Julie Leete, Lismore area manager, Interrelate
In September we observed Grandparents Day. For those of us lucky enough to have known our grandparents many of us value the love and support of Nanny or Pop. However, there are a growing number of grandparents who take on the additional role of parents for their grandchildren.
In December 2007 it was estimated that there were at least 70,000 children in Australia being cared for primarily by their grandparents. More and more grandparents are taking on the caring role, providing love, support and stability for the grandchildren. This may mean even putting well-earned retirement on hold. This is a sudden major upheaval in the grandparents’ life, with the extra costs of raising a child a second time round. These financial, legal and social costs usually occur with little outside help.
Grandparents tell us they wish to see their grandchildren given the best possible chance of reaching their full potential, and are prepared to bear considerable hardship and considerable joys in pursuit of this goal. While we want the children to live with their parents where possible sometimes this is not possible. At a recent Grandparents Day I was overwhelmed by the stories that grandparents told and their grief and loss on many levels and their determination to provide the best possible outcomes for their grandchildren.
As I reflect on Grandparents Day I am reminded of the wonderful support many grandparents provide. Joyce Allston said, ‘Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins’. Marjory Barslow-Greenbie said, ‘Beautiful young people are accidents of nature / But beautiful old people are works of art’.
To all those wonderful grandparents out there, happy Grandparents Day. If you are a grandparent caring for your grandchildren there is a free monthly support group at Interrelate Family Relationship Centre.