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  • Writer's pictureJulie Galloway, LPC-RPT

The Essential Family Worker- The Grandparent

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

January 30, 2020, the Who declared Covid-19 outbreak a global health emergency. It's been over a year and we are still trying to adjust and conform to the crisis. Mental health concerns have taken a spotlight because of the emotional and physical toll from this lengthy pandemic. No matter your age or background, every single human has experienced major changes in their everyday lives as a direct result of Covid-19.

It's fair to say that grief has struck this nation due to the sheer number of losses... lives, jobs and freedoms. Helping each other is really the only way for best outcomes.

The role of the Grandparent isn't just for spoiling grandchildren anymore.

There are many reasons that support the growing trend of grandparents helping their children and grandchildren especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

What we knew before the pandemic:

  1. Science has confirmed that grandparents are essential to the emotional and behavioral development of children.

  2. Research has also shown that grandparents who provide some care for their grandchildren had a 37% lower risk of death over a 20-year period, compared with those who didn't or older adults who weren't grandparents.

  3. Parents of minors have latched on to the benefits of having grandparents near and available for ages.

And what we know now:

Changes and demands have occurred in the role of the Grandparent due to Covid-19.

Emotionally supportive grandparents are grandparents who are unable to visit their grandchildren due to the restrictions and health concerns.

Complex turmoil from the instability created by this pandemic has created the need for emotional support in children, teens and adults. Emotionally support might be experienced through active listening, assisting with problem solving, sharing feelings of love, and words of encouragement. Parents and grandparents should remember, the connection is about consistency and quality verses quantity.

Embracing technology may seem a daunting task but it is the easiest way to connect without health risks. Give your grandkids the task of teaching YOU how to use technology, allowing more opportunity to connect with them. Technology connections might be

  • Texting

  • Facetime

  • Social media

  • Email

Bring it back to the basics! Everyone loves getting mail! The actual letter is something that can be kept and re read over and over again. The art of letter writing is fading but there are lessons to be learned

  • handwritten letters are personal and special

  • handwriting is actually a stress reliever and is a calming exercise

  • It provides opportunities for creativity and self expression

  • They can be saved and re-read for years to come

  • It's a gift of time away from computer and television screens

Don't forget that putting a voice to your difficult feelings when you miss your family is important for everyone to hear but so is changing your mindset to find new and creative ways to connect actually creates opportunities for deeper meaningful relationships. Plus, your grandchildren have adapted pretty well to distant learning and social media.

Physically supportive grandparents have been able to help in person. Physical help has provided the labor needed for the unforeseen changes and inflexibility that has been paired with this world crisis. Naturally, physically supportive grandparents are providing emotional supports. There are 2 major areas that the physical support might be experienced

1. The financial help

  • According to a new study from SimpleWise, 40% of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic can not last a month on their savings.

  • Finding creative ways for grandparents to help raise grandchildren, or young adults to help care for elderly grandparents saves families thousands of dollars each year.

  • The unaffordable housing market is keeping millennials at home, rather than a failure by millennials to hold jobs or launch careers.

  • Many families find the cost of childcare to be cost-prohibitive, therefore inviting a retired elderly parents to help raise the kids is a great alternative.

2. The safety concerns

  • Daycare centers and schools have been unable to be consistent with their day to day operations. Schools will be closed, open and then closed again often leaving working families struggling to find alternate means to care for their children.

  • Senior living facilities and nursing homes have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. Instead of keeping family members in a care facility, families are urging aging parents to move in to keep them safe from the virus.

Most grandparents are willing to help but might be struggling to adjust to their new lifestyle and role.

For overall success, parents and grandparents should have an open line of communication for topics like

  • Technology uses and limits

  • Schedules and routines

  • Discipline

Expecting too much from grandparents can create a negative result in areas of:

  • Self care

  • Physical strain

  • Burnout/compassion fatigue

Parents and Grandparents might consider using family counseling as a tool to help build a bridge to difficult family situations and dynamics.

Grandparents connecting with their grandchildren will result in an overall healthier and happier family... and that's real science.

Like what you read and want more check out or call 337-258-5199 to book an appointment.

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