Grandparents are very important to children. They give lots of love and are a precious link with family, culture and the past.
Grandparents are special
It is natural for children to spend time with grandparents. Grandparents can give children:
- love and a place where they feel safe and secure
- a sense of belonging to family, culture and community.
- play, talk and have fun with children
- talk about family and culture, and tell stories from the past
- listen to children's worries - tell them you love them
- show children how to do things - cooking, art, craft, gardening, home chores
- take children out and about and to cultural events.
Grandparents and children build special bonds that last a lifetime.
What children need
- Kindness and patience.
- Someone to understand their feelings.
- Regular routines such as mealtimes and bedtimes.
- Encouragement to learn - share books, stories, songs. Ask about their school work.
- To know what the rules are in your home - what is OK and not OK.
- To be shielded from adult problems.
Remember it's OK to say 'no' to children when you need to.
Grandparenting can be great fun.
When children live with grandparents
Some children stay with grandparents overnight, during school holidays or for a short time to give parents a break. Sometimes children live with grandparents for a long time. This can happen suddenly. Grandparents usually say 'yes' no matter what. It can mean:
- a full house
- lots to do
- less time for you
- extra cost
- an impact on your physical and mental health.
Children can feel:
- happy and excited
- unhappy, worried, angry or confused - they just want their mum or dad.
Be patient. Children living with you might need extra love and support.
Getting along with your adult children
It's best for grandchildren if you get along with their parents. This can be hard if there is conflict. When you talk with your adult children:
- listen and talk things through
- try not to criticise or take over
- ask how you can help
- suggest services that might be useful.
As much as you can:
- put grandchildren's needs first
- don't take sides
- give people time to work things out.
If your adult children don't take your advice - you might have to accept they do things differently!
Talk about children's parents kindly. Children love them no matter what.
Help for grandparents
- Ask Centrelink about any support you might be entitled to.
- Make sure you get concessions on things like gas, electricity, rates, transport.
- Find out about services in your area such as child care or respite.
- If children need help at school, talk with their teachers.
- Contact your local Aboriginal health service - they can help you find what you need.
- Join a women's or men's group and share ideas with others.