Tips for grandparents raising their grandchildren

Parenting your grandchildren is not an easy job, but here are some tips to get you started.

In Michigan, there are 66,738 grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren. Grandparents may feel strongly about keeping their families together, but this responsibility may be financially, physically and emotionally devastating. Fortunately, there is information available to assist grandparents who are parenting their grandchildren, such as “Grandparents Raising Children” from AARP.

Grandparents have to show their commitment to unifying the family. The cornerstone of unification is trust. Grandparents must fulfill their promises and show support during challenging times. They must be patient and encourage the children to freely express their feelings. Unification does not happen quickly, but is necessary to build a strong family.

A refresher on child development will help grandparents set realistic expectations for their grandchildren. This will eliminate frustration on both sides. The grandparents will realize the child is not being deliberately defiant and the child is not asked to do something beyond their capability. Setting realistic expectations is critical when establishing rules and routines.

Self-care is crucial for grandparents. Now, more than ever, they need to eat healthy, take their medications and keep their doctor appointments. Physical activity, such as walking or yoga, will help their bodies deal with stress and increase energy. Meditation and relaxation techniques will increase focus and relieve stress. By attending support group meetings, they will connect with others in similar circumstances and discover relevant information.

Many grandparents are living on fixed incomes and may not have enough resources to support a growing family. There are government programs to ease their financial burden. Grandparents should start their search for benefits at This website will simplify the search for food, monetary and health benefits.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to Michigan State University Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Report:  “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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