28 Aug Parenting a Second Time (When Grandparents Become the Parents)
Over three decades ago, my brother began to make choices that took him away from the path of becoming an outstanding citizen with a future to a delinquent citizen whose life nearly ended in death several times. He partied wildly, smoked, drank and did drugs to excess, and landed himself in jail several times. On top of being in and out of jail, he and his wife began to do heroin together. They eventually divorced and she granted him full custody of their two children.
Because my brother was withdrawing from heroin and had no where else for him and his children to go, my parents brought them in. My brother began to attend a 12-step program for narcotics addicts and to finish college. It was an on and off again process that lasted nearly three years. His children were flourishing. My brother would relapse every so often. He’d blow his top every so often. Eventually he decided to move to another state. That lasted for eight months.
My brother’s life was on a destructive path yet again, and his children were merely surviving, not thriving. Thankfully my brother decided to move back, not far from my parents, and start his life over again. Even though my brother is sober, drug-free, and holds a full-time job for now, he depends on my parents for his children’s care. When school is out, the children are at my parents home full-time until he gets home from work. When school is in, they are at my parents home at 7:00am until school starts at 9:00am and then back with my parents at 4:00 pm until anytime between 7:00pm-9pm.
My parents are usually exhausted. They are in their late sixties, and are taking care of a first and fourth grader. This is a difficult but necessary arrangement that benefits these innocent children in every way possible. There are many grandparents who become “parents” again for the second time, It could be because of death, divorce, mental illness, a number of things, but this older generation throw back their slumping shoulders and take what they feel is a necessary responsibility: taking care of their grandchildren.
There is an article for my parents and those who are in a similar situation. In my opinion it is a must read, a link to sanity, a reassurance of your role in your grandchildren’s lives. It is called, “Grandparents As Parents: The Rewards and Challenges of Raising Grandchildren.” It will give you the help, strength and reassurance you need to do a difficult job at an older age.