Total Pageviews

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Custodial Grandparent rising exponentially

I had reason to be in Juvenile Court last week, with a friend (everything is fine in our home), she was there responding to a visitation request.  CPS (could be called something different in your state) took her grandson, (who is a biological cousin to my two grandgirls)-actually the friend is their other grandma, who fortunately lives just down the street from us, so my girls get to grow up with both grandma's instead of both parents and they get to grow up with their cousin as well) Anyway.....the idiot dad of the cousin just got out of prison and filed for visitation. Whatever.

My point, which I started out to make, was that while I was sitting in the waiting area by the Court Clerks office, NO FEWER THAN THREE ELDERLY COUPLES WALKED IN AFTER THEIR APPEARANCE IN COURT TO OBTAIN CUSTODY OF THEIR GRANDCHILD/REN!  In a one hour period, three more grands got custody of their grandkids, in a SMALL county, in a SMALL court, in a SMALL part of Ohio. Wow. Just Wow.

I asked the clerk, sort of on the sly, if this was an unusual day for that. She replied, that grandparent custody is about HALF their cases now, at least, if not more than half. All from heroin.  Most of the parents are just signing the babies/kids away to the grandparents. They don't even fight to keep them.

A friend walked in, someone who has been working in the court system for years, and whom I know well. She said she and the Judge were talking the other day, and he asked a good question. "What is going to happen when THESE children have children and screw up, because THEY won't have grandparents to step in as the parents who are releasing their kids today would be the grandparents of tomorrow.

I looked her right in the eye and said, "Mary Beth? Don't worry. You and the Judge are assuming something. You are assuming that ultimately, it was the fault of the parent that the child became and addict, and therefore, the grandchildren who are being raised by the grandparent will turn out screwed up too, since the same person is raising them. Don't make that mistake.  Firstly, it WAS NOT our/my fault my daughter became a junkie, or ALL of my kids would be one (she is very familiar with my family), secondly, I am going out of my way to insure that everything possible that could be done, is being done. Our grandkids are gonna be just fine. We learned alot about heroin addiction. We have learned alot about over compensating for our children. We have learned how NOT to enable victimology and the addict behaviors. We have learned that the addiction gene is present in our grandchildren.  We have learned how NOT to step in and SAVE them from every little thing that happens in their lives. We have learned to step back, and let the child experience the consequences of their actions, from kindergarten on up.  We didn't do that with the addicts. We bailed them out of every little situation, and made excuses like "well her grades are SO GOOD, that we can fix this little problem so it doesn't interfere with her college prospects..." things like that.

We will NOT do that for the grandchildren. They will learn how to cope with life. They will learn how to fail, get back up, and turn failure into success. Because, ultimately, these heroin addicts are a societal thing that happened to a certain generation. The generation WE created. We, as parents, just started enabling and making excuses for these kids right out of the womb, because that is what the experts TOLD us to do. Warm fuzzies, Cold pricklies, protect the kid, make sure they get on the softball team even if they can't catch a ball to save their lives. We told them how great they were even when they weren't. We made sure their little self esteem was SO HIGH that they went into the big bad world thinking that everything would just fall right into their laps. Then, when it didn't, because reality just doesn't work that way, they crawled into a needle, bottle, whatever, and retreated from reality.

She just looked at me. She is raising a child, who well, is challenging, and honestly, she and her partner (she happens to be lesbian) are treating their child with the exact same philosophy that we all did. That he is precious and needs to be sheltered from everything. I hope she understood.

We did it because we loved our kids and wanted to spare them from the ugliness of reality. We didn't do them any favors at all.

I call our Junkies, the LOST GENERATION. As a societal phenomenon, we did fail as parents. We failed to prepare our children for what is really out there. It is so very different than the world WE grew up in. But, to shield them and help them to the extent we did, set them up to fail at life. Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread....and we were fools. We believed Dr. Spock, and we listened to the 'politically correct' crowd. We worried more about our children having friends than we did about grades. We worried more about them having good self esteem than about their problem solving skills.

But, we are NOT stupid. We have seen what happened, and some of us figured it out. We realized that the very adversity WE faced growing up was what gave us the character to stay steadfast on our life course. Most of MY generation experimented with drugs. And yet, when we became parents, we just stopped. We didn't become addicts. Because we had the interior resolve and character to return to our roots and hold on.  Oh sure, some of us did, no doubt. There are so many things that play into becoming an addict.

But rest assured, character building will not be one of them for the next generation. We are not harsh with the grandbabies. We are firm, loving and have consequences for behaviors that are clear and reasonable. We don't back down. We stand our ground. We listen through all the wailing, through all the "you are ruining my life", through the "you just HAVE to let me go, I already made plans..." and we still say "sorry, this is the consequence, you have to live through it. Learn from it and don't do it again." We say, "well, I'm sorry this teacher hates you, but you still have to get at least a B out of her class. Figure out how to do it or stay grounded the entire semester." We don't TELL them how. We don't rush down to the school and pull them out of that class. We don't confront the teacher for being mean to our little precious girl. We let the kid handle it, we alert the principal, we take all precautions, and let the kid figure out how to handle a teacher. We watch....but we do not rescue.

Will this work? God above, I certainly hope so!!

My oldest grand walked by and saw I was on her FB. She said Meemaw, WHAT are you doing. I said reading all your messages.

She said WHAT? you are stalking me!!  I said No, I'm not. This is called PARENTING. She said YOU ARE INVADING MY PRIVACY. I said, No, YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY PRIVACY.   I will read your fb, your texts, I will check your tablet and your laptop every night to see where you have been on the internet. I will listen to your voicemails. There is NO expectation of privacy in this house. YOU are a child. I am the parent. I do not expect you to know what is safe and what it not, so I will be checking. Get over it. I also have a tracker on your cell phone so I can see where you have been.

I will use the tools available to me. I am smart enough with technology to do that. There will be NO hidden dirty little secrets this time around. And, there will be clear rules and expectations. From the beginning. This is no longer a democratic house. THIS is a dictatorship. And I am the dictator.




  1. Thanks for posting this. I recognize so much mistakes I made with my opiate addicted son. AndI even partially realized it at the time. My other kid is doing fine. I am teaching child development at high school nearby, I am certainly going to incorporate some of the consequences for behavior lessons I have learned. You have said it really well.

  2. I have a daughter who has put us thru hell. I am an older mom now 57 she 18 going on 13...I applaud your statement! I totally relate about the aging thing. My daughters father ultimately died of his addiction to prescriptions and street drugs. Struggled to stay clean and sober for many years... She has all the hallmarks of addiction. I myself have been clean and sober since 89.she has never seen me.You go girl and stand up for the you get no Privacy..I loved that. Tried and lost in my home. she just got more sneaky...:( Keep it up.

  3. I really needed to read this today...thanks for sharing Dawn.

  4. My addict son came to visit his 11 month old son today. He couldn't keep his eyes open long enough to to play with him more than an hour. Had to put a quick stop to that. I pray that you are right. I hope that can make a difference for my grandson.

  5. @tiko, I intend to stick to my guns lol. Thanks!

  6. @madyson....only another parent knows. (((Hugs))))

  7. @Terri, you will make a huge difference. Can you imagine your son watching a busy 11 month old and nodding off? You will make a very big difference.

  8. Dawn,

    It has gotten so bad here in KC a developer has built an apartment complex for ONLY grandparents raising grandkids. They advertise areas for kids to play and "escape" areas for the grandparents.

  9. Oh my - you had me until you mentioned Facebook. Isn't the oldest one twelve? I don't know how I would feel about my twelve year old having a social networking presence on the internet at all.... In any case, I remember when AOL first came out, I had access on my parents internet account, but it was not cool that my step mom continually violated my trust and privacy by reading my personal messages and searching my private space. It made me resent her, and I would NEVER bring my issues directly to her unprompted. Just an FYI - sometimes there is a difference between a benevolent dictator and a cruel dictator and it can be a very fine line to walk.

  10. @Sydney. I said I READ her fb. Didn't say I REACTED to them, or even bring them up. I just told her, you are 12. You are not old enough to have an unrestricted use of internet. So our agreement as if she got fb and texting, I would have unrestricted access to them. Very boring actually lol. Alot of 'hey was suppp' and not much else. I guess its really more of a monitoring situation. And fortunately, me and pint still actually talk face to face. I'm flexible though. I know at some point I will have to trust her, and i will, but I have explained that trust is not automaticallyngiven in this house gratis. Now, out have to start out and earn trust before you get it. Not fair, just is.

  11. Great post Dawn. There are times I fall into the same trap with my grandkids ... I try to make it easier on them because they've been through so much. Then I have to remind myself, I'm not here to coddle, I'm here to correct.

    Our local Mental Health Facility has recently started a group for "Kinship Caregivers". I can't believe the number of people attending, and coming from miles and miles away. While it may not relieve my exhaustion, it's great to be able to meet with people in the same situation.

    I admire you greatly. And love you're ability to cut to the chase. You're posts are an incouragement in an otherwise overwhelming day.

    God Bless