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Relatives who step up to care for the children


            Parenting is not for the faint of heart. These days – and it is happening more often these days – grandparents are standing in the parenting role. Let’s not overlook the aunts, uncles and other relatives who have stepped up to take care of children whose parents are unavailable to them for whatever reason.

            Parenting is so much more than conceiving and birthing babies. Parenting requires stepping up and being responsible. (Responsible: obligated to do something; being the primary cause of something for which you may be blamed or credited.) A responsible parent realizes that he/she are no longer the center of their world. The parents make the decisions to bring a child into the world and their own lives are changed forever. The child, dependent on them to provide for him or her until he reaches the age of accountability, learns from his parents how to be when they reach maturity. (Accountability: the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility. Mature: having reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult.)

            Sometimes things happen. Parents are unable to fulfill their duties to their children. Family (a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage; people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy suitable for children as well as adults) connections are precious when a child’s world is in crisis, bringing special challenges to their lives that need discipline and stability as well as acceptance and unconditional love. (Unconditional love: affection without any limitations or love without conditions; complete love.) You can read about the various facets of love in The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

            Your friends may tell you that your grandchild is not your responsibility, but you may strongly believe that young children need to be cared for by the people who love them.

            In the pamphlet, “Raising Your Grandchild: a tough but rewarding job,” the Prevent Child Abuse America organization says, “Grandchildren lovingly raised by grandparents have a chance to be cared for by adults they already know, stay connected to family stories and traditions, find strength and identity in their family’s culture, and find stability and belonging.”

            There is a lot to think about: expenses and resources to meet the costs of providing for the grandchildren and how all of it affects the caregiver who often is on a fixed income. There are the legal issues like the authority the caregiver has to take care of the child(ren). What are the basics the caregiver needs to know? How will the caregiver also take care of self, to be at their best for their young charges.

            The new grandparenting is a tough job. For many, the days of spoiling grandchildren then sending them home to Mom and Dad are long gone. The influence grandparents, aunts and uncles have over the children helps to mold character, teach wisdom and propagate unconditional love.

            To obtain a copy of the pamphlet, “Raising Your Grandchild: a tough but rewarding job,” contact Jennifer Thorn at 330-424-1468, or

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