Grandparents as carers

Are you parenting a second time around? Raising the second generation can be as rewarding and fulfilling as raising the first generation. But many of us would also agree that it’s no easy task – especially if you’re the sole carer of a child.

Becoming a grandparent carer

A family crisis or tragedy can leave any one of us to look after the grandkids for an undefined time period- even permanently.

As a new grandparent carer, you may find that your world’s been turned upside down- especially if you’ve become a carer at a time you were thinking of retirement or a quieter life.

It’s likely that as a new carer, you’re feeling anxious about the future, adjusting to your new lifestyle and the wellbeing and welfare of your grandkids.

If this situation sounds familiar to you, you may be surprised to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way.

Be supported

Adjusting to your new role

Accepting any change can take time, for both you and your grandchild. You might like to talk to family, friends or a counsellor about the difficulties you face – especially if you’re grieving over the loss of your own child.

You may want to talk to other grandparents, or people in your age groups about the challenges you may be facing.

The following is some information on how you can be supported in your day to day caring role.

Financial support

If you’re raising a grandchild and giving them a home, you may be able to get financial support to help with their upbringifang. Visit the Work and Income website for support and advice you may be eligible for

Resources for new grandparent carers

There are a number of excellent resources online with advice and information about becoming a grandparent carer.

The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren website, and  their booklet, offers advice and support for grandparent carers.

The Child, Youth and Family website has free information and resources for caregivers, including learning modules on caring.

This couple shares their experience of becoming ‘second-time’ parents.

Caring for children with special needs and anxiety

If you’re raising a child with special needs you may want to read the SKIP booklet for a guide on communicating with your grandchild.

If you have a grandchild with anxiety disorder, you can find information on how to support them on the National Association of School Psychologists.

Look after yourself

Regular breaks

Becoming a full-time carer is a big job and your wellbeing, including your physical and emotional health may be affected.

Make sure you have breaks (respite) from time to time.

Stand Children’s services offer respite camps for Children that are cared by grandparent carers over the school holidays. Find out more on their website below. 

Counselling for you

If you’d like to talk to someone about any difficulties coping with changes in your life as a carer, you may want to seek counselling

If you’re living in Auckland you can visit Home and Family Counselling which is a well-established, community-based counselling service.

If you’re living in Wellington you may want to visit Well Elder. They provide professional counselling for people 60 and over (55 and over if Maori or Pasifika) from Wellington to Waikanae.

If your adult child has passed away, you can find grief support in your local area. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Meet with other seniors

There are many seniors groups where you can meet other people of a similar age group or situation. You can try:

Age Concern

Age Concern is a charitable organisation dedicated solely to people over 65. They promote dignity, wellbeing, equity and respect and provide expert information and support services in response to older people's needs.

GreyPower

Grey Power is an advocacy organization promoting the welfare and well-being of all those citizens in the 50 plus age group. Their mission is to be the appropriate voice for all New Zealanders.

Support for your grandchildren

The UK Proud Grandparents website has advice for grandparents raising children, including how to talk to kids about why their parent is unable to care for them.

Counselling for your grandchild

Just like you, your grandkids may also have difficulty adjusting to their new life. This is especially if they’ve had to move away from what’s familiar to them- such as their house, neighourhood, friends or parents.

If you think your grandchild is having a difficult time and may want to talk to someone about the issues they are facing there are a number of options.

Skylight is a national not-for-profit trust that enables children, young people, their family/whanau and friends to navigate through times of trauma, loss and grief.

Youthline works with young people, their families and those supporting young people. They provide services such as counselling and face-to-face support.

Barnardos New Zealand provides child and family services in communities around the country. To see what's available near you use the search form on their website.