"Special" Grandparenting

In a perfect world, all grandchildren would be fit and strong, and able to enjoy a wide variety of activities and an exceptionally close relationship with their grandparents. In reality, many grandparents are finding that traditional grand-parenting roles and rules simply cannot meet the unique challenges of our imperfect world. Fortunately, resilient Grandparents are determined to rise to these challenges, and in doing so are becoming amazing sources of support and strength for their children and their grandchildren. Here are some key points to remember in successful Special Grandparenting:

  • UNITY: Always follow the parents’ lead.  Consistency is the foundation of every routine, schedule, and program for your grandchild. Deviating from that consistency will only create confusion and anxiety in your grandchildren and frustration for their parents.
  • INFORMATION: Read every evaluation thoroughly. Ask questions if you need clarity. Read books, go online, visit the library, do whatever you need to do to research every aspect of your grandchild’s disability. You can’t help if you don’t know.
  • AWARENESS: Make supporting your children and grandchildren a community affair. Community Awareness leads to community tolerance and community acceptance: everyone wins!
  • ACCEPTANCE: Do NOT speculate about what might have caused your grandchild’s condition. Blame, guilt, and shame are negative emotions that will only cause pain; they will not change your grandchild’s disability.
  • PATIENCE: Slow down. Plan on spending TIME with your grandchild. You and your unconditional love are very much needed. Take the time to find the pace that your grandchild needs to feel safe. Make the connection.
  • RESPITE: Raising a child with a disability is a 24 hour per day / 7 day per week commitment. There are no vacations or sick days. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give your children is relaxation time.
  • COMPASSION: Realize that the stress of raising a child with a disability may cause family members to be more sensitive than they would otherwise be. Sometimes we need to vent; and other times we just need someone to listen.