Dealing with substance abuse in the home, and worrying about the safety and welfare of grandchildren should never be thrust upon grandparents wanting only to enjoy and spoil their young grandkids. But with so many kids growing up in abusive homes, too many grandparents either assume the role of primary caregiver, or worry constantly about the safety of the kids. There a number of proactive steps grandparents can take to improve the situation.
Grandparents want to play with, enjoy and spoil their young grandkids, and they never want to be concerned about the stability of the home environment or worried about the safety of their young grandchildren. But with so many kids growing up in homes with alcoholic or drug abusing parents, too many kids, and by extension grandparents, have a lot more than normal to worry about.
About a million and a half kids in America are being raised by grandparents…and substance abuse and addiction is a major casual factor for grandparents assuming the role of primary caregiver; and while grandparents surely never wished for the responsibility of parenting again, the stress and concern of leaving kids in questionable or dangerous environments can be even worse.
The pains of addiction resonate through the family, and extend beyond the borders of the immediate family home, and nothing is worse than a feeling of impotence to effect change for the better and constant worry for the welfare of beloved grandchildren.
The obvious solution to the problem is to convince abusing parents of the need to change behaviors, and to attend needed drug or alcohol treatments; if only for the good of the children. An organized family intervention with pre arranged and ready treatment can be extremely effective at convincing even unwilling and denying addicts of the need to concede to treatment. Nagging, shaming and lecturing don’t work, and can even exacerbate the level of abuse; and neither does pretending that all is well do anything to improve the situation. Proactive and constructive actions are needed, and an intervention is a great place to start.
If an intervention does not convince of a need for treatment, grandparents need to take other proactive steps to ensure the safety of the children in the home. The behaviors of addiction can be painful to bear, and although taking extreme measures to protect the children is never easy, acting out of concern for the welfare of the children is always appropriate, no matter how emotionally complex and difficult the decision to intervene may be.
According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, there are three concrete things that grandparents need to do when children remain in an abusive household.
1 Get informed
To really affect daily realities, grandparents need to understand the nature of addiction and abuse, and understand the real risks to the children in the home. Information can be sourced from print and web resources, from professional organizations, and through peer support groups such as al anon, or other grandparents groups.
2 Know your options
No grandparent ever wants to call child protection services on their children, but if the situation becomes desperate enough, it may be required. Grandparents need to get educated as to the legal and community organizations offering support, and know what their legal and community options are in case of extreme eventualities.
3 Be a source of stability and comfort
Children of alcoholics or drug abusers crave stability and comfort, and grandparents can offer sanctuary and a needed place of emotional and physical escape to children suffering in abusive homes. Grandparents can be sure that children understand that addiction is a disease, and that the behaviors of addiction are all a part of the disease; and make sure especially that children understand that they are in no way at fault, that they didn’t cause the situation, and they are not responsible to change it.
Kids always want to love their parents, so grandparents should also strive to accentuate anything positive about the parent child relationship, and never to needlessly degrade the abusing parent.
Grandparents can do a lot to help kids in homes with substance abuse
Grandparents should never need to worry about the safety of their grandchildren, but too many kids are growing up in very negative environments and suffering the alcohol or drug abuse of one or both parents. Grandparents can help, and they need to get involved, try to enact change, look out for the safety and well being of their grandkids, and always be ready to offer needed comfort and stability.