An American national holiday often skipped over is Grandparents Day, observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day in September (other countries may celebrate a similar day on a different date).
This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all our grandparents do or have done for us. We might send cards, flowers or gifts to show appreciation for their love and support.
And how we love and appreciate them! Grandparents have a special love, patience and experience to pour out on their grandchildren. I know as a grandparent that I love my grandchildren dearly.
Sadly there is a new, growing generation of grandparents we need to pay special attention to— grandparents who are raising their own grandchildren.
Filling a sadly growing need
For various reasons, a major one being children having drug-addicted parents, nearly 3 million grandparents find themselves raising their own grandkids.
We see it all too often in the news—clips of parents being arrested, some-times having to get out of a car while on drugs even with their kids inside. So the children have to be placed in a safe home somewhere.
To keep children from going to foster care, many states would rather have a relative care for them. Grandparents taking on this responsibility save the nation about $4 billion a year, according to the nonprofit Generations United.
In my home state of Ohio alone, for every one child placed in foster care there are 20 kids being cared for by relatives—most often by grandparents.
I myself know people who have stepped up to the plate and are raising their grandchildren. I call them heroes because they are keeping their grandchildren from being placed into the foster care system. I grew up in foster care myself as a child, and I know what that is like.
These special grandparents have become the parents to their grandchildren. They get up every day and make the kids breakfast, organize their activities and help with homework in the evening.
So many grandparents have given up their retirement, and some have suffered financial loss, in caring for their grandchildren. They have started the child-rearing process all over again, but this time at a much older age. Many aging grandparents are also dealing with their own health issues.
Grandparents who have become parents a second time around need support! They need encouragement. They need resources. Here are some points to help if you are raising your grandchildren.
Ask God for help and encouragement
God must look on you in a very special way because of the sacrifices you are making. Rely on His promises.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, English Standard Version).
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:25-27, ESV).
God will help you every step of the way! Always ask Him for encouragement. He loves you, your grandchildren and, yes, your children who are not now able to parent.
Look for other help and resources
If you are a grandparent raising your grandkids, you can find a lot of organizations that can point you in the right direction for getting advice and help. Here are a couple of web links with lots of tips and advice:
Find people who also have children the age you are raising. Take part in all the activities with your grandchildren that you can.
All of us should be aware of those in our church congregation who are raising their grandchildren. If you have children, try to sometimes include the kids being raised by grandparents in your outing, like a trip to the zoo.
Look for ways to give the grandparents a much-needed break. And most of all, pray for these awesome grandparents.
So thank you to all the incredible grandparents out there for all the love you shower on your grandkids, and especially for those grandparents who are raising their grandkids. It is a huge, life-changing sacrifice, though it comes with many rewards too. When things seem most difficult, always remember that you are giving these kids a second chance in life. That really makes you “grand”!