult-centered activities and interests. It’s easy to lose touch with the things we shared with our young ones.
When a young one enters your life in the later years, you no longer have the convenience of a ready-made social support system. It can be difficult to find activities that allow children to meet others of their age group. This can lead to feelings of isolation, or being “abnormal”. Finding the right community supports can help your child develop important social interaction skills, build friendships with children in their age groups, and give them a sense of normalcy.
Love of Learning and Self-Esteem
Children are natural learners. At an early age, their innate curiosity makes learning easy and fun. Proper support from your community can cement the love of learning and exploration in your child’s heart. Team sports, swimming lessons, and other cooperative activities can not only provide opportunities for your child to find new friends, they also provide a sense of self-esteem they can’t find any other way.
My granddaughter has benefited greatly from being involved in team activities. She loves trying new things, and is encouraged by positive feedback and interactions with coaches and tutors. I also know that she is building a network of connections that she can access for information and assistance throughout her lifetime.
Emotional Stability and Encouragement
When a grandparent gains guardianship of a grandchild, it is usually due to tragic events. These children can be left with a sense of abandonment, or other emotional issues. If left unaddressed, these issues can cause lifelong social and psychological problems, threatening the child’s ability to thrive in later life.
Our family has found the services of a family therapist to be invaluable in our journey. A therapist or counselor can help your family to appreciate and adjust your new roles.
They can also be helpful in identifying any behaviors or issues that need attention before they become real problems. Our therapist has helped us understand the needs of our child, and find activities and resources to help our family connect on a more meaningful level.
Raising a grandchild is different from raising your own child. The world is different. Discipline and education are different. YOU are different. It can feel like you’re navigating a whole new world. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Use the supports and existing social structures in your community to help bridge the gaps in your family’s social life.