Grandparents have an awesome impact on their grandchildren. Whether full or part-time, your heart will melt at the sight of your kid’s kids. If reparenting happens to you, how do you make the transition from retirement to reparenting in a healthy way?
Sometimes grandchildren arrive abruptly when your kids die, leave, are incarcerated, or overdose. The day our grandson Anthony came to stay with us was the day his daddy died. Responsibility for grandkids could expand slowly as your adult kids use the little ones to leverage what they want from you. Perhaps for years, they claimed to need milk money or electricity for your grandkids while their money went for cigarettes or drugs. If your adult kids, who have not properly cared for their kids, are arrested allow the system to take its course. If you need to, use the moment of crisis to gain guardianship to assure you have the control you need to provide your grandkids a stable, safe and healthy situation thereafter.
Whichever way it happened, your priority now is your grandkids. You must take care of the innocent providing them structure, safety and love. By doing so you are saving the next generation. Where would they be without you?
Moving into reparenting means you also have to take care of yourself so you can have the energy to give to the kids who are depending on you. Connecting with family and friends is like plugging in an appliance, it connects you to a current that makes things work and flow. Have coffee and chat with a friend. Walking is great because your emotions will become whatever you put in front of your eyes. If you put green grass, blue skies, red flowers, and laughing people before you, they will bring the refreshing you need. Put one foot in front of the other, that’s all you may feel like doing at the moment. Movement is the key to finding energy and answers.
Becoming a parent again takes effort, time and adjustment. Many days are filled with challenges. You may have given up your retirement dreams so you have the time and money you need for the children. Acceptance is the key. Moving forward step by step without bitterness or anger is essential because what you live in front of the children is what they will become and they are a priceless investment. Be encouraged, the difficulties are overshadowed by the joy and reward of seeing your grandkids blossom and become caring, respectful and productive people.
Science shows people of faith cope better and live longer. Therefore, cry out to God. He will hear you and give strength and wisdom. Connect with people of faith.
Everyone’s grief is different. It may not have even been a death, but a loss of hopes, career, dreams or vision. Find the healing balm you need and apply it in the right amount for your healing. I wrote a blog about grief called, You will never get over it, but you can get through it. You may have lost your child or your dreams for your child. When my son Zachary died, so did my dreams for his future. It was a double hit. Counseling may be necessary for you and the kids to find emotional healing and stability in uncertain times. I found journaling organized my thoughts and gave me answers.
My husband and I wrote a book called The Summer of Paintless Toenails: Losing a son and gaining a grandson. It is our story about finding hope and healing in a difficult situation. In it we share our insights on grief and reparenting.
Finally, reparenting means you choose positive thoughts over negative. The result will be a calm, peaceful environment. If you focus on the negative, worry or anxiety could manifest as physical problems. So walk in rest – not in stress. I sing with enthusiasm every morning to Anthony, “You are my sunshine.” He loves that validation. Sam, my husband tells him every day, “Who is my favorite boy in the whole wide world?” Anthony always says, “I am!”
Your retirement life may not have turned out like you planned, but you can plan on a life full of joy as your bond with you grands grows stronger and exceeds your previous hopes or dreams. I wish you well as you make your retirement the best ever by reparenting a new generation of children who love and need you.
Sam is a businessman, writer, entertainer, speaker, husband, father to five children, grandfather and great grandfather. Sam graduated from Huntington University with a B.A. in psychology and drama and pursued a degree in Broadcasting from Illinois Central College with graduate degree in Christian Ministry from Christian Leadership University. Sam is the creator of Granpa Cratchet, one of the most successful touring shows in the history of the live events industry. Millions of people see Granpa every year all across the United States at fairs and festivals. His characters have appeared on every major network: Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show (4 times). Sam and his characters have made over 500 local appearances and on all the major networks; NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, PBN, The LeSea Network, The PTL Network and Praise the Lord. They currently appear all around the world every week on YouTube and Facebook, and on several satellite networks via the Kidz Television Network and The Captain Hook (children's) Show.