Parenting is hard work, especially the second time around. If you’re a grandparent raising your grandchildren—despite any aches, pains or financial limitations—you deserve some applause.
By caring for your grandchildren, you’ve given them the chance to grow up a family home. It’s a good thing, too, because kids raised by relatives tend to fare better than children placed in foster care.
But when you find yourself raising a troubled teen grandchild, helping them get a good start in life can seem like an insurmountable task. You may worry you’re not up to the challenge, and wonder where to turn for help. Fortunately, there’s a growing amount of support available to “grandfamilies.” You just need to know where to look and be willing to ask.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
It’s possible you’re raising your grandchild due to unforeseeable circumstances, like death or illness. Or perhaps your adult child is deployed in the military.
In other cases, however, the situation arises because of something that can cause you to feel ashamed or guilty. Common reasons a person finds themselves raising their grandchildren includes:
- Drug abuse
- Mental illness
If you feel guilty about raising a child who is unfit to parent, let it go. You’ve likely made some mistakes along the line, but so have all parents. Your child is grown now and old enough to take responsibility for improving their life.
You Aren’t To Blame For Your Grandchild’s Problems
Some grandparents find themself raising a troubled teen and heap further blame on themself. It can feel like you’ve doubly failed in the parenting department.
The truth is, however, that adolescence is tough regardless of your background and even children from stable homes foten founder. Remember, too, that your grandchild has experienced loss or rejection and insecurity. Add the hormones and turmoil of the teen years and, despite your best efforts, it’s almost inevitable your grandchild will face some difficulties.
Letting go of guilt and shame can improve your wellbeing and give you more energy to focus on the important task at hand.
Reach Out For Support
Grandfamilies are becoming increasingly common. In 2010, the US Census revealed that 4.9 million grandparents were raising their grandchildren.
Seeing those numbers should serve to convince you that you aren’t alone. You may benefit from taking with other grandparents raising their grandchildren. You can find camaraderie and advice via in person support groups or some of the numerous numerous online communities devoted to the topic, like the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group.
Look For Help In Your Community
If your troubled teen grandchild needs positive mentoring, they may benefit from involvement in organizations like the YMCA and YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs or Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
If your grandchild is showing signs of mental, emotional or behavioral problems, they may benefit from seeing a counselor. Your child’s school may have a licensed counselor who can help. Their school may also have a social worker in place who can connect you with programs aimed at youths in foster care or kinship care.
You can also seek the help of a therapist for your grandchildren through Medicaid and, if necessary, a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication. Many communities also have volunteer clinics that can provide much-needed mental health support.
You may also be eligible for financial assistance. You can learn more by speaking to a social worker at your local Children’s Services office. Another way to start is to browse www.benefits.gov to learn what aid may be available to you or visit the Child Welfare website to learn more about gaining support for kinship care.
Know When You Are In Over Your Head
In some cases, a troubled teen’s issues can become so grave that you fear for their safety or the safety of others. You may have a grandchild whose anger management issues and violent behavior have grown to the point where your confrontations are bordering on elder abuse.
Other problems that may call for intervention include:
- An eating disorder
- Fighting, bullying and aggression
- Gang affiliation
- Mental illness
- Risky sexual behavior
- Self-harm such as cutting
- Sexual deviance
- Suicidal ideation
- Truancy and other academic issues
If your grandchild’s problems are threatening to upend their future, you may want to consider a behavior modification program. These include solutions like placing your grandchild in a residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens.
It’s always a hard decision for families to send their child away to a school where they can get the comprehensive therapeutic support they need. It’s even harder when you are grandparenting a child who has already lost the support of their parents. It can seem like a second rejection. If you’re at a crisis point, however, the right placement just might be your grandchild’s best chance at not only surviving the teen years but learning to thrive as an adult.
At help your teen now, we’re dedicated to helping families find the best school for their at-risk child or grandchild. We also advise you on ways you can fund their stay. We never charge for advice because, as parents ourselves, we are dedicated to helping the next generation get off on the right foot. Contact us for information today.