We talk about raising your grandkids with Christine Adamec, coauthor with Dr. Andrew Adesman, of The Grandfamily Guidebook. She and her husband have been raising their teenage grandson since his infancy.
In this episode, we cover:
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Welcome everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host as well as the director of CreatingaFamily.org. That is both a website and an organization. And we've got tons of information that is directly relevant to you as an adoptive foster or kinship family. So head over there CreatingaFamily.org. Today we're going to be talking about a guide to raising your grandchild. We will have as our guest, Christine Adamec. She is the co author with Dr. Andrew Adesman of The Grandfamily Guidebook. She is also the author of more than 40 self help and reference books. She and her husband have been raising their teenage grandson since his infancy. Welcome, Christine. This is such an important topic and I enjoyed the book I thought it was, as with all of your books, it's well researched and well laid out. So I hardly recommend the grand family guidebook. So why don't we start with your story, I know that you are in addition to a prolific author, you are also a mom and a grandmom. And specifically you are raising you and your husband are raising your grandson and have been for all of his life. So if tell us your story, as a grandparent who is now raising a grandchild, okay, well, we've been raising our grandson since he was six months old. And he was a preemie he was born at 27 weeks, and had a lot of health issues. And his his parents could not were overwhelmed by the health problems and could not really handle them. So the state decided that we would raise the child, which we did, and still are, and he's 15 years old now
in a marching band and active and healthy, that's wonderful. In your case, the state was involved. And by Yes, they stepped in likely finding neglect, medical neglect, or something along those lines stepped in and reached out to you. Is that how it happened? Yes, that is how it happened. In fact, it was it was rather dramatic when it happened. They two police officers and a caseworker came to our house and the caseworker said, well, we're already moving Tyler, do you want do you want to him or ship? Or is or if not, he's going into foster care? And we said yes, yes, we want him. He came with the clothes on his back, no formula, nothing. So then before she left, she's the caseworker said, Oh, I almost forgot. Could you raise them until he's 18? In case we need you to go and Gosh, he was six months old. And we're alone. We're like, um, we looked at each other. And we said, Oh, okay. Yes. Yeah, I mean, yeah. are, you know, and that's what well, first of all, before we talk, we'll dive more into your story. But let's get because you exemplify many of the common emotions that grandparents and the repeat how rapid things are happening, and having decisions have to be made. But before we jump into that, you are not alone. There are so many grandparents who are and other kin, I should add that much of what we're talking about today would apply to, regardless of whether you are the grandparent of the child, you could be the aunt of the child, the cousin or the child or even a sibling of the child. So what we're saying today does apply to other kin. But we are going to be directing it more towards grandparents because the reality is, most often the kin that is raising the child is the grandparent. So why are grandparent led families increasing? Well, one of the key reasons is that the drug problem the the opioid and other drugs, that was not the problem in our case, but it is the driving force in many cases. Yeah, that's absolutely the the vast majority of the cases where Ken is raising it is because of drug abuse or alcohol abuse. He's the one yes, substance abuse disorders, that children of the parents of the children are suffering from substance abuse disorders, right? You know, and I also hear that the pandemic has increased the needs as well, we work with a lot of both public as well as private agencies. And they are seeing an increased need as from 2020. Really, but but really, truthfully, that is often because of stress is certainly one of them. But the stress is leading to substance abuse. And so again, it all comes back really to substance abuse, right? Yes, it does. Yes. All right. So now let's come back to your story because it really exemplifies some of the
As I said, common emotions. It sounds like that one of the emotions you were feeling is just overwhelmed. I mean, everything has so quickly. Yes, it was, it was a shock. And we rushed off to the market and had to shoot some kind of formula. We didn't know what to one week, we figured if the first one didn't work, well we'd get another time. And diapers and so forth. So yeah, it was. It was a confusing and exciting and scary. Yeah, a whole mix. How involved were you in Tyler's life before our where you had been just? Were you playing any significant role? Or were just doting grandparents? Yes. Well, I, my husband, and I babysat for the parents a lot, because they were both working. So so we we knew Tyler, he was known to us. And we, I'm not sure why I think I blanked out on the formula thing, because I should have probably known, but anyway, what he was familiar, as grandparents, you know, as doting grandparents.
So okay, so you've secretly said overwhelmed, a little bit excited, but also scared all of those, some of the other emotions or perhaps less positive that I think other grandparents may feel, particularly when substance abuse is the cause or neglect or abuse or, or anything, and one of them is just pure anger, anger, at their child, anger at the situation that they're in. Have you seen that as well? Oh, yes, I've seen that a lot. In fact, sometime on Facebook and other places, I see comments like, Why did my daughter chose drugs over her own children? And I, I tried to tell them, nobody decides, Oh, I think I will become a meth addict, or Wouldn't it be interesting to be a heroin addict? It's just not the way it works. So nobody purposely make such a choice. addition is a terrible, horrible problem.
But yes, the anger is common. anger, resentment. Yeah. And we try to tell people that truly there, I have never met anybody who said, Who's whose goal who is attempting to be a really bad parent. That is their goal. Not de, they may be a really bad parent. But that isn't what they're setting out to do. And so that, sometimes that helps people, but sometimes, honestly, it does. Yes. Yeah, yes. What I tell a lot of parents, and the children too, is that they weren't able to be good parents. That's the problem.
Exactly. I think one of them complications very often for especially for grandparents and other kin as well, actually. But this is not something you chose, it's something that is is to for a rather graphic term, it was something that's dumped on you, this is not a choice you're making, you're stepping up. Because there is a need, you're stepping to fill a void in this child's life, because it's the right thing to do. But you didn't choose it. And that makes it hard. I think. I think that you need to regard it as if you're going to raise this child, you need to see it as a choice for tell yourself, realize that it is a choice. If you don't think you can handle raising your grandchild. Then you should not do it. You should let other people raise the child, foster parents or others if you you are going to be overwhelmed with anger and resentment. Yeah, and I think that nobody is expecting to be overwhelmed. It's typical and normal and okay to feel anger and resentment. But I hear your point. You got to get past that at some point, because it's not Yeah.
It's not in the child's best interest. Clearly, if you're going to harbor this resentment, this anger, because the child didn't ask for this either. It's certainly not the kids and your and your anger will. There's no way you can keep your anger and resentment not to from seeping into your parenting, even if it's not directed at the child. Yeah, that's true. So that's why you need to make a choice in your own mind. Like I'm choosing to do this, I didn't have to do this. And I choose to do this.
And I can, it can make a whole difference to your attitude.
If you're if you're, if you're a grandparent who still has some residual anger or resentment of my doing this. Why do I have to do this? Because you chose to do this. Mm hmm. You know, another common emotion that we hear from Grandma, it's this is more grandparent
And other kin is shame. Oh yeah, what did I do to raise a child? Who, as you said, it chose drugs over their own child or hooked up with an abusive spouse who, you know, who is not able to produce the child with an abusive person so that they're not able to raise? What did I do? As a parent? Yeah. How common is that? And that is very common, that's almost universal, I would say pretty much 100% of grandparents think they they'll they'll go back and agonize over everything they did, or didn't do to try to find that one or two, or those two things they did wrong. And you and you can't, you don't know, you know, there, you probably didn't do anything wrong. And more likely, we all every pair, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, every single one of us who have parented have made mistakes, and most of the time, it doesn't result in a child becoming dependent on drugs or a child who, who marries or has a relationship with an abusive person or whatever. Correct? Yeah, that's true. Yeah. But yet people spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Sometimes grandparents need to get therapy, so the therapist can tell them that wasn't their fault.
And if they need to, that's a good idea to have therapy. It's an excellent idea particularly well, I think anytime you're going into a major life change, and I can't think of a bigger life change that in later in life, when you're not expecting to be stepping back into the parenting role, having to step back into the parenting role, that's got to be one of the biggest life changes you could possibly have. Yeah, so it's very major. And so anytime we face a major life change, I think it's just good mental health, to seek out a therapist to say, Alright, I just need a good sounding board. And also, you know, the other thing that does it, it frees you up from always relying on usually the same people as your sounding board. And quite frankly, if you're married, our partner, it is your partner, or spouse, who you are sharing your frustrations with all the time and kind of gives them a break, it gives you fresh input. And it also gives them a break. So I think it's good all the way around. Oh, I do too, to get outside advice. So what are some of the other emotions? We've talked about anger with resentment, we've talked about shame, feeling overwhelmed. Fear, the fear, fear, okay, you're like, how? What's going to happen in the future? Or what if they get him back? Or her back or them back? Will they be safe? or How can I keep the children safe? And yeah, there's a lot of fear. Well, another fear that we hear is, you know, I'm 65. I don't you know, I, am I going to live long enough to raise this child to a healthy adulthood. Or, you know, or am I going to die when he's very, you know, a very young adult? That's another fear. Oh, yes, that is a fear. And that's, that's why it's good to to identify a backup person, in the case that you do become disabled or die before the child reaches age 18. But yeah, on another way thing is that people feel like they're too old. Oh, I'm too old. I'm in Okay, health, but it would be better if they were being raised by somebody who was 35, not 65. But that's not an option. In this case. If the child could have stayed with the parents, then he or she would have
it's totally okay to look into it looked within the family and see if there is another family member who may be better situated to raise this. Yes, that's Yeah, that's okay, too. Yeah, yes, it is. Definitely. Yeah. You if you're really having health problems or other issues, and you know, like, you can't handle it, yes, I would look to another family member. And then you could still play a role in the child's life, but it doesn't have to be as a primary caretaker. Yes. Okay.
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So another emotion is joy and excitement. And so I think we're going to save that to the end because I want to end on that note, I do think it's important to not always focus on some of the negatives, because we certainly hear from grandparents saying, this has given me another chance at parenting. So we'll talk we'll save that to the end for sure. Yes, there's plenty of choice. Yeah, exactly. So let's, we'll, we'll save that to the end. Okay, so the way we're going to kind of follow this now we've talked about some of the emotions. Now we're going to talk about what I think is some of the most important things that need to be decided. And that is the legal custody or permanency type arrangement. We're going to talk about that, then we're going to talk about the relationship between that grandparent and their child, the parent of their grandchild, because that's a sticky wicket for sure. And, and oftentimes, people need help with that. And then we're going to talk about how do we explain all this to the kids. And then we're going to talk about some things that we need to think about when we're parenting these children who've likely experienced trauma, and then and then how, and also just parenting in this new age, you know, all the things that that come about with that. So that's kind of the format, we're gonna, we're gonna follow up here. So make sure you hang around everyone. And then we're going to end with some of the exciting joys and things that that it brings to raise a child. So now moving into the section that I think almost universally, we get questions on if, honestly, if I had to choose one thing that is the most confusing and the most troublesome, especially at the beginning, although honestly, if you don't make the decision at the beginning, he will certainly have to make it down the line. And that is, what type of custody or permanency arrangements are going to be met. Because most Well, I mean, certainly in your case, the government was involved. So then took over and said, We are going to step in and become the guardian of this child unless you do and if we're the guardian of the child, we will place the child if you're not willing, with someone else. So in that case, the government was involved. But very often, the fact is the for every child, that is where the government is involved, depending on the state anywhere from 25 to 35, children outside of the government, I mean, where the government is not involved are living with their grandparents. So the vast majority of children living with grandparents, the government is not involved it is it starts out as an informal relations relationship, be it where the children, your children are living with you with the grandchild, and then they move out or they drop the child over with you for the weekend, and then don't show up to pick it up. Or you realize that they're driving with the child while intoxicated or while stoned and you go over and pick up the child or you realize that the child is not eating or are you know that there's there's neglect. So the grandparent steps in and takes a child or the parents drop the child off and then abandon or don't show up to pick the child up. So let's talk about that situation first, where the government is not involved. What are some of the options that a grandparent has at that point from from a legal standpoint? And do they need to do anything at the very beginning? or could they just wait it out? No, no, no, they should not wait it out. They should get some kind of temporary custody or if possible, more permanent custody, but at least get something signed by the birth parents and preferably notarized since notarization. Is is very important to a lot of courts. That that the the grandparent has the right to take the child to the doctor, the grandparent has the right to register the child for school. Those are the two important things getting the child to the doctor and and getting the child to the school. Because without that you can you don't have the capacity to do that. You need to take that step, even when the child is a baby.
And that often is called every state can be slightly different but it's usually called the power of attorney. Yes. Okay. It's important to do that sometimes you can get emergency custody from the court. If you go to court, I mean depending on the state and say, I need emergency custody of my grandchild because the birth parents have I don't know where they are or their
In prison or they're in rehab, sometimes emergency custody, but it's it's a temporary kind of custody, but it's something it's better than nothing. So would you recommend you're not an attorney and so we're not giving legal advice, everyone needs to seek out their own either family law attorney or legal aid attorney to ask the question specific to your state. Let me point that out right now. Yes. So you need some type of documentation that allows you to seek not to seek medical help and help but make medical decisions and as well as mental health decisions for the child as well as enroll the child in school. And that could take that can look like a number of different things. It can be something as simple as a power of attorney and and it's not always required that you seek an attorney to get a power of attorney. What do you recommend the parents do? if let's say they only want that initial document that just allows them to make some decisions for the child? What would you recommend that they do to get that? Well, if the current state state laws vary, but I would definitely try to get the power of attorney so that you have permission to get medical care and permission to get the child to school. If you can afford a family law attorney, then that would be fine. But that might cost 1000s of dollars. And
sometimes you can just get the temporary the power of attorney on your own. Okay, yeah, there are, in many states, there are forms, standardized forms, online, that you can just print off, and you need to do it when the parent is still around, that's another reason to decide sooner, rather than later get to get this. It can also always be revoked. But getting it when the parent is still around, this is especially the case if you're concerned that you won't be able to find the parents if the parent has a history of disappearing. That's why I cited we cited one case in our book of a grandparent who had her two grandchildren for more than six years. And then the father suddenly wanted them and got them.
And she told me Be sure you warn your readers that they need to get some kind of documentation, some kind of custody? Well, I'm gonna say that's a different issue, because a power of attorney would not have been we
would not have helped in that situation. But that's a good segue into talking about the power of attorney is just the basis of what you need. Right? Right. So let's move in now to talking about something more permanent. And again, I will repeat what you said, state this is, this is all family law, and family law is different in each state. So you do need to you need to go in with that in mind. However, we're going to talk in generalities here, because the generalities are similar between the states, or cambay. So let's let's talk about moving into something more substantial than just a power of attorney. What are the options that grandparents have at that point, permanent custody, and you can become a legal guardian, which usually requires involvement with the court. Or you can get an agreement with the parents and through it involving a large hernia, that, that you have custody of the child, that you have permanent custody. And if the status involved, they will give the parents a certain period of time to resolve their issues. And then the state will want you to
either obtain permanent custody or to as a legal guardian or to adopt a child.
So there's all different options. So you've got the options, and these may go by different names in different states, but you've got the option of a voluntary custody agreement with the parents, you've got the option of a temporary custody agreement, or a permanent Custody Agreement. And then you've got guardianship. And then as you mentioned, you also have the option of adoption. All of this gave you and of course, adoption gives you adoption gives you the full rights of a parent. So okay, yes, we adopted our child, our grandchild when he was four, because we decided we need a permanent option for him. And adoption is the most permanent option. And did his parents, his birth parents agree or did you have to fight them on making that decision? They did agree. Because they had other children and they decided he was happiest with us. They wanted to know that they can see him and know him as he grew up. And we were fine with that. Although you can't it can't be contingent on that. It has to be out
Be willing to give up their parental rights without any disclaimers or any there's no openness and adoption is is a promise. And even it can be I mean, there's certain states that enforce open adoption agreements. But the truth is, they're very hard to enforce, because we're supposed to follow the best interest of the child standard, which means that you as the parent, the adoptive parent could say, it's not in my child's best interest, they tantrum F to visit with him, right, have openness with their birth parents, it's causing them emotional distress, behavioral issues, blah, blah, blah. And I think it's really hard pressed to find a court who's going to disagree with you as the parent there. So you're correct. But that that goes across the board. We're fortunate that our son's birth mother was an is a good person. And we've been able to maintain a good relationship with her. Yeah. Yeah. And, and sadly, that is probably the exception, not the rule, simply because of the nature of in your case, it was considered medical neglect, because they weren't able to meet his medical needs. But so often, what it is, is the birth parents are struggling with substance abuse, and yes, and that if nothing else that impairs your decision. Well, yeah, alcohol and drugs don't make for helping a person make good decisions. And also, there's the hope and the prayer that, that, that they will, that they will get healed that they will overcome this disease. And I see that as a problem with grandparents as well. Because taking it doing anything that has the word permanent in it, makes it feel like you're giving up on your child, yes, but you have to consider that what the child needs the most, you have to put the child first. Sometimes if there's any conflict between what the birth parent needs your your son or daughter, and what the child needs, the child should always win. Because he's a he or she has a minor child and needs to come first. Yeah, exactly. I mean, that is supposed to be our goal, our guide, always, but that does lend people to seeking a more temporary solution. But the concern is that you could still have one of the things to consider and this is again, something you would need to talk with an attorney about. But you can still file for guardianship or even a permanent custody, whatever it might be called conservatorship, depending on what it's called, in your state. And and that can be altered, if in the future, you make the decision that you're that the child's parent, your child has, has healed and it would be a safe place and a better place for the child. And I think that's helpful to think about is that adoption is permanent. But the other options before adoption, are something that can be changed, but you will be in the position of at least having a voice at the table on if that child's placement should change. And I think that that comes back to the example of the woman that you highlight in the book, who didn't have anything other than a temporary relationship. And then she had no seat at the table when the parents said, yeah, we want the child back. No court at that point. She She didn't have any she didn't have a legal voice. Well, she did. She did fight it in court. And she was able to because she had been raising the children for six years. But all she got was six weeks in the summer. Yeah, she got nothing. Yeah, it was a famous case. I mean, she hers was, but we see those cases all the time, where a parent has dropped a kid off at the grandparents house, goes on a bender or whatever disappears, that may be periodically calling whatever but not being involved in the child's life, then comes back and says I want to be a parent again, and wants to take the child and the grandparents. And the grandparents know that the parent is either actively using or is not stable emotionally or doesn't have a house or, or job or whatever. And the grandparents are thinking this is not in this child's best interest. Not at this period of time, even though I hope in the future. But they they that's the reason they but they may not have a voice unless they've initially sought out some type of of arrangement that they could hold up to a court and say yes, you have to at least you have to at least consider what I'm saying as well. Of course they could all if they think the child would be an actual danger from the parent. They can always call up the child abuse hotline but it has to be a verifiable case of
Have the child really being a danger because parent is the birth parent is abusing alcohol or drugs or some other circumstance. But you're right. That's why it's so important to to obtain some form of custody in the earliest days.
If you were enjoying today's podcast on a guide to raising your grandchild, would you do us a favor, please go to rate this podcast.com slash creating a family and leave us a rating and review, it is a super simple way to help us reach others who would also benefit from some of the information we provide both today and in the future. So thank you, again, it's great this podcast.com slash creating a family, we would really, really, really appreciate it. Now let's talk about you may have the option of becoming a foster parent to this child. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a trained and becoming a licensed foster parent so that you are both, of course you'll always be the grandparent to the child, but you will also have the role of foster parent. While the foster parent classes are valuable because they teach you about possible problems the child may have and how to handle them. And the child would be on Medicaid.
The child's health care's would be taken care of medicine, doctor visits, therapy and so forth. So so there are there are benefits to being a grandparent who's a foster parent. Definitely. Another big benefit of becoming a foster parent is that you will receive a monthly subsidy in addition to having the child's medical therapies and other expenses covered, you will also most likely receive a subsidy minus cash subsidy to help defray the cost of raising this child.
Yes, but even if you don't, even if you're not a foster parent, you can still apply for a thing we call child only Medicaid, which is important to know about many people don't know about it, if you have, if you're raising your grandchild, your income should not be considered and you can apply for Medicaid for the child only. So there is that option if you're not a foster parent.
And there are also other federal benefits that may be available to you as a family and your income would be considered. But there are also federal benefits that may be available and accrue to the child alone. So you don't have to your income or your savings or whatever would not be considered and the child would have access to the to these benefits. Yes, that's correct. Like a free lunch in school or or WIC where you can get formula and various other items. There's many good, there are many good programs you can apply for.
And we will link in the show notes, a really great resource by AARP, on how to figure out which type of resources would be available for your, for your family, for your child rather great, and your family. Right, but and it would be remiss to leave this whole section where we're talking about legal stuff, and not mentioned the importance of having a will. Can you talk to us a bit about that? Why is that important?
Well, it's important to make a plan for the child for the future like like we discussed in case you become so disabled, you can't raise the child or in case you die. Because otherwise the child would probably go into foster care which you might rather have the child be raised by another family member. And you might be able to create another plan for the child. So death is something that we all have to face. And when you're when you're raising a child, that's a very important you do not want the child to be thrust into a alien environment
where they don't know anybody.
And, and that is your right one of the most important reasons that you would want to have a will is to identify a guardian for the child. In case of your death. There are also financial reasons, depending again, this is also controlled by state law. So it would differ by state. But if you die without a will, a very typical scenario that would happen in many states, if not most, would be that your assets would be divided amongst your children, not and that would not include your grandchild. So that would mean let's say you have two children, one of whom is the parent
To the grandchild who are raising who is in the throes of substance abuse disorder, potentially now, somebody could argue to the court that that would be bad and not in the interest of this of your child. But without a will a scenario that very well may happen would be that your financial resources and your everything that you have will be divided between your two children. And then it would be up to your child, the one who is struggling to make a decision on whether or not they want to use any of that money that they may receive upon your death to help support their child. But with a will, you could, you might choose to say I want everything that I have to go to the education and support for my grandchildren, because I know that they're not going to they're going to need it. And if I die when they're still young, that I want to make sure that I provide for them going to college or, or getting some type of post secondary training, things like that you are in control of where your money goes, and you can make the decision. Yes, that's right. It's very important. Yes, you don't want to leave your child, you do not want to accidentally disinherit your child, your grandchild, that would be a horrible prospect.
And that very well might happen if you don't have a will. So yes, again, family law attorney can help you with that. Legal Aid might be able to help you with that. Legal Aid would be a good place to go if you can't afford and they may be able to recommend forms that you can fill out on your own. So it's better if you can afford an attorney. But if you can't find out if there are good forms that on your own pro se you can fill out so that's something Yes, you need to ask in your state to find out what's been accepted what's well written of any of these forms. And quite frankly, sometimes they go they could help you on their own. Right. Okay, so now we've we've talked about the all important legal stuff, my legal background always requires that I bring that out, keeping in mind that we are not giving you legal advice. Alright, so now let's move on to the I call it a sticky wicket. And it's probably one of the biggest problems that we hear out probably second only to what do I need to do to to establish myself as a, as a legitimate legal custody regarding of this child are having, having the right to have a voice at the table? That's probably number one. But number two, that we hear is the complications that grandparents have when they're raising their grandkids, the complications they have with their own children, the parents of the child? Can you talk to us some about that? I know you didn't experience that, but I think you've worked with other grandparents that have Oh, yes, there's jealousy, the the birth parents may be jealous of. They think they should still be in charge. Sometimes they they will get pictures of the child and pretend that they're still raising the chop, posting pictures of the child on Facebook, which drives grandparents crazy. Why does it drive grandparents crazy because they think that their children, their adult children are playing happy families and and they're not raising the child at all the grandparents are doing everything. And the birth parents in that case are just pretending that they're continuing to raise the child so that everybody will think that everything's okay, everything's normal.
And it's, it's not they aren't raising the child because they do have problems that they do need to resolve but they don't want to face sometimes.
So jealousy is one of jealousy of the birth parents towards the child's child's relation relationship with the grandparent. That's one of the of the issues that sometimes comes up what are some others? Anger with the birth parents may feel angry with the with the grandparents that they may not like the way they may think, oh, I don't like the way you're raising the child or Well, how come I should be able to see the child whenever I feel like it. But the situation is not. It's not that way sometimes. So yeah, there's jealousy, there's anger, there's sometimes they threatened, they say, Well, when I get that child back, you're never going to see him again. That's a common thread I've heard and grandparents worry about that. Oh, no. What should I do? Well, you should not do whatever the birth parent wants you to do. Because you're afraid that in the future, you might not be able to see mission to do the right thing for the child, whatever that is.
It harkens back to seek out a family law attorney and find out what type of legal arrangement you need to protect you and the child more and more
To protect the child, another thing that we hear, which is kind of related to what you're talking about, is the parents show up and want to take the child, oh, I want to take the child out to dinner or I want to take the child to, you know, a ballgame, or I want to take the child to a party, and the grandparents are not comfortable with the child being alone with the with the grandchild, either because they think that they're actively using their they're currently intoxicated or are, are, are messed up from drugs, or they're afraid that the grandparent of their child, the grant, the parents will, when they are away with the child do something and so they don't want the child to be put in that situation. That's another common thing that we see. In that case, they should not let the child go, they should say, No, I don't like that idea that that doesn't really work for us. So we're going to have to say no.
And sometimes other family members are not supportive of the grandparents taking that role. Yes, it's surprising, isn't it? But true. Other sometimes other family members think? What are you doing? Why did you get involved in this? You shouldn't have gotten involved in this. You're too old? Or you're too this or that or, or the birth parents may
say that the grandparents stole their child? Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Or where we even see it more often is when the grandparents say, No, I'm not comfortable with the child being in a car with you. I'm not comfortable with you being alone with the child. other family members might say, Oh, come on. He's the child's real dad. I mean, of course, he should be able to take the child. We see that too. Yes, that happened. They will say that. And then you have to stand up for what the child needs and for what you know, to be true. And other people in your family may not like this, too bad.
Yeah, and but it's a it's a hard position for a grandparent to be in keeping in mind, of course, if they're dealing with all the emotions of her really want my child to get better so that they can take their son to a to a ballgame. All right. I want to, I want to believe that right now. They're not under the influence of drugs, but I don't, they've lied to me so many other times. I don't know whether to believe them right now. So all of that comes into into play as well. Yes. All right. So what are some of the techniques that are tips or whatever, to help grandparents navigate the relationship? Let's just use the word complex, the complex relationship with their child who is the, the the parent of the grandchild that they're raising? Well, you can acknowledge how they feel. One was one thing you can do, you can say, I understand that you really want to take Billy to the ballgame. But, and I, I realized that's important to you, but I, I just can't allow it at this time. Maybe in the future. Sometimes by acknowledging how the other person feels is helpful. Rather than just saying, forget it, that's not going to happen. That's never going to happen. Don't say that. Because yes, you do want your your child, your adult child. And sometimes they do. But at this point in time, no. So keep open, don't don't write anything. in stone. Everything is open to improvements in the future. I think that is important that allows hope for your relationship and allows hope for healing. So all of that's in that's very important. All right. So keep things, whatever decisions you were making, keep them fluid for improvement, and they can change in the future. That's a great advice. What are some other things that you can do as a grandparent, to help smooth some of the relationships with your adult child, you can invite them to the child's birthday parties, you can invite them to other family events. So they feel like they're still important, because they are. But you should never, don't ever let the birth parent
emotionally abuse you or, or threaten you. You don't you don't have to accept that. That's important. You should try it. But try to maintain a good relationship as much as you can with the birth parents because it's important to the child to it's important to you because you're the adults parent, but it's important to the child. Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely.
You've heard me say this before, but I'll say it again, this show as well as everything we do, and creating a family simply wouldn't happen without the support of our partners. And these are agencies who believe in what we do, they believe in the podcast, but they also believe in providing you information, unbiased, accurate information, and they believe it to the extent that they're willing to support
And we could not do what we do without them. One such partner is children's connection. They are an adoption agency providing services for domestic infant adoption and embryo donation and adoption throughout the US. They also provide home studies and post adoption support to families in Texas. And we think,
all right, how can we were raising you're raising your grandchild? How can you explain the situation to the child children are not dumb, they put a catch on very quickly, that other kids are living with their parents, and they're living with the grandparents and they wonder why am I living with you and not my parents? Yes, and you explain it at the level that they can understand of what a five year old can understand is not not the same 14 year old can understand. But the bottom line, what I say is your, your birth parent was not able to be a good parent. And that pretty much covers any situation, whether there was drugs or alcohol or mountain elist immaturity, or pretty much why the birth parents couldn't be parents, it's because they couldn't be they weren't able to be.
And you should also be sure to tell the child it's it's not your fault. Because sometimes a lot of times children think, oh, maybe I was a fussy baby, or maybe I had this medical problem. That was my fault. It's not their fault.
And children need to know it's not your fault. It was just a circumstance, the circumstances worked out that way. And your birth mother and birth father, they weren't able to be good parents. So that's why we raised you because we were able to be good parents. And I do think it's important to not bad mouth, do not talk about the child's birth parents in a negative light, even if you are frustrated with him, yes, yes, do not call the Father, the sperm donor, do not call the mother the egg donor. Do not call them other disparaging names. That is not, that's not good for your relationship. It's not good for the child. So it's best to avoid saying, oh, you're like we just discussed earlier, your parents chose drugs over you never, ever say that.
Many times. In fact, I would say most times, when you are raising a grandchild, that child has experienced trauma they have unless you have gotten them straight from the hospital, they have experienced a trauma of If nothing else, of having been removed from their family, very often there is neglect, which is a form of trauma. And very, very often, the majority of these children have been exposed prenatally to alcohol and drugs. If your child is suffering from substance abuse disorder, it is highly unusual that they abstained through their pregnancy. So what we know is that alcohol and drugs change the brain of the fetus. And when the child is born, they have the brain damage caused by this prenatal exposure. And that does change the way they think the way they learn and the way they behave. That's true. So this is a challenge that you are raising a child who has experienced trauma. And that is a whole nother
that's a whole nother show. And unfortunately, it's a show that we have covered this a topic that we cover a lot on Oh, yeah, creating a family.org has a lot of resources under hover over either birth adoption or Foster and click on adoption topics. And that takes you to our agency resource guide, and then go to parenting. And we have lots and lots of resources on parenting a child who has experienced abuse, neglect trauma, as well as parenting children who have had experienced prenatal exposure.
All right, so now let's talk about you are raising your children, usually at least one maybe two generations here, let's say one generation ago, and often it's things of different now. So one difference that comes up all the time is the internet, gaming, social media that has that's that's and you know what, a lot of times, grandparents, people of grandparents age are just not that involved with it. It's it's not that important to them. So they're really, not only did they not have to face it when they were parenting their own kids, they really haven't gotten involved in it now. Any thoughts on that the how do we navigate this brave new world that we're currently living in? Yes, you have to be careful with social media because
Sometimes teenagers get themselves into trouble with it they base you tell them that you shouldn't warn them never say anything about someone that that you wouldn't want to see on a on a big site it on a big sign in the public square or on the local newspaper, and things that you say online may last forever.
And you need to talk to her about bullying and avoiding bullying and what to do if someone bullies you, which happens sometimes. And you have to talk to them about sex, which a lot of grandparents aren't that thrilled about talking to a child about a teenager, but a pre teenager, you have to talk about things like that. For example, never take a picture of your naked body to send to your boyfriend because that picture could appear on the internet for the whole world to see.
Exactly or be passed around the school. Either one yeah, I will link to a in the show notes, we will link to a show that we have done as well as other resources we've done on how to handle this whole brave new world of the internet and parenting and that the other thing that you can do as a grandparent is there's lots of resources available now because you're not alone. You're a grandparent Yes. But parents are also struggling with this. So yeah, they are so you you're not alone. It just because you're older doesn't mean that they're just because they're younger, I'll say it the other way. Just because they're younger doesn't mean they have they figured it all out. So there's lots of information available online for helping parents navigate the internet and social media and gaming with different age kids. So that would be a suggestion for doing there. That's another issue that comes up in parenting is sometimes your parenting a child that is biracial as a child of a of a different race than the child you raised. And thoughts on that and how that grandparents need to step up to be able to do the right things to help a child let's say if let's let's say that they are white, and they are raising a biracial black child, or they could be black raising a biracial white child. Yes. So what are some Can you make a suggestion there? Well, I've seen I've seen a situation a lot where a white parent is raising a biracial child and they don't know what to do with the hair, the curly hair, they try to brush it out flat and it looks not good. So what I tell them is go to a black hairstylist and ask the stylist how to handle black hair. How what how to hint curls are good curls are beautiful. And different products that you're not familiar with. With my help you give give your child a beautiful hairstyle or an attractive hairstyle. With boys, you can
just want to have longer hair. So you really need the help of a black style is to help you. And I would also add that if you're a black grandparent, raising a biracial, black white grandchild. Same thing applies go take the child depending on the hair, the child's hair texture, the same thing might apply to take the child to a salon or a hairdresser that is white. So it goes both ways. Become just become aware that different especially it comes up with skincare and haircare it matters. It's important, it's important to kids. And so you know, everyone wants to look their best. And so you as the parent to this child, this is you need to learn. So you know, that's right, and you're willing to learn exactly, you need to be an advocate for your child that's very important for your grandchild.
So I've promised that we were going to end with some of the joys of raising your raising grandchildren. So we've talked about some of not necessarily negatives, but some of the more complicated issues. Now let's talk about some of the positives. Oh, there's so many joys like the joy of going to your child's band concert and watching him play the joys of
being from the sixth grade going to that ceremony or going to have your child's soccer game and cheering them on with you I'd be the only grandparent and all the other parents are way younger than you but you're all excited and happy. And you have a common positive feeling. There's there's many there's birthday parties, there's your child's many successes in life, good grades and so forth. In the knowing that you've had a hand in that, you know, knowing that you have helped shape another generation in your family knowing that you stepped up to provide a safe place for this child and a safe place for this child to be raised. There's there should be pride in that. Yes, there should be pride and hopefully there is pride you should I tell
A lot of grandparents, you're a hero. I see grandparents who are stepping up to raise their grandchildren as heroic. And I, they say, Oh, I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Now. It's a challenging job. It can be a challenging, challenging job to raise your grandchild. It absolutely could be a challenge. Yes, yeah, absolutely. Okay. Well, thank you so much. Christine adamak. co author with Dr. Andrew ehresmann of the book, the grandparent guidebook. Thank you so much for being with us today and to our listeners. Thanks for joining us, and I will see you next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai