Supporting children: a guide for grandparents
If you're looking after your grandchild you are not alone. There are over 46,000 families in Australia where the grandparent is the primary caregiver to the children.1 One of the reasons why grandparents are put in this situation is because their children have problems with alcohol or other drugs. This can be difficult for everyone involved. The grandchildren may feel alone and unloved. They often don't understand why their parents can't look after them. As a grandparent it's common to feel angry, hurt and powerless, but it's important to remember that you can help yourself and your grandchildren.
Two important facts
Supporting your grandchildren
Supporting your children
Try to provide support to your child rather than judging or criticising them. Criticising your child in front of your grandchildren may only result in them both feeling worse and becoming defensive.
Knowing whether to give money to a family member who is taking drugs is a complicated issue. You don't want to enable their drug use but you also don't want to see them in debt or resort to illegal means to obtain money from elsewhere. Whatever you decide will be right for you, as long as you do not give them more than you can afford. It's important not to get into debt to support their drug use. If you do choose to assist them financially, make it a conscience decision and do it without resentment.
Try to avoid verbal and/or physical confrontation with your child it will only worsen, not help, the situation. If you have fears for your own or your family's safety, you should contact the police. You can discuss the possibility of taking out an intervention order.
It can be difficult raising grandchildren, especially when you are getting older and may have your own health problems.
The drug use in the family may create difficult relationships with family members and friends. Relationships can be further strained when legal proceedings are involved. Grandparents often need to formalise their roles through legal avenues to access government subsidies to support their grandchildren.
1. Commonwealth of Australia Community Affairs References Committee. (2014). Grandparents who take primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren.
Last updated: 22 June 2016