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Jan is a sixty-five-year-old grandmother who was given custody of her two grandsons, aged 8 and 15, after her daughter was jailed for drug abuse. “At first, it was a joy to have them in our house,” said Jan, whose grandchildren came to live with her one year ago. “They seemed so happy to be here. But then the real problems started. Now, my older grandson either just plain ignores me or he talks back—I don’t know which is worse. And the younger one is starting to follow suit. I’m starting to wonder where we went wrong.”

Raising Grandkids: When the Honeymoon is Over

Like Jan, often when you first take your grandchild in, there’s a honeymoon period where the change of environment and absence of stress from the old living situation gives your grandchild the chance to show his or her best side, which is great. Sadly, all too often the honeymoon ends. And the problematic behaviors emerge—sometimes slowly, sometimes with great rapidity. Either way, it knocks the family off balance.

The honeymoon should be expected, but grandparents should not be deceived into thinking that a magic solution to the family’s problems has occurred by having the grandchildren come live with them. If the honeymoon never ends and your grandchild always does great, that’s beautiful.  But sometimes these kids are initially being manipulative, and are using their skills to try to “con” their grandparents. It’s my experience that this is a very common thing for kids to do. So if the period of calm ends and the disruptive behavior emerges, I tell grandparents “Don’t blame yourself. This is just the end of the honeymoon. And you’re starting to see the child in the light of his true problems.”

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If You’re Helping to Raise Your Grandchildren While Their Parents are Working

Many grandparents are watching their grandkids in the daytime while a single parent or even both parents are working. So in effect, those kids have two sets of parents and two parenting styles to cope with, and those styles may not always be in sync.

If the picture is that there’s a working single parent and that you are raising the child during the work hours, it’s very important that you and the child’s parents sit down and come to a common understanding of how you’re going to manage behavior, what the limits are, and the range of consequences that are appropriate. New situations will present themselves every day, and you may get frustrated from time to time and feel like you’re going back to the drawing board, but stick with it—it’s very important that all the adults in the child’s life are on the same page.

The difficulty here is that grandparents don’t like to be told how to raise their grandkids, thinking that they’ve raised their own children and know how to do it just fine. And parents don’t want their kids to be raised outside of their own philosophy. This can become a point of conflict between grandparents and their children. Communication and a willingness to look and learn by both parties will prevent this problem from becoming a crisis.

When You Have Custody of Your Grandchildren Because of Parental Addiction, Abandonment or Neglect

Children who are living with their grandparents because of parental addiction, neglect or abandonment bring a whole set of other problems to deal with. These kids are already programmed to deal with the negative environment they came from, and may not be ready to move into a family situation where there are boundaries and rules. What grandparents have to remember is, when your grandchildren move in with you, you are their new family.

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In my private practice, I knew many grandparents who raised their grandchildren because of parental neglect, abandonment, incarceration or substance abuse. Frankly, these grandparents had their hands full. Often their grandkids came to them with a constellation of inappropriate behaviors already firmly in place. It was very hard for these grandparents to try to change that behavior or intervene in the child’s life.  And there are generational difficulties, as well as physical problems with caring for children when you’re older. Your energy levels and mental flexibility may not be what they were when you were parenting young children yourself.

If the picture is that the grandparents are raising the child because of parental neglect, abuse or abandonment, above all, the parents should not be allowed to undermine the authority or rules the grandparents have put in place. You should limit or forbid visits until the parent is willing to comply with that. That’s because the grandparents have now become the primary parents, and the birth parents have to take a secondary role. It’s all too easy for the secondary parents to judge grandparents and be critical of their efforts, because it helps the birth parent not look at his or her own irresponsibility and neglect. But this should not be tolerated, especially in front of the children. The grandparents and the birth parent have to communicate, share thoughts and ideas, and then come to some method of operating together.

I want to be clear: such meetings should not become a forum for birth parents to be abusive, oppositional or defiant to the grandparent. This is all too often the case. Grandparents should not accept blame from birth parents who have lost their ability to meet their own parenting responsibilities.

“You’re not my mom! I don’t have to listen to you!”

When your grandchild says, “You’re not my parent!” I think the best strategy here is to agree with the child.  You can say, “You’re right, I’m not your mom. But you live in my house now, and these are the rules in my house.” Do not condemn the mom or dad or get into a discussion about it. All you have to say is, “There are the rules here, and there will be consequences if you don’t follow them.”

When kids say “You’re not my mom or dad,” what they’re really trying to do is take the power away from you. Focus on what your role is: Caretaker. That means you should inform the child what the rules are in your house. The whole idea here is to avoid a power struggle. What your grandchild is doing is inviting you to a fight. And remember, you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to. Avoid the power struggle, and calmly state what your role is and what the rules are. It’s very important to verbalize no judgments about the mother or father. Judgments will only lead to more anger and resentment, which will lead to more power struggles.

I want to add that I really admire and respect grandparents—or anyone who adopts or takes in a child who has behavioral problems. In my opinion, they’re amazing. But that doesn’t mean that you can do it alone. And just as parents need help, so do grandparents, and I urge you to get the help you need to successfully live with and raise these children.

For Grandparents whose Grandchildren are Being Physically Abusive

First of all, if your grandchild is being physically abusive to you, you should call the police. There’s no excuse for physical abuse. You did not work all your life to be abused physically in your later years. If you want to be a martyr and allow that, that’s your choice. But understand this: choosing to be a martyr doesn’t help the child. If you think you are doing it to help that child, what you need to understand is that the most important thing for that child is to have powerful limits set for them. And if they won’t accept the limits imposed by you, then you need to look outside the home for entities with more power, such as the police and the social service system. Often you’ll hear grandparents state that they don’t want to call the authorities because they’re afraid their grandchild will end up in group home or institution. My response is clear: if he’s physically hurting you, robbing you, or abusing you, maybe he needs to be in a group home or institution where the resources are available to teach him how to manage himself.

I don’t say this to be harsh. I say it with complete empathy for your situation. The fact remains that kids who are physically abusive, steal, set fires, or destroy property often need more resources than the ordinary family has to offer. These behaviors should be taken very seriously indeed, because they can be precursors of much larger problems.

If You’re Considering Taking in a Grandchild, Ask Yourself: Are You Able to Manage a Child with Behavioral Problems?

In my experience, many of the grandparents I worked with were very committed to their grandchildren, but were in fact just plain tired. They had lived their lives, they had worked like dogs, they had raised their kids, and now when they were dealing with their own failing health and financial problems, they felt obligated to take on the burden of raising their grandchildren. While I respect the generosity of grandparents tremendously, I wouldn’t always advise people to try to manage a behaviorally disordered grandchild. Each case is different. Remember, if the kid is well-behaved and knows how to manage himself, accept authority and recognize limits, the grandparents can do fine. But behaviorally disordered children are not only draining, they require people who have acquired special techniques in order to manage them.

Parenting Today Ain’t What it Used to Be: Get Help if You Need It

Many of the behaviors grandparents have to address today were not part of the youth culture 30 or 50 years ago: The blatant disrespect, the demand for autonomy, the open defiance to rules. These things were present, but not at the level of intensity they are today. Grandparents I met in my practice often reported to me how shocked and discouraged they where when their grandkids did not accept their authority or the limits they set.

My advice to grandparents in cases where inappropriate behaviors start to emerge is to get help. That help can be outside the home in a counselor’s office, or that help can be inside the home through a training program like The Total Transformation. If these children have behavior disorders, you’re going to see all that goes along with that: manipulative behavior, risk taking, rigidity, senseless defiance. Remember not to blame yourself if these behaviors emerge: grandparents need as much help as anybody else in dealing with these issues.

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The Single Parent Juggling Act: 5 Tips to Help You Manage

About

James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation®, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.

Comments (28)
  • Val
    I'm tired and I can hardly remember what life was like. God gives me strength and I go on with surviving another day. I really thought i was beyond feeling like that.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    At wits end grandma  

    I hear you, and I recognize what a difficult situation this

    must be for you right now.  It sounds like you are working with local

    supports like therapists and doctors to help you address your grandson’s

    behavior and I encourage you to continue to do so.  Because they have the

    ability to directly observe and interact with your grandson and your

    communication with him, they will be in a better position to develop a plan to

    assist you in moving forward with him.  If you are not already doing so, I

    also encourage you to make sure you have some support for yourself as

    well.  Self-care is an often overlooked, yet crucial part of

    parenting.  When this aspect is ignored, it can have an impact on how

    effective you are able to be in setting limits and enforcing rules.  If

    you need help locating support for yourself, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a

    service which helps people to locate services in their community, such as

    counselors, support groups, kinship provider resources, and many others. 

    I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    DebbieTunnell  

    We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

    sharing your story.  I’m sorry to hear about the situation you are

    currently in with your husband. Because we are a website aimed at helping

    people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and

    suggestions we can give regarding your marriage. It may be helpful to look into

    local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your issues with your

    husband. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a

    day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services

    available in your area such as counselors, support groups, kinship services as

    well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling

    1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto http://www.211.org/. We

    wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • sugar12bean
    I have been raising my granddaughter since the day she was born , plus i have a teenage son also . I have been a single parent for a long time now and things are really starting to get to me , always here in the house with the kidsMore , the youngest is in school and the teenager is home school. So i don't really have any time for myself . As for my daughter the mother of my granddaughter that i am raising i am not sure if i should try to let her be a part of her life because i have tried and she just turns around and leaves again , I just feel like i am stuck until they are done with school and on their own , but by then it may be to late for me to have a life . Thank you for listening to me
    • Val
      i understand what your going through. Sorry it is so exhausting.
  • Mimi in distressed

    Mimi just trying to help

    I have a daughter that lost her home and moved in with her boyfriend. She has 3 children - 19, 16 and 10. The 19 yr old came to live with me but could not handle the "rules" I had at my home. So she left mad and stayed with her other grandparents but that only lasted a few months too because of the rules they had. She now lives with her moms best friend. My daughter lives 1 her from the current school district the older g-son has attended since kindergarten. The parents asked if could stay with me so he can finish his last three yrs. I agreed. In August last year the father of the 16 yr old dropped him at my front door didn't bother coming in just let him bring his things and of course I welcomed him. Things were going well with the g-son and relationship. We laughed, talked about sports and school and girls. Then in October he started seeing another girl. They have known each other since 1st grade. Now they started a relationship. But the creepy thing is the mother of the gf was involved more than I've ever seen. Was always with them. The two of them weren't building the relationship, it was the 3 of them. Now he calls the mom "awesome Heidi". It's now March and my grandson is secret about everything has even told the gf mom to stop texting me. Which she did even though she was asked by his parents to stop texting him. I tell you I smell something rotten. When the gf mom and I did speak she was always telling me that she told her daughter to kiss him to hold his hand and be more affectionate. I even overheard a conversation with the mom and g-son about he wanting to go with her when she got a wax job!! I've told the parents my concern. My daughter is concerned and the dad sees nothing wrong. Now I've been pushed a side by the g-son and get no financial help from the father and only a few dollars here and there from my daughter. I'm starting to get to the point that I don't care. Oh did I mention I sold my home and moved to his ISD so he was guaranteed a place at the school?? He is an amazing athlete and the school initially granted him a hardship transfer but only for one year. Only my daughter realizes how I've turned my life upside down. The g-son (realize he is 16) has no clue nor care. What help or advice can you give me?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Mimi in distressed

      I can hear how distressed you are concerning the possible

      inappropriate nature of your grandson’s relationship with his girlfriend’s

      mother. From what you have written, you’ve shared these concerns with his

      parents. At this point, that may be the most you can do. I would continue to

      keep on eye on their interactions, and

      continue to keep his parents in the loop about any possible red flags.

      Something to keep in mind – most teens aren’t in a place developmentally where

      they are able to express gratitude or appreciation for the things others

      provide for them, as Janet Lehman explains in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/a-message-from-janet-lehman-does-parenting-feel-like-a-thankless-job-then-read-this/ With that said, if the current arrangement is starting to cause you

      any undue hardship, it would be OK to set limits around the types of support

      you’re willing to continue providing for your grandson. We appreciate you

      writing in and wish you all the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • Fed Up with Grandkids

    My husband and I have been married only three years. Eight weeks after our marriage he chose to take on three mentally and emotionally challenged grandkids. Our lives have been everything but peaceful since we have had custody of his grandkids. We got custody because of neglect and abuse from my stepson and their mother.

    Well I have had enough I decided I will no longer do this. The children are on all types of psych meds they steal lie threaten suicide and homicide. They are now 8, 9, and 10.

    Some may see me as selfish, however I really don't care at this point. I want to be free to enjoy my life at this point. I did not wait all these years to remarry to deal with this.

    Grandparents are not responsible for the decisions made by their adult children. I am 56 and my husband is 58. I am in the process of either giving them to their parents or the system.

    Raising dysfunctional children at my age is not an option for me. I am telling my story to encourage those who feel guilty about not wanting to do this.

    I have no guilt and I am looking forward to enjoying my later years.

    • Grandmaodie

      Hello my situation is similar if you could email me i would really like to talk. mindysue1966@gmail.com

      Thanks

  • Sad Grandma

    I have two children that passed away -  my daughter passed away when her son was 16 years.   I supported him but then his girlfriend had both her parents pass as well.   So I took her in as well.   They are in their mid 20s.   and it is never enough.     They now have a child of their own.      I am supporting them - they call it helping.    No rent, no help, nothing.     They both have tempers and it is always my fault - one way or another.      They say I helped others so why not them.       They threaten to keep my great-granddaughter away from me.        I have had enough but I still worry about their future.  So today I did the tough love - after a screaming match (them),  told them they have to leave.       I have to be strong but I worry...they think they know it all but they really don.t    So thanks for letting me vent.

    Sad Grandma

  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

    @RMA

    What a tough situation. I can only imagine how exhausting it

    has been for them to deal with such challenging behaviors. I’m sorry that your

    nephew’s behavior caused so much stress for your mom that she ended up in the

    hospital. It’s no wonder you are worried about might happen when she comes

    home. Because we are a website aimed at helping people who are in a direct

    parenting role develop more effective ways of responding to acting out

    behaviors, we are limited in the coaching or advice we are able to offer you in

    this situation. I can hear how much you want to help your mother and father. It

    may be helpful to find out what types of resources and supports are available

    in your community. The 211 Helpline is a national referral service that can put

    people in touch with needed services, such as respite care, group housing for

    adults with special needs, as well as other community services. You can reach

    the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also find them

    online at http://www.211.org/. We appreciate you writing

    in and wish you and your family the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  • nanna49
    Hello. I am a grandmother of a set of four yr old fraternal twins b/g who are in upk preschool. Their mother my dd and their dad  both have mild retardation. They were assisted with taking birth control when they dated but secretly decided not to comply. But at thisMore point has turned over custody to me voluntarily  with the ergeing of cps as well. My daughter admits this is much more than she can handel alone but loves them very much and wants the best for them. The dad not so cooperative. My dd and I live together with the twins and her step father and I have separated, the situation put stress on the marriage so we decded to separate. I do have legal custody of my grands. Even though there's been a lot of stress over these few yrs I would give my soul for these two kids. The most recent struggles over this past yr are due to my ever growing health issues. I've been hospitalized four times this yr. Our dear friends have been so kind to stay at my house and care for the kids during these times. But I can see this is taking a toll on them as well. My family has brought to my attention several times that they feel that my health is declining because of my stress level over these past four years and has pointed out that in their option I may not be physically able to care for my grands at any given time in the future and has stressed that they cannot help me w/this situation and that I should place the kids into foster care as the best solution. Listen I admit that I am under a lot of stress w/ my daughter her mental health issues, boy friend issues and my own marital status. Yes I struggle w/ keeping us all afloat but Im determined to give my grand kids all the love I gave their mom and still give her as well. I don't have enough financial support to pay for outside assistance w/ my grands. My question is do u/ think I'm making the right choice for my grands by raising them or do u think the family is right and I should find some one younger and more financially fit to raise them. I just want what's best for my grands.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      nanna49

      What a tough position to be in. I can hear how much you want

      to do right by your grandchildren. From what you have written, it sounds like

      you have a lot on your plate right now – from your own health issues, trying to

      deal with your daughter and her mental health issues, as well as your recent

      marital separation. Even still, you have stepped up and given your

      grandchildren the best care you can.  That’s commendable and something you

      should take great pride in. Whether or not you continue to provide this care or

      place your grandchildren in foster care really is a decision only you can make.

      I know it’s not an easy one. It sounds like you believe outside support may be

      useful for you and your family but aren’t in a position to pay someone to come

      in and help. Have you looked into other possible supports in your area? The 211

      Helpline would be able to offer you information on services such as kinship

      care support, respite care, and other outreach programs. You can reach the

      Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also find them

      online at http://www.211.org/. You might also find useful

      information on support for you and your grandchildren at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts-sheets/.  Your grandchildren

      are very lucky to have you in their lives. I hope you will continue to check in

      to let us know how things are going. Take care.

      • nanna49
        DeniseR_ParentalSupport nanna49 Thank you.
  • memom
    I am a grandmother raising my 12 year old grand daughter and 5 year old son. I have had them since birth...my daughter hangs around about a month or two and then leaves after their births...she is running on a warrant and continues to use drugs and prostitute for money...sheMore wants to come and see the kids when it is for her needs...to make herself feel better...she calls herself mommy and it drives me crazy...there are no more tears...I just want what is best for my kids...my granddaughter has made the choice to have no contact with her...she has had enough..My grandson is 5...he just don't understand the whole picture...My question is..I am thinking about cutting her off completely from seeing him at all...there has been alot happen...to much to go into...but my heart tells me this would be the right thing...looking for guidance.
    • yvon

      Memom,

      How are you legally able to cut her out? I'm facing the same situations and it is heartbreaking

    • Darlene EP

      memom 

      It is understandable that you

      are concerned about how this is affecting your grandchildren. I think most

      anyone in your situation would be feeling the same way. They are so lucky to

      have you caring for them and watching out for them. I am unable to say whether

      or not it is the best choice to cut off contact with their mother. That is a

      personal choice on your part. It sounds like you have good instincts and want

      what is best for your grandchildren, so make your decision based on that. I

      would also make sure you know what you are legally able to do. The 211 Helpline

      would be able to give you information on legal services in your area. You can

      reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222. You can also find

      them online at 211.org. I wish you the best with this. Please check back in and

      let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • ParanoidMaybe

    So, I'm a single parent of a 2 year old and 4 year old. My parents watch my kids at night during my work week which can be anywhere from 3 to 5 nights a week 11pm to 7am. My mother recently offered to keep my kids in the morning until noon so I can rest. I don't drop them off at night until bed time, so there's roughly 8-9 hours where my parents would not have my children during the days I do work. I have offered to pay for their water bill, and buy food, diapers, etc. for my children so it's not putting my parents out too much having them there, to which my parents declined and my mother insists on purchasing diapers and wipes for my 2 year old and my 1 year old nephew, even though I supply them for my child anyway.

    So, here's the issue. My father and I share a cell phone plan. He pays $70/mo for his phone to me. And I pay the bill. I've never missed a payment. This month, being the first month they've been watching my kids, he has not paid me for the bill. I don't know if they talked and decided to keep that money because of the financial toll of taking care of my kids (which is actually fine with me), or if he's just forgotten. I'm afraid to ask because I don't want to start an issue between myself and my parents as I do not have another option for day care, and cannot afford a live in nanny. Am I reading too much into this?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @ParanoidMaybe 

      Thank you for writing in with your question. 

      Discussions about money can be tricky because finances can be a hot button

      issue for many people.  Because we are a site that is focused on parents

      and their relationship with their children, I am a bit limited in the advice

      that I can provide you in this situation with your father.  In general, we

      advise that open, honest communication and clear boundaries are typically the

      most effective way to avoid any potential conflict, or to resolve one which has

      already happened.  I hope this has been helpful for you and your

      situation; take care.

  • Brenda
    We have custody of our grandchild who is 6 and ours is the only home he has ever known.  He sees his mother a couple days per month but calls us his parents.  Very recently he has been questioning why he doesn't live with her.  I have no idea whatMore to say.  She simply dropped him on our doorstep, did not bond and is completely selfish and mean.   He is a great boy, well-behaved, loving and very bright.  So far I have just reassured him that we are a family, love him and tell him that not all children live with their mommy.  That is no longer sufficient for him.  He says he wants to know exactly why.   (He does not see her as a mother figure but her name is mommy).   I would greatly appreciate advice on this.
    • LaurieBell1
      @Brenda  We found the best way for our granddaughter to move through the emotions of abandonment was to be honest with her from the beginning.  We always let her know there was no fault in her and that it was a blessing that she came to live with us.  EvenMore at a young age, children understand more than we may think.  Honesty is the best policy so the child feels that he has someone who he can really trust
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Brenda

      What a difficult position to be in. It’s not unusual for

      children to question things that may be a bit beyond their ability to fully

      grasp, such as the questions your grandson is asking about not living with his

      mom. Ultimately, you’re going to know your grandson better than anyone and

      would be in the best position for determining how much information he would be

      able to make sense of concerning the current living arrangement. One thing to

      keep in mind is that you don’t have to go into any greater detail about the

      situation if you don’t feel he would be able to understand it even if he

      continues to ask. You can continue to respond with reassurances as you have

      been doing. We do have a helpful article that may give you more

      information on how to approach this issue: Helping a Child Cope with an Absent Parent. While this may not address your exact situation, there may be

      some suggestions that would be applicable to what you are experiencing. It may

      also be helpful to enlist the help of a child counselor. Quite a few parents

      and grandparents have found it helpful to have someone their child and family

      can work with directly. The 211 Helpline, a nationwide referral service, would

      be able to give you information on counseling services in your area. You can

      reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by going to

      their website at http://www.211.org/. I hope this

      information is helpful. Your grandson is very lucky to have you in his life.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions. Take care.

  • Confused
    My daughter in law has been very abusive mentally and physically to my son for the past 2 years.  He has been living with me off and on for the last 2 years.  He has a drinking problem and she has been having online affairs. Things got very heated atMore one point and she hit me in the face. I bruises and marks from her rings and threatened me with a lethal weapon.  No charges were made they have a 9 year old son.  She has left to return home to her family in another state.  She has convinced my grandson that this is not true and that i attacked her.  I am not going to force myself on him.  I still plan on sending him gifts.  What should i do and how should i handle this situation?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Confused

      What a stressful situation this must be for you. It can be

      tough when our children pick spouses who are abusive, especially when

      grandchildren are put in the middle. From what you have written, it sounds like

      you are wanting to continue a relationship with your grandson, even though the

      connection you have with your daughter in law is quite strained  and he

      has moved to another state with her. It probably isn’t going to be beneficial

      to continue trying to make him see your perspective.  Generally speaking,

      a child is inclined to agree with their parent.  At 9, he isalso not really of an age where he’s able to

      understand there’s usually more than one side to every story. It would probably

      be more effective to keep focusing on establishing a relationship with him,

      whatever that may be. Good luck to you and your family moving forward. Take

      care.

  • disgruntled grandma

    OMG where do I start...I am currently living with my daughter and 4 grandkids. My daughter and hubby finally split after she could no longer take the verbal abuse,emotional abuse, financial abuse and disrespect, lack of help with discipline, so so forth...I moved in to help financially and with the kids. I have always been a big part of their lives and been a caretaker when needed. The children have always had to abide by my rules when with me and in my home and they did know grandma just doesn't play those games ...now we are in a much different scenario.

    Their father who is constantly bad talking me and their mother calling up swear words bad name cutting us down daily to these kids moved out but only across the courtyard so the kids are over there everyday anyway...in some respects good they get to see their dad however most of it is not good. the kids are interrogated daily as to what I have said or done. They are no longer allowed to be home with me when their mother is not here per their fathers rule as he does not like the way I discipline. he has instructed them that that do not need to listen to me or do anything that I tell them which has made already unruly children WORSE.

    I am 55 and single...I do not take well to being told by a 7,8,12 or the 16 yr old who by the way is not his child but now again living with us...that they are not going to do something they are being told to do,  that they don't have to or No I am not going to do that...etc you get the picture this is not once and awhile it is at ever yturn of the day. I have recently had a huge blowup with the now 12 yr old to be 13 tomorrow who promptly went and told her dad who called the police. I had told them to go to their fathers as the mother was leaving and after they had waited hours for him to get their then refused to go...I screamed to get out!! and yes you do have to go

    AGAIN they are not to be home with me when she is not and rightly so I do not want to be a built in babysitter and if they cannot listen and be respectful they cannot stay home with me period. they tore up my leather couch on purpose ripping the leather this time and is now un-repairable. they had been told repeatedly not to jump on do sommersaults on etc. I believe it was intentional. their mother had had it with them for the day she had told them to go there and not come back but of course the info relayed to addy was I kicked them out...I did not I never said that their mother did.

    now to the current dilemma

    the kids have not been home but only to sleep since and it has been about 4 days...I am still very angry about the whole situation...he told his 13 yr old he is going to come into the house while mom and I are gone to remove a ceiling fan (in my room) as well as a pair of curtains...I told her if you let him in to do that I will have him arrested. ok getting off track here again...I try not to say anything about their dad but if doesn't always go that way...I am only human I am paying most of the bills here and yes I took that on trying to help...maybe I am wrong and really not helping at all. My daughter does work but does not make enough money for everything he has been giving her a check each month but It is always held over her head and we never know if he will give it to her or not it is not through the court which is a whole other story. I have taken on a lot...I feel I deserve some respect I realize that the behavior is already set by the ages that they are we are at our ropes end we have TTP but after one day of trying and it blowing up in our faces that didn't fly either again im babbling

    back to the dilemma it is her birthday the 12 yr old tomorrow...I do not feel like getting her anything we have not talked since this blow up...so what now I am supposed to get a gift for this ungrateful rude disrespectful child???? isn't that or wouldn't that be rewarding bad behavior? pleas help I know she would be hurt if I don't do anything...talking about all this with them does no good at all....yes I love them and would do anything...look what I have done but this is ridiculous and I really feel torn about even getting a gift please help thanks In advance

    Disgruntled grandma

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      disgruntled grandma 

      We speak with many parents and grandparents who ask about buying gifts

      for kids who are acting out, and wonder if that is rewarding the poor behavior,

      so you are not alone.  From our perspective, we do not typically recommend

      using special events and celebrations such as birthdays as consequences, mainly

      because once they are gone, they cannot be earned back.  We also find that

      using this type of event as a consequence tends to create more resentment within

      the relationship rather than remorse for one’s actions.  As Megan Devine

      explains in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/authoritative-parenting-consequences.php, a more effective way to

      address your 12 year old granddaughter’s behavior would be to find a

      consequence or incentive that you can apply consistently to hold her

      accountable for her behavior. It does sound like there is a lot

      going on right now with you and your family, and I appreciate your writing in

      for advice.  As a customer of the Total Transformation program, you also

      have access to the specialists on the 1-on-1 Coaching line.  If you are

      not currently subscribing, I’m happy to extend a one-time courtesy call so you

      can contact the coaches, and get their help in applying the program tools to

      your current situation.  You can find the contact information in your

      program materials.  Thank you for writing in, and I wish you all the best

      as you continue to move forward.  Take care.

  • HEIDI
    Help help!! My husband and I are having to raise are 4 year grandson, Because are son got in with the wrong people, and now he is in prison, and his mom is on drugs. I'm 39 and my husband is 44, we are still raising young ones of areMore own, 2 daughters 8 and 12 year's old, it is so hard, are grandson is so out of control, he's constantly hitting the girls throwing things at them just out of the blue nowhere,they'll be watching TV and he'll just go right up to them and slap them in the face or throw something at them, he has broken almost everything I own, we will put him in timeout, but there's times where we have to spank him, but then my husband and I are like is that what we're supposed to do ,when he does do wrong, I will hold him and love him,my daughter gets so upset and says I'm always taking his side, I tell her no I'm not, I tell her that we have to let him know that this is his home and that we love him, and that there's no need to be angry, we will explain it to her ,how would she like it if we did not want her,because that's what her nephew is going through. that we are all he has, I guess what I'm trying to say is that my whole family has been corrupted, my 8 year old daughter is very jealous, and my grandson is very out of control, we have no insurance at the time, but its obvious we need counseling. because I am absolutely going nuts, and my husband.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @HEIDI 

      It sounds like

      there is a lot going on in your household right now, and I appreciate your

      writing in to us for support.  Much of what you describe is not uncommon

      given your current situation, as kids tend to do well with structure and

      routine, and can have limited coping skills when that stability is

      altered.  That is not to say, however, that what is going on is OK, or that

      you cannot address it.  With your grandson’s aggressive and destructive

      behavior, it’s important to have clear, consistent rules and consequences in

      place to address it, as described in our article http://www.empoweringparents.com/How-to-Stop-Aggressive-Behavior-in-Young-Children.php. 

      I want to point out that we do not recommend spanking as a way to address

      misbehavior, simply because it is not teaching your grandson how to handle

      things differently the next time, and can possibly have the effect of

      reinforcing aggressive behavior.  It’s also normal for your 8 year old to

      be frustrated and jealous with all the changes in your household.  Most 8

      year olds do not have a well-developed sense of empathy, and so it is normal

      for her to focus more on how all of this is affecting her and the routine she

      is used to.  Something that can be helpful is to talk with her about how

      she can “help” your grandson, and also how she can take care of herself when

      she is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.  James Lehman gives more advice

      on this topic in his article http://www.empoweringparents.com/Abusive-Sibling-Rivalry-Families-Children-Teen-Behavior-Problems.php.  Finally, I

      agree that it could be useful to work with local resources to help you and your

      family through this turbulent time.  You might try contacting the 211

      Helpline for assistance.  211 is a service which connects people with

      resources in their community, many of which are free, low cost or available on

      a sliding scale.  You can reach this service via their website at 211.org

      or by calling 1-800-273-6222.  I recognize that this is a challenging time

      for your family, and I wish you all the best as you continue to move

      forward.  Take care.

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