Raising Your Grandchildren

What's Happening?

No matter why or how they came to live with you, your grandchildren will benefit from being in your home. When children cannot be with their parents, living with a grandparent may provide:

  • Fewer moves from place to place
  • The comfort of a familiar language and culture
  • A chance to stay with siblings
  • More contact with their parents, depending on the situation

What You Might Be Seeing

Despite these benefits, the children will face some unique challenges:

  • They may feel insecure and unsure that you will take care of them.
  • They may act out or challenge you.
  • They will miss their parents.
  • They may be anxious or depressed.
  • They may seem young or act too old for their ages.

What You Can Do

It will take time for your grandchildren to feel safe and secure in their new home with you. You can encourage these good feelings in a number of ways:

  • Set up a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities.
  • Help your grandchildren feel "at home" by creating a space just for them.
  • Talk to your grandchildren, and listen when they talk to you.
  • Set up a few rules and explain your expectations. Then, enforce the rules consistently.
  • Reward positive behavior. When children make mistakes, focus on teaching rather than punishing.
  • Be as involved with their school as you can, and encourage your children to participate in school activities.

This is a big job, and you may need help from your community. Here are some suggestions:

  • Help with housing or other bills, clothing, or school supplies may be available specifically for grandparents raising grandchildren in your community.
  • Join a support group. Often there are local groups for grandparents raising grandchildren.
  • Ask for help and referrals from a church leader, the counselor at your child's school, or a social services agency.
  • If necessary, get professional help to address your grandchild's special needs, such as medical care, mental health care, or special education.

Parenting the second time around brings special challenges and special joys. Do not hesitate to ask for help or seek services in your community for yourself and your grandchildren.

This tip sheet was created with input from experts in national organizations that work to protect children and promote healthy families. For more parenting tip sheets, go to www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/promoting/parenting or call 800.394.3366.