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Grandparents Raising Grandkids: 10 Tips to Ease the Transition

In September of 2010, a poll by Pew Research found that the number of children being raised by their grandparents rose sharply since the start of the recession in 2007.
In fact, one in 10 grandparents were raising their childrens children. Statistics further show 2.9 million children or four percent of all U.S. children being raised by at least one grandparent.

In an earlier report, Pew said the number of households composed of multiple generations is higher than it has been in half a century. Parenting is tough enough as it is, but for grandparents who had dreams of retirement and are stepping in all over again, there are unique challenges for the new parent as well as the child.

Why the New Grandparenting Trend

education conceptHow the child is impacted by this new relationship depends upon the reason for the arrangement as well as a few factors including the child’s age and temperament, the relationship between the child and grandparents, and the health, resources, and parenting abilities of the Grandparents. In the vast number of cases Grandma and Gramps are creating a far safer and more secure home environment for their grandkids.

Economic hardship recession is clearly the biggest reason for the trend. Parents lost their jobs or their homes and can’t afford to raise their children. But other factors weigh in for the shift: Unfit parenting due to drug or abuse is the second reason and the grandparents are trying to save grandkids from the foster care system. Military parents facing multiple deployments are entrusting their children to their parents. Whatever the reason, more grandparents are stepping up and stepping in to parent.

New Crop of Grandparents: Younger, Healthier, Wiser

It turns out today’s grandparent crop is the youngest and healthiest ever which is good news for the kids. Almost two-thirds of these grandparents are under 60 – their average age is 57. Because baby boomers had their first child about five years earlier than mothers today, they are the first generation of grandparents most likely to become great-grandparents. And they are taking their new parenting role very seriously, are highly committed, and most give themselves high marks.

Researchers at Stanford University suggest that older or “second time dads” may improve in their parenting and older dads are a growing trend. (Think: David Letterman, Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers, Michael Douglas, Larry King, Paul McCartney and Kevin Costner who all fathered children in their 50s, 60s or 70s -some younger than these grandparents). Findings seem to support a notion that age produces far more than just wrinkles and gray hair: wisdom and parenting priorities come with those years. A few interesting tidbits about older dads parenting:

  • Older dads are more involved in child rearing, more visible and want to be actively involved in childrearing.
  • Older dads are more nurturing, warmer, generous with affection, and more relaxed and calmer in their parenting.
  • Older dads are more willing to share child responsibility. In fact, three times more likely to do so than younger dads.

Tips for Grandparents In Your New Role

  1. Center on a smooth transition. The key priority is to help the child adjust to the new living arrangement as smoothly as possible. There will be bumps so expect them. Prioritize on helping the child transition and see this as his new home. Bring what you need (bed, bedspread, his favorite dish, clothes, bureau) as well as his health and school records and personal photos to help him adjust.
  2. Introduce yourself as the primary caregiver. Let others (parents, teachers, coaches) know your role: You are the parent. Answer those questions with pride.
  3. Don’t stress stuff you can’t do. Forget camping out in that pup tent with your child on those scouting overnighters. (You’ll hate yourself the next morning). Playing those rough, game of hoops on the asphalt won’t do much for your knees either. Don’t stress over what you can’t do with the child. Don’t worry if your finances are tight. You’re giving your child the most priceless gift there is: a safe and loving home.
  4. Granddaughter with granddaughter knittingFocus on activities you can share. Attend those musical, ballgames, movies, and dinners with the kids. Find and do the things you enjoy together. Remember, kids consider TIME together to equal love. Find those common connectors and build a relationship with your child. With age comes wisdom: older parents are more likely to focus on quality not quantity. They also know that while there are no guarantees in how their kids turn out, research proves that the strength of the parent-child relationship is the best way to raising emotionally-healthy kids. Focus on that relationship.
  5. Keep the old, but create the new. A key goal is to create as smooth of a transition as possible and rebuild normalcy for the child. Family rituals create memories and can build security so continue past meaningful routines that are meaningful to the child (like opening presents at Christmas Eve, the special coconut birthday cake, or bedtime routines). But also create new rituals that are unique and bond him to his new family.
  6. Preserve the child’s dignity and privacy. If there was a traumatic reason (such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, loss of a home), keep an open dialogue with the child. Better to hear those details from you than someone else. You may want to withhold more traumatic and unflattering details about the child’s parents until he is more mature.
  7. Create a comeback. Chances are peers will ask why the child is living with you. Though a child never needs to give any personal and unflattering past family history, you may want to help create a simple explanation or “comeback” without all the sordid facts since she’s bound to be asked so she’s prepared.
  8. Seek counseling. Watch your grandchild carefully and tune into your grandchild’s emotional needs. Chances are you and the child will need psychological services to help you deal with any trauma in his past home. Seek help of a trained mental health professional, your clergy, as well as a school counselor, nurse and school psychologist.
  9. Get a support group. Older parents admit that one of the tougher and unique problems is that they lack a support group of parents their own age. Seek out online Grandparent Groups that are growing. AARP is another great source to offer support.
  10. Take care of you. Parenting is tough, but especially so when you’re dealing with a traumatic situation, financial hardship and you’re older. Join a health club, get those health check-ups, and watch your diet. A healthier, happier parent always produces a happier kid.

Youngest Citizens Are Forgotten Casualties of the Economy

The financial crunch is continuing to impact our society and our youngest citizens may well be forgotten statistics. Grandparents have always played a key role in child rearing, but from all indicators it seems they’ve moved far up on the “significant notch.”

On a personal note, I’ve dealt with a number of foster care cases and the grandparents were nothing short than miracle workers to the child. Grandpa and Grandma are absolute lifesavers. There are a number of lucky children who are blessed to have you in their lives.

***************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research . The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com

Homework? Conference Calls? Tips for Working-at-Home Success

Woman With Baby Working From HomeGenerations ago, staying home with the kids meant a life of housework and homework. Today, it’s likely to include conference calls, invoicing and paychecks, as more women discover the perks of being a work-at-home mom. If you’ve been considering starting your own home-based business, here are seven important tips to keep in mind.

1. Find the right job. If you already have a career in mind, or your current boss has agreed to a telecommuting arrangement, then lucky you! But if you’re not sure what sort of at-home job to pursue, do some research to find a good match for your interests and skills. Websites such as WAHM.com, HBWM.com and RatRaceRebellion.com are excellent resources for “mompreneurs.”

Among the many home-based business options available today are virtual call center and office assistant jobs, social media management, catalog sales, blogging and data entry. Or consider turning a hobby you love, such as photography or jewelry making, into a career.

2. Beware of scams. Steer clear of any company that asks for an up-front fee (although virtual call centers do require a small payment for background checks). Work-at-home expert Christine Durst, co-founder of RatRaceRebellion.com, also warns against clicking links on Facebook threads from people promising business opportunities (“Earn $7,000 a month!”). These are usually recruiters from shady pyramid scheme companies.

3. Know the costs. Depending on your line of work, you’ll probably need to invest in supplies such as shipping materials or software upgrades. Do your homework before you begin to make sure your new job won’t break your budget. If your start-up costs are high, look into options such as small business loans or even a crowdfunding campaign.

And it may take a while before you see a profit, so set aside enough savings to see you through the lean times. “There’s a real misconception out there that you can slap up a blog or start doing direct sales and money will pour in,” says Kelly Land, founder of MoneyMakingMommy.com. “Ask yourself: Can I do this around my current job so I’ll still have an income, or is there another source of income to keep us going while I do this?”

4. Take your job seriously. Just because you’re not putting on high heels in the morning doesn’t mean you’re not working. Set regular hours and stick to them, even if it means letting the housework slide or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your home office door.

5. Have a child care plan. While the point of being a WAHM is being there for your kids, it still pays to have a good support system just in case. A trusted sitter, loving grandparents or a reliable friend can be a lifesaver when you’re dealing with deadlines and a restless toddler all at once.

6. Be prepared to lose sleep. Between work responsibilities and kids’ activity schedules, many work-at-home moms find that their work day is a lot longer than the eight-hour norm. “Getting up before everyone and staying up later was the only way I could stay on track and get things accomplished,” says Land. “A lot of times, I’d just nap when the kids did.”

7. Find time to unwind. Running a business and a family can be stressful, so don’t forget to put some “me” time in your day. “For me, gaming is how I relieve stress,” says Land. “I have one friend who goes out and weeds when things get crazy, and another who can’t live without her weekly facial.”



How to Choose the Best Daycare for Your Child

Day CareOver 2.3 million American kids under five are cared for at day care centers. If you’re like most parents, I’m sure you’ve pondered the age-old question: “What impact does child care have on my child?” Well, now there’s an answer.

A federally funded study by the Early Child Care Research Network released results that will have parents and educators alike on alert. Since 1991 researchers have been tracking over 1364 families. Children in the study were randomly selected at birth (all born within 24 hours of each other) from 10 different American locations and have been followed since one month of age. Upper, middle, and lower income families were represented. Investigators examined how differences among families, children and child care arrangements might be correlated to their health as well as intellectual, social and emotional development.

The children were evaluated periodically, most recently at age 15, with a host of measures. The study is significant because it is first to track children representing all demographics and incomes a full decade after they left child care.

 Key Findings About Day Care That Parents Must Know

  • “Parents have far more influence on children’s growth and development than any type child care they receive.” (YES!)
  • Academic and behavior gains from child care that endured until age 15 were slightly higher when children were involved with “high quality child caregivers.” High quality is defined as “caregivers who are warm, supportive and provide high quality cognitive stimulation.”
  • Teens who were in high-quality child care settings before age 5 scored higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement.
  • Specific academic areas (in order) that showed the highest gains at age 15: Reading, Vocabulary, Verbal Analogies, and Math.
  • Teen also reported fewer acting-out behaviors than peers who were in lower-quality child care arrangements during their early years. [Watch the discipline policies of the providers. Are they firm, child-centered, consistent and help children learn healthier ways of behaving?]
  • Teens who spent more hours in child care in their first 4½ years of life reported a greater tendency toward impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviors (taking drugs, smoking, and alcohol) at age 15 than did peers who spent less time in child care.
  • More than a decade after parents stopped those day care payments those behavior differences were still evident.
  • Though differences in these measures among the youth were deemed small, researchers still considered them significant since the gains latest until age 15. Translation: high quality care giving in the early years affects children’s social, academic, and behavioral development in the teen years.

 

10 Questions to Help You Choose a Quality Day Care

Preschool children

OK, you’ve read the results. You recognize know that the study says the key to reap academic and behavior gains for your child’s success is to find a quality care giver. Of course you want a great day care for your child, but how to you know which facility is the best one for your child? How do you know which is a quality care facility? My strongest recommendation: observe a few centers and always observe when children are present. It will help you decide if it’s a place you want your child to spend part of his or her day. Here are ten questions to ask yourself-and the staff-to help you make your final decision.

1. Does this seem like a place my child would like to be?

Use your instinct on this one. Can you see your child fitting in and being comfortable in this environment? Are the children enjoying themselves? Do they appear to be happy and active? Is there a variety of activities that are age-appropriate for the children? You know your child better than anyone, so rely on your instincts!

2. Are there rich, interactive language experiences?

Watch the staff interaction with the children closely. Are they talking with the children? Are the children communicating with the staff? Are there rich language experiences and if so are they “hands-on” (not just paper and pencil)? For instance, is the staff reading, speaking, listening to the children? Are there outings, art, dress up, and play type of activities in which children can communicate with peers? Is there a television and if so, is it being used as a “baby sitter”?

3. Is the staff knowledgeable about child development?

Ask the staff what their philosophy about early childhood education is (don’t worry if you don’t know their answer – make sure they have one). Ask how the staff is trained in child development and how frequently? How many of the staff are credentialed in early childhood education? How do they stay current on the latest child development research (such as this study)? What is the educational background and credentials of the supervisor?

4. What is the daily schedule?

There should be a consistent daily structure where children know what is expected. Is there a balance between physical activities and quieter ones? Watch the children. Are they doing the kinds of activities your child would enjoy doing? There must be rich language experiences and activities that stimulate cognitive growth to reap those gains. Make sure children are actively engaged in creative play, interacting with adults, and are not just sitting and doing paper and pencil tasks. Make sure the television is not used as a baby sitter! Then visualize your child in this setting: Is this a good match for your child’s needs, temperament and abilities?

5. What is the ratio between staff and children?

It’s always best to have a smaller number of staff to children. You want to make sure your child is being closely watched. You also want to make sure there is positive interaction (face-to-face!!) between that caregiver and your child.

6. Is the staff “kid friendly?”

Watch the interaction between the staff and children. Do they enjoy kids? Are they patient and kid-oriented? Are they respectful towards them? And (most importantly) do the children appear to enjoy the staff? The “kid friendly” rule has always been the one I was the pickiest about when choosing a school for my own children. A key to the study was that a “High Quality Caregiver” was warm, supportive and provided quality cognitive stimulation. Watch for those traits!

7. What is the discipline policy?

Ask what their discipline approach is for inappropriate children’s behavior – especially for hitting or biting. Ask, “How do you deal with aggressive children?” Make sure they have a thought-out plan and you agree with their plan. Watch how the children interact with one another: are they caring or aggressive? If you witness an aggressive child, how does the staff respond? The NIH report found that the longer a child was in day care the more likely he would be impulsive at age 15. Habits are formed early. Make sure the facility has a proactive approach to behavior and knows how to replace acting out, aggressive behaviors with more appropriate ones.

8. Is the program within my budget?

Are there any additional costs for the program such as materials or transportation? Find out the entire budget. Is it worth the cost?

9. Will my child fit in and be safe here?

Is it well gated? Are electrical sockets covered? Are fire extinguishers available? How well are they equipped to deal with accidents? Is the staff trained in CPR? Hopefully, there will never be a safety issue, but a good day care makes sure that children’s safety is a primary focus. What do you when my child or other children are ill? Find out what the policy is when children are ill at the center. Is there a supervised location where they can be removed from the other children? Could I see my child in this facility or with this care giver? Is this a place where he would fit in, feel comfortable and thrive? (Use your instinct! Get into the shoes of your child and see the caregiver or facility from your child’s eyes!)

10. Does the staff share the same values as I do?

These people will be sharing their lives with your child, so you want them to hopefully share a few similar values. Think through what are your core beliefs about raising your child and watch to see if the staff models them. For instance: Is the staff respectful? Do they require children to be courteous and are they courteous to children? Are they dressed neatly and appropriately?

Use your instinct! Look around. Ask the parents of the other kids. Visit at a few different times and days. In the end the critical questions to ask yourself are these: “Do I want these people to be responsible for my child’s safety and well-being?” “Would my child feel safe and secure in this setting?” No one knows your child better than you. Right? Right!

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Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research . The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at amazon.com.

Care.com Features Special Needs Caregivers Nationwide

As the mother of a special needs child I was never comfortable leaving my child with anyone else unless it was an absolute emergency – and my child has very mild special needs. But let’s face it, no matter how devoted and loving you are to your children there are times when you need to get something done without a child in tow, or you just need a break. Or maybe your financial situation or important position makes it so that you need to work. So, how do you find someone you can trust, who is qualified to handle your child’s medical, physical, behavior or emotional challenges?

You can get referrals from your pediatrician, a local daycare or other area moms. You can look on your local Craig’s List, Jen’s List or advertise online or in a local paper. You can hire your cousin’s kid who is in nursing school…you know the drill. It’s tough – you probably have a lot of questions about this person who will be coming into your home. A while ago I came across Care.com, and they really make the process easier.

The site works on a membership basis with free and paid premium memberships. There are local listings of caregivers along with their experience and qualifications. Paid members can even do background checks on caregivers, which is reassuring. Care.com also lists caregivers for pets, seniors and house sitters.

No matter how highly a caregiver is recommended, be sure to interview them and trust your instincts. Watch them interact with your child (or pet or senior) and keep looking until you find one that you feel is “right” for your family.

Daycare vs. Babysitter – Is There a Right Choice?

So I am about to do something I never ever thought that I would do…Hire a babysitter to watch # 3 in my house – Gasp! I am a big, big proponent of daycare and I am famous for standing on my soap box and telling anyone who will listen why to choose day care over a babysitter. And here I am seriously considering a sitter. So let me tell you why I’m torn. For my 1st child I absolutely was sending her to daycare. In a nutshell I prefer it. Let me say generally when I say day care I am referring to one that you have thoroughly researched and are sure it is licensed and has no violations against it and one that is NOT in someone’s house.

I can honestly go on and on about daycare but I don’t have the space here so I’ll put my top two reasons.

  1. Socializationthe socialization children receive in a daycare setting is priceless. Your child will learn how to share, play with other children and wait their turn and wash their hands and eat together at a table and …the learning is endless.
  2. Accountabilitychances are your child will never be alone with an adult in day care, it’s pretty difficulty, most daycares have open bathrooms for the little ones (no doors) so there’s no privacy. In all the years I have been a prosecutor in child abuse and sex crimes I have handled thousands of cases, I personally have never had a physical or sexual abuse case where the child was victimized at day care. My office has handled a handful of physical abuse case against a daycare worker but that is the exception not to rule. However, and this is huge, in most of my cases (when I say most I mean 100%)… where there is an allegation of sexual or physical abuse of a child the accused is a family member or a close friend. The accused is NOT a stranger. Unless you have a nanny cam there is no accountability for your sitter.

It is a huge step to trust someone with your child especially your first because chances are you have never seen the sitter take care of a child before. So you may ask why would I go against my own advice now and choose a sitter for #3? Convenience, that’s why. I am all ready to go back to work (not really but I must) and I have no child care lined up for #3. I was considering a few daycares and discussing this dilemma with my cleaning lady/ occasional babysitter/friend when she said “I’ll watch the baby!” WOO HOO really I thought? I love, love, LOVE this woman and so do my kids. I never even thought about having a babysitter until she suggested it. And you know what she said to me? “You can’t send #3 to daycare, you need someone here to clean up for you and to cook dinner for you!” REALLY? Yes I do actually. I really trust this woman and I have seen her with my kids. I have been to her house and know her family. Sometimes she even stops by unexpectedly on a Saturday and plays with my kids.

Returning to work with 3 kids will be a lot. And the less I have to do when I get home the easier my life is. My job is tremendously stressful and I don’t want to worry about all the extras when I get home from work. I want to come home and play with the kids and hear all that I missed while I was at work. All of my worries went out the window with a 3 minute conversation with a friend. I know my kids will be safe and happy with the sitter … still, that’s not to say there won’t be a camera in this house.

A Sincere Thank You To Responsible Special Needs Caregivers…

I was literally brought to tears by yet another story of a special needs child who was mistreated by her alleged caregivers. So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to express my gratitude, appreciation and admiration.  Thank you…

  • To every caseworker, nurse and doctor who questions parents and caregivers diligently and actually follows up…
  • To every teacher’s aide who forms a bond with a special needs student…
  • To every therapist who really cares about every client, whether they make progress or not…
  • To every child on every playground who has included a special needs child in play…
  • To every teacher who spends personal time on assessments and IEPs…
  • To every agency or non-profit worker who strives to bring special needs children experiences and opportunities…

To every special needs parent or caregiver who treats that child with love, especially if they are incapable of expressing it back…

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