Having actively experienced one round of parenting, a growing number of local grandparents are now finding themselves stepping up to the challenge of raising their own children’s children.
This is a growing trend, happening not only in Nakusp and area, but in numerous communities throughout the nation, an offshoot of the radical changes happening in society, taking place globally as well as locally.
For some grandparents, such major shifts in lifestyle are viewed as a welcome turn-of-events, as in the case of local residents John and Sarah. For reasons of confidentiality, I have changed their names to protect their privacy, however the couple’s story still remains true.
Having chosen to retire early followed by relocation to Nakusp, the couple soon moved into their new home, to be joined shortly afterward, by their young grandson Richard. A variety of unexpected changes within Richard’s birth-family home had precipitated the move, and it was mutually agreed that his grandparents would be in the best position to provide the boy with a safe and loving environment in which to grow up.
However, according to Sarah and her husband, the prospect of assuming the responsibility of becoming Richard’s primary caregivers, instead of his natural parents, weighed heavily on their minds. In particular, a major concern was how they were going to handle the significantly higher costs associated with raising a child.
Also of some consequence to consider, the potential emotional crises which might arise amongst various family members, from time to time, and how such incidents might affect the emotional well-being of Richard. In addition, John and Sarah were concerned about achieving and maintaining a healthy level of acceptance of Richard’s non-traditional living arrangement on the part of their grandson’s classmates, families and friends.
The couple had little to be concerned about, however, as they were soon to discover.
“We were absolutely astounded by the significant level of caring and support clearly exhibited on the part of this amazing community whenever a need arose,” Sarah declared during our interview, adding, “the District school support system was totally in place.” Not only the administration, but also the teachers, counselors and support staff, other students and their parents all expressed right from the beginning, kindness, understanding and respect toward each of the newly arrived residents.
Peter, another local grandparent who, together with his wife Jean, raised their young granddaughter for many years at their Nakusp residence, cast further light on the subject.
“The time I spent with my wife and my own young family was far too limited when they were growing up while I was involved with building my career,” he recalled.
In a sense, however, Peter was given a second chance in later years by warmly inviting the couple’s granddaughter Jill to live with them in their retirement home when difficulties within her own family home began to arise.
“Finally, I had the time for my family which I had always craved,” Peter stated with conviction.
“When Jill came to live with us, it became evident that this was the ideal opportunity for us as her grandparents, to be able to share our mutual interests and personal concerns with her, on a one-on-one basis.”
Peter says he now takes great pleasure reflecting on how he and Jean made a valuable contribution to their granddaughter’s quality of life by instilling a positive attitude and set of values which in turn has led to her being able to live happily and independently on her own while attending college in a larger urban centre.
Although Nakusp area residents are fortunate in having accessible emotional and practical local support available to them when a need arises, a new province-wide program entitled “The Grandparents (and other family members) Raising Children telephone support Helpline” also recently came into effect.
Essentially this Helpline is an information/referral and counseling resource intended to assist families here at home as well as those residing in any oother B.C. community. Families in crisis often face many intersecting legal and financial issues such as child benefit eligibility. As part of their own journey through life, caregivers also need to familiarize themselves with various aspects of family law and other parenting concerns including advocacy and government services related to kinship caregiving.
For further information regarding the Helpline service, call toll free 1-855-474-9777.