February 3, 2012


We hear a lot these days from the politicians, that we must have “change”. As adults, we can listen to the options, and make choices. But for children transformations just occur, without their input. Change can be upsetting, scary and even life-changing to children and adults. As great/grandparents we can help provide some balance and security to the changes and adjustments children and their families may have to face.

It starts early for children. We expect them to give up many things that are part of their daily routine in life. Give up the bottle, give up diapers, give up naps, give up eating with hands, etc. All of these changes we view as positive. With non-verbal infants, it is particularly difficult to have them understand the transitions. Extra loving, holding, and soothing can help. For the youngest and even some of the older children, it may be difficult to accept this progression of changes that we call “growing up”. And we can help support them in their ever shifting world.

Some of these changes or transitions can be truly difficult for children to understand and therefore learn to adapt to and accept. Among these are moving, job loss and divorce.

Moving: Moving from one place to another is a given in these days of economic recession. This will require children to be in different settings for childcare and/or schools, new faces, new rules, new friends, and new geography.

Job Loss: When a parent or parents lose their jobs, their feelings can range from despair to anger to high anxiety. Without wanting to, this can all be reflected in the love and care they display with the children.

Divorce: Changing from a two parent household to a one parent family is a devastating situation for children and their parents. Often both children and parents have open feelings of anger, sadness, disorientation and depression.
How can we as great/grandparents help?

Needless to say, parents and children need non-judgmental comforting in these circumstances.

If our children are so stressed by the situation and there is little emotional support left over for their children, then we can be available to be listeners to our great/grandchildren. We can encourage our great/grandchildren to express their feelings and concerns, always being mindful NOT to judge.

We know that children often make wrong assumptions about the reasons for some of these changes. They often think they are to blame for the changes and that they did something wrong and are responsible for them.

It is important to help children go through the process of talking and understanding the realities of why the changes are happening, keeping in mind, age appropriate explanations. Reassuring that we will always be there to support them is the best we can do.