I feel it is not enough to just take on your grandchild and give them the love and shelter. I feel a huge responsibility to offer him the best that I can; to be gentle with his soul and well-being, to foster everything that is right in the world. To nurture him, to allow him to have trust in himself and in me. To encourage him to make fantastic choices. To show him how to be a jolly good and decent human being. To teach him he can be anything he wants, if he works hard and has goals. To be kind to other people's souls. I have felt my grandmother inside of me when I hear myself telling him the names of plants and birds when going for bush walks, when exploring, when baking. To feel that strong woman is a privilege and I would love my grandson to grow up feeling inspired about me." - GRG Member
You have come so far on your caregiver journey with the child or children in your care and life at last seems to be on an even keel. Congratulations!
Or is it?
Resilience is all about using the experiences of the past to prepare you for the life stages ahead and equipping you to handle future challenges positively.
In our experience grandparent and whanau caregivers are incredibly resilient and resourceful people who have stepped up to the challenge to raise some of our most vulnerable children.
Their love, commitment and drive to put their grandchildren's needs before their own is a powerful force that by its existence has already started their family on the road to a more positive future.
But sometimes just when you think everything is going along swimmingly, life throws you a curve ball. That's when resilience counts both for you and the children in your care.
Sometimes for example, when young teens who have suffered trauma in a past life reach puberty, they naturally ask themselves some questions. Do I look like my Mum or my Dad (particularly if they have had little or no contact with them over the years)
They wonder about their identity (who they take after in personality, their traits or talents) and although you have given them so much information over the years, do not be surprised if this sort of questioning comes to the fore. In some cases youth may try to find their birth parents and maybe even wish to live with them again.
This can rock your world, but please try not to take it to heart, for as much as it hurts and you may feel like you have wasted your life on your precious ones; you haven't. You have instilled in them good values, morals and stability over the years.
Teen years can be tough for all youth, but with added layers of complexity for teens in grandparent care.
Take heart, all is not lost. It is just a pot hole on their journey of life. Your grounding and support through the years will see them through, although it may take a while.
A story from Di Vivian illustrates this point well:
"Through the younger years of raising one of our grandchildren we had the most horrendous time from age 12 to 18 with her. She went off out of control at 18 (yes drugs and alcohol) to find her birth mother. Yes it broke my heart, but it was something she had to do. I did understand that. Sometimes they have to find out for themselves. I put clear boundaries around this as the world the mother inhabited could not cross with ours again.
She quickly realised this was not a good move and they parted ways very quickly.She is now 22 and phoned the other day to say she was on a crowded bus and the disabled/elderly seats were taken up by young people. An elderly lady got on the bus with a walking stick. No-one got up for her, so got up and gave her, her seat.
She said people looked at her like she was some sort of weird person. So in her loud voice (and yes it can be loud) said ‘What the hell! You people - where are your manners?’
So yes it does get instilled and as she matures she will have the good values, of compassion and caring in her soul. Remember it is there even though we may not be aware of it just yet, nor them for that matter. We leave our foot print on them that I truly believe." Di Vivian
Our objectives are to help you become more knowledgeable, empowered and resilient on behalf of your families so that you can also raise resilient children and these links are just some we have collected that can help you. Our page on Trouble-shooting for teens
may also have some helpful information and links.
In the Youtube video below The Parenting Place
senior Family Coach Jenny Hale talks about what a resilient child looks like and how parents can help make it happen on Good Morning.
Published on May 15, 2015
Resilient Grandparent Caregivers: A Strengths-Based Perspective
By Bert Hayslip, JR., Gregory C. Smith.
Routledge © 2012
This excellent book is available from a number of online bookstores to purchase as hard-copy or e-reader versions or you could enquire with your local bookseller quoting the ISBN number above to order a copy.
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