If I am a Grandparent, what are the benefits of raising my grandchildren in Virginia? 

Increasingly, when parents are unable to raise their children, grandparents are the ones who step in to help.  Raising a grandchild can definitely have benefits, but it can also bring many challenges.  Below are some tips to deal with the added of stress of parenting your grandchildren.  


Protect your health

    As a grandparent, you probably have less energy and your health may be starting to decline.  Your schedule probably now includes juggling new demands and coordinating different schedules.  Because of this, it can be tempting to put your own medical appointments and medical care to the side.  But, it is important not to ignore your own needs.  Make it a priority to keep up with regular doctor appointments, get plenty of sleep, and participate in “leisure” activities, such as taking walks through the neighborhood.  


Be realistic about your grandchild’s feelings and your own emotions

    For the first few weeks of the new arrangement, grandchildren may be confused about why they are living with you instead of their parents.  Your grandchild may express negative or mixed emotions instead of acting appreciative like you would expect.  While these attitudes may make you feel resentful, guilty, or even angry, it is important to keep your emotions in check and understand that the adjustment period will take some time.  


Talk often

    Open and honest communication is extremely important, especially when dealing with a life changing event.  Your grandchild needs to know that he or she can talk to you about anything.  Therefore, let them know that you are always available to talk or available to just listen if they want to vent.  It is also important to remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself.  If you think your grandchild has serious behavioral issues, make sure you consult a professional who can step in and help. 


Enforce routines to help your grandchild adjust

    In order to make the transition into your care easier, make sure to set a schedule for eating, homework, and bedtimes.  It is also helpful to assign age-appropriate chores and explain house rules and enforce those rules consistently. 


Talk to an attorney about your legal status

    If you are going to be taking care of your grandchild for a long period of time, you may want to establish some kind of legal relationship.  Without this relationship, you may not be able to make medical decisions for your grandchild or access his or her school records.  


Join a support group

    Because grandparents are becoming common caretakers, there are plenty of people you can talk to about this new relationship.  Meeting other grandparents who are in charge of their families can provide a network to help you learn about services, financial help, legal advice, and counseling.  For a list of Grandparent support groups in Virginia, visit www.grandfactsheets.org.  


If you are a grandparent caregiver who needs help establishing a legal relationship with your grandchild, contact the attorneys at Smith Strong at (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298.

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg