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Raising a Child with Grandparents




It is estimated that between 2.4 and 2.8 million parents shared a premises with their children’s grandparents throughout 2009. This number has continually increased during the duration of the last decade, where a large percentage of single parents or couples are taking the decision to sacrifice their independence and ultimately share the living and parenting burden with their relatives. While there are several factors which either influence or force this decision, there is a potential that such dilution of parenting responsibility and accountability is detrimental to the behaviour of children. Whether a considered choice or consequence of circumstance, if the lines of communication and authority are blurred and merged between different factions, then a child may find themselves confused and ultimately betrayed by this ill defined example of parenthood. Changes Caused by Economic Hardship The increase in the number of parents that live with relatives is in some part due to the continued economic hardship. This has forced many couples to leave or sell their properties and seek more cost effective living arrangements. Such circumstances are not the ideal basis for children at the best of times, but the resentment and confusion that can ensue from increasing then number of authority figures and diluting parents own responsibility can create and even more hostile and disruptive environment. Such a transition requires preparation and consideration in order to be achieved effectively. It also demands an understanding that while logistical and living arrangements have been modified by circumstance, a parent’s ethos of discipline and routine must remain the same. The biggest challenge of this lies with the sudden addition of new potential parental figures, and the temptation for a child’s parents to relax their strict routines and allow grandparent figures to adopt some of the responsibility for daily nurturing. This may suit a short term requirement, but once the situation has been reversed parents have often found that there authority and relevance as figureheads have been greatly marginalized. This not only makes it difficult for a child to fully respect their parent’s methods and wisdom, it also sends them a mixed message as to the importance of accepting responsibility for their actions. When stripped to its core, having children is little more than a consequence of an action conducted between two people, and by sharing this load disproportionately it teaches a child that acts need not lead to their full significance or corollary. Resentment between Adult Relatives It is not only child and parent relationships that suffer through a poorly managed living transition. Parents themselves are suddenly thrust into living alongside their own parental figures or in-laws, which can either recount previous differences within the relationship or create new instances of resentment and conflict. The main cause of discontent within such circumstances is a situation where grandparents, who are enjoying the latter stages of their life and retirement, are required to provide more than just a roof and actually contribute more than is acceptable to the day to day raising of their grand children. This unreasonable circumstance can often develop from subconscious deeds rather than a deliberate attempt on behalf of parents to relax their attitudes. The mere presence of an additional family support mechanism within the home can encourage parents to forget their responsibility on the basis that there is always someone there to share the burden. If not discussed or raised as an issue, then grandparents may be forced to adopt a more hands on role, thus creating a resentment towards their own children over the quality if not the quantity of the time they spend with their grandchildren. In truth, this instance can only be avoided by daily lines of communication between the adults, and also by parents not losing site of their own responsibilities and duties. While the immediate surroundings may have changed, their routines and daily strategies as parents have no need to be amended or modified. This not only ensures that children remain focused and clear on exactly who their chief parental influences are, but also sets an excellent example of parental strength and evolving to adapt to different circumstances without chaos and disruption. Children are impressionable, and susceptible to all forms of learned behaviour between the ages of 2 and upwards. Everything a parent does must be clear, defined and set a desired template of living to their children, thus maintaining a consistency of routine and also in the roles of parents and other significant adults in their lives.


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Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of www.ExcitingAds.com / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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