Parenting the Second Time
Parenting a second time around is challenging, exhausting, rewarding, joyous, and so much more! I have been parenting grandchildren for some time. I have had my grandson since he was 6 months old, and we adopted him when he was 4 years old. That was 14 years ago.
When we began our journey with him there was nothing in the state, or most states for that matter, for grandparents in my position. I found navigating things was difficult, time consuming, and a full-time job. I searched online for grandparents’ groups which were almost non-existent, so I want to say the Kinship Navigation Program is an amazing program and the work done by so many grandparents to get this program in place is so welcome by so many.
Several years ago, I had guardianship of two other grandchildren for a couple years as their mom was ill, and thank goodness, I am happy to say she is well and both children have been home with her for several years now. One child is almost done with college and the other starts high school next year. Again, the adventure with them was a little easier only because of what I learned through my first adventure, but this adventure I am in now with my 12-year-old granddaughter is quite different. There is involvement with agencies and court, and we did not take guardianship this time around.
This time I have a great case manager through the Kinship Navigation Program, and she has helped walk me through what to expect, given me ideas to help our situation and listened to my frustrations of feeling like I am not being heard by all the different entities involved. I want to encourage everyone who is raising a grandchild or in another kin relationship to use this program. Every situation is different, but we are all here and it is so important to know you are not the only one and you are not doing this alone.
I have always said the dynamics of our family situations are different from the child who is not being cared for by a family member, as we have the connections with parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and others that is often difficult and chaotic, or we wouldn’t be raising these children. It is something that those working with our families need to understand—from the pediatrician to the mental health provider, any DHHS and DCYF worker, and the judicial system.
After my grandson came to me, I was afriad of what others would think and was afraid to share what was happening. That fear came, I think, from a system of care that figured I had to be the one to blame for my child’s inability to care for her child, but I have come to realize the choices she made were hers, and I did all I could to try to help her along the way.
So, another thing we need to remember it is not our fault. Most times the consequences of what others choose to do ripple out too far and change lives in drastic ways. This is what has happened to me and others, but we have the chance to change the lives of others too, and help someone else as they travel a familiar road.
I have said since I began this journey 18 years ago, if our story can help one person, I will tell it over and over. Our story has emerged, changed, and morphed over the years and now we currently have a half-sister placed with us. I often joke I will be raising children until I am 80, and currently that does seem like a possibility. However, even on those days where I am questioning what I was thinking raising another teen, and early morning school bus arrivals, and feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, there is nothing that warms my heart more than hearing the laughter and joy of the children in my care and knowing they are safe, truly happy, and loved more than they know.
Parenting this time is exhausting and challenging but we are not alone.
Have a KINSHIP STORY of YOUR OWN? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear how you used YOUR VOICE to meet your family’s needs.