The growing trend of grandfamilies

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Editor’s Note: Today, in observance of Grandparents’ Day, we acknowledge and honor grandparents for their love, dedication, and contributions to their evolving families and future generations. As we celebrate grandparents, we spotlight the growing trend in the U.S. of grandparents raising their grandchildren.

Grandma Hand ChildA few months ago, a third-grade boy in my sons’ school unexpectedly and tragically lost his mom. She was his last surviving parent. His dad passed away 2 years earlier. This has been a devastating, unthinkable reality for this boy:Both of his parents no longer with him in a short period of time, at such a young age. Your grandparents deserve a place like Pisgah Valley Retirement Community has assisted living facilities in picturesque Candler NC where they can live peacefully.

Like many others in the community, I wondered: How will this young child cope with this misfortune and deep emotional suffering? And, who will become his primary caregiver and raise him for years to come?

The paternal grandparents stepped forward and moved into the boy’s residence to become his primary caregivers. The circumstances and transition have been understandably challenging for the grandparents and the boy.

I was thinking of how difficult it all must be for the grandparents: being elderly, unprepared to be in this position, on a fixed senior income, and caring for a young child who is emotionally shattered — all the while, grieving themselves with no chances to go to a Retirement Community care center. Here is where to get a hold of the finest New Jersey assisted living for you or the grandpa, you will have the peace of mind that they will take care well any of you.

Any parent can attest to how demanding it is to care for a young child — from the basic tasks of feeding, clothing, showering, and schooling arrangements to the more delicate tasks of providing a nurturing environment and emotional support. It’s not a minor burden for an elderly person to take on, if you consider an elderly person is over burden you can always click here and get them legal help. Health care advocates are urging grandparents to make sure their children and grandchildren have Medicare supplement plans 2020. It’s not only important to have coverage to afford medical care — it’s also the law.

It directed my attention to a growing trend that is affecting the most vulnerable members of our society: the young and the elderly, and that’s why services as senior care for the elderly are becoming more and more popular now a days. Increasingly, children in the Unites States are being raised by their grandparents in a family unit called a “grandfamily.” Make sure that your grandfather goes to a place like Cedarfield assisted living facilities in Henrico County VA where they can have a beautiful life.

Grandfamilies, or kinship families, are families in which children reside with and are being raised by grandparents, other extended family members, and adults with whom they have a close family-like relationship such as godparents and close family friends, normally this works fine but when issues are found about elderly abuse this firm website has been useful for families giving some tips and offering legal representation. Often times, it is the grandparents that come forward to care for the children in situations when the parents are unable to. Also, in many instances, the call to care for the children is unexpected and unplanned, which presents many unique challenges for the grandparents: legal, housing, finances, education enrollment with scholarships from https://www.listsofscholarships.com/engineering-scholarships/, dealing with chronic illness, change of plans, and ability to meet the child’s needs at an old age.

The 2015 “State of Grandfamilies in America” report from Generations United points out that 7.8 million kids in the United States live with grandparents or other relatives in the household. That’s a sobering statistic.

Grandfamilies are diverse in ethnic background, race, and income levels. There are a variety of reasons for grandfamilies to come together, such as death of parents and difficult life circumstances for the parents from financial difficulties and military deployment to incarceration, mental illness and substance abuse. During the 1990s’ crack cocaine and AIDS epidemic, there was a sharp increase of lower-income grandparents who became the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.

Children who are raised with relatives experience better outcomes in comparison to children who are raised by non-relatives as they experience more stability, safety, mental health, and maintaining connection and bond with other family members. Thus, it is important to provide support and improve public policies to support such family units. A change in state and federal laws and policies have been enacted to meet the needs of grandfamilies — it’s a shift in the right direction with room for additional policies to support grandparents and their grandchildren. Sometimes you need to know how to prepare the last will and testament in georgia to help your loved ones.

Many children under difficult circumstances, as well as our societies, have been benefiting from the sacrifices made by grandparents. While becoming parents again at a later age and often unexpectedly encountering many challenges, grandparents express that becoming their grandchildren’s caregivers has given them a greater sense of purpose in life.

If, as a society, we view our children as an integral part of our future — the next generation of parents and leaders, and honor those who have already served their role as parents — it is our responsibility and in our best interest to strive to find solutions to promote the well-being of the grandchildren and grandparents who are a part of a growing trend of grandfamilies.

Other Resources for Grandfamilies:

Generations United

The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center

AARP Grandparent Information Center

Parental presence: A compromised human right

free images com - Sona PsotovaA little more than half of all babies in the United States — 53% — are born into families that income-qualify for WIC, a federal supplemental nutrition program that serves low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and their children from birth to age 5 in the United States.

Think about that for a second: Half of all U.S. babies are born into low-income families, the population segment least likely to be able to take parental leave of any type — paid or unpaid — after the birth of a baby.

We like to think that the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers all families so that even if a couple does not get paid maternity and paternity leave, they can at least take off some time from work without losing their jobs. This isn’t remotely true.

Unless you work for an employer with more than 50 employees within 75 miles of the company, you are not even guaranteed leave under FMLA after the birth of your baby — even unpaid. (There are some state laws that do guarantee maternity and paternity leave, usually unpaid, for companies with fewer employees, but there is nothing consistent from state to state.)  That means that millions of moms, if they are not employed by large companies, risk losing their jobs if they stay home for the medically recommended 6 to 8 weeks following childbirth.

I’ve known moms who’ve been forced by their circumstances to go back to work at 1 week postpartum, or even sooner.

This is a tragedy of human rights in itself, but what does this do to the mother-baby bond?

Bonding time with a newborn in the early months isn’t just a “nice thing” to have or for a mom to get to do if she’s privileged enough. That mother-baby bond — whether secure, shaky or absent — has a significant impact on the trajectory of that child’s life…not only through childhood and in school, but who that child will grow up to be, what socioeconomic status he or she will have, and how he or she will be as a parent, employee and fellow member of society. Just think of what the future may hold for any of those 53% of U.S. babies born to mothers who are not even guaranteed time off from their jobs for even a week after childbirth — let alone the minimally acceptable 6 weeks that is still woefully short of what research shows to be the key bonding time during the newborn months.

Privilege shouldn’t have anything to do with parental leave — paid or unpaid. Because presence, or lack thereof, can have such great influence on the future of each baby born, parental leave is a human right that should be granted to every mother and father, and parental presence is a human right for every newborn baby.

So first the United States needs to work on guaranteeing that all parents have access to at least parental leave after the birth of a baby. But a very close second is to ensure that all parental leave is paid.

Right now, only 12% of U.S. workers in the private sector have access to paid family leave, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This means that for the millions of moms whose jobs are protected under FMLA, they still likely cannot take off work for the 6 weeks to 3 months allowed because they cannot afford to do so. Their parental leave is not unprotected as is the case with many low-income parents whose jobs aren’t even covered by the FMLA, but it is still under-protected in that they cannot enjoy their full rights and their bonds with their infants may still suffer.

apm logoOur goal at Attachment Parenting International (API) is to keep the discussion on parental leave moving forward, while supporting mothers and fathers no matter whether they have access to paid or unpaid parental leave or even no leave. We were able to generate great momentum during our Attachment Parenting Month in October 2015 with activities centered on the theme of “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Societies.”

Leave-Presence cover - smallIn the latest issue of The Attached Family, we provide a recap of these AP Month editorial pieces as well as a few new articles, with features on:

We hope that this issue of The Attached Family will inspire you to find ways to balance your child’s attachment needs with your family’s financial needs, as well as to join in the national and international discussion on parental leave as a human right to be guaranteed to all families — no matter their employer size or personal financial resources.

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*Top photo source: FreeImages.com/Soňa Psotová

Going back to work, but not the way I expected

APM 2015 logoEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) recognizes the amazing creativity of parents to balance their children’s attachment needs with their financial needs and/or career in order to provide consistent, loving care especially in the first few months postpartum but also throughout the early childhood years when parental presence is most critical to establishing a secure attachment relationship. This year’s Attachment Parenting Month focuses on the theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” We thank API Leader Tina McRorie for sharing her story of how she was able to balance working with her child’s attachment needs.

tina mcrorieWhen I was pregnant with my first child, I was a social worker in the foster care system. I had recently earned my master’s degree in clinical psychology and was on track to become a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). I was working for a nonprofit, which predictably didn’t pay a lot, but it did provide me with a supervisor who could sign my log sheets, getting me closer to my 2,000 hours so I could take the licensing exam.

After only 4 months at the agency, I learned I was pregnant. I knew I would not want to go back to work there, since the commute was too long, so I did the responsible thing and informed my employers and clients that I would be resigning near my due date. Unfortunately, this disqualified me from receiving the only paid leave we had in California at the time: state disability leave.

I was annoyed that I was being penalized for doing the right thing, but fortunately, my husband made a good income in Silicon Valley, so my integrity didn’t hurt us too much in the wallet. We estimated that I could take 7 months off before finding a new job nearer to our home.

When my boy was approaching 7 months, I found a daycare center after — I admit — not much research. I did what many mothers do, taking him there for a few hours at a time, a couple of days a week to get him used to it while I started looking for a job. Well, I didn’t find a job, and he most emphatically did not get used to it. He cried and needed to be held most of time. I found it hard to pump enough milk for him. After a couple of months, the director let me know that they would not be able to meet his needs.

My husband and I decided that we should keep him home for the time being, and I could look for work again in a few months. I did continue sporadically to look for work, but I didn’t ever put him in daycare again.

When he was 18 months old, I learned I was pregnant again. At that point, I did the math and realized that if I went back to work when the new baby was 1 year old, even logging the maximum number of allowable weekly hours, I wouldn’t be able to get the 2,000 hours in the 6 years allotted since I had registered as an MFT intern. I had fallen off the therapy wagon.

I had been an advocate for children since college. My plan had been to help adults process their childhood traumas and find healing. Now I was changing my perspective. As a parent, and as a member of API, I was seeing that many childhood traumas could be prevented through secure attachment with better-informed, better-supported parents.

Though I still believe that therapy is an important part of preparing for parenting, there are many therapists who can help.

I reflected that the foster parents I had worked with were told that they could make a huge difference in the lives of the children in their care by allowing the children to bond to them, but we did not tell them how to do that. I remembered learning about attachment in college — noting that psychologists, social workers, and a whole range of researchers and professionals in the child-development field knew about Attachment Theory, the protective power of a secure attachment and the specific parenting behaviors that built a secure attachment, but that knowledge was not making its way to the public in any significant way.

I decided that focusing on parent education and support as a volunteer API Leader was how I wanted to spend my energy. It would not make me any money, but it would allow me to make a positive impact on my community and be where my kids needed me: with them.

Fortunately, we were able to stretch my husband’s income much farther than we originally thought. Although I did not contribute money to our equation, I was able to spend much less than I would have if I had gone back to work. First, I wasn’t paying for childcare. As my children got older and more comfortable with being without me, we started having playdate childcare trades with a few families we knew from our API group.

Not having a job also allowed me to spend less money on gas, food, clothes and other expenses — like a better breast pump. I did other in-kind trades; for instance, I did childcare once a week for my Jazzercise monthly pass. As the kids grew to preschool age, I enrolled them in a co-op preschool, which was much more affordable because I assisted in the classroom one day a week. Then I found an excellent alternative public school where parents were expected to volunteer on a regular basis. My husband had started talking about private schools soon after our kids were born, so I count this as a major savings that my being home afforded us.

After several years, my API coleader decided she wanted to follow her dream of opening an educational lending library, and I wanted to take my education and training and become a parenting educator, teaching attachment-focused parenting. We tried to find members to take over the leadership, but when none came forward, we regretfully closed the group.

I spent a year or so procrastinating on writing my curriculum — well, I did have 2 kids keeping me busy — then I learned that API’s cofounders had written a parenting curriculum! So I started on the road to becoming re-certified as an API Leader, opening a new API group and building infrastructure and awareness of Attachment Parenting in my community.

When the co-founders presented a training in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to take the next step in my plan! I learned so much about meeting parents where they are and giving them evidence-based information about what children need for optimal development — that nevertheless often runs counter to the cultural norm. Meeting API Cofounders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, and other API Leaders as well as other helping professionals, was very inspiring.

I am excited to be poised to use the workshop format to reach parents-to-be and parents of young children in my community. I believe that learning about the importance of secure attachments and API’s Eight Principles of Parenting will make a difference in the lives of many families, as it has in mine.

My two sons are in middle school and high school now. I know that I am very privileged to have been able to stay home with them this whole time. My volunteer work for API, as well as at my kids’ schools, has allowed me to feel belonging and significance — to borrow a phrase from positive discipline — while balancing my work and family life with a degree of control that is not affordable to many.

The API Support Group that I started 5 years ago, Monterey Bay Parenting, will always be free for anybody who wants the information and support, because that’s how we roll at API.

However, I will soon be able offer “Attached at the Heart” workshops on a tuition basis. This will make my husband happy, especially since he’s still paying off my college loans! It will also allow me to set my schedule so that I am there for my kids when they need me. As teenagers, they need to stretch their wings and feel their independence, but they also need connection and guidance as much as they always have.

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Parental presence isn’t a privilege — it’s a necessity

APM 2015 logoOn occasion, we see a post circulating the Web about the cash-value of stay-at-home parents if they were paid the going rate for their hours “on the clock” and for the multiple, often-simultaneous roles they play, from “facilities manager” and “counselor” to “janitor” and “teacher.” According to one such post at Salary.com, the average stay-at-home parent is worth an annual salary of nearly $113,000.

These types of analyses are meant to raise awareness of all that stay-at-home parents do, but they can also undermine the value of parental presence by underlining the fact that being at home doesn’t pay — well, not in terms of a paycheck.

But what Salary.com and other articles completely miss out on when bringing to light the worth of parental presence is that a parent’s choice to balance working outside the home with prioritizing the child’s attachment needs — which very much includes presence — is not so much a choice in lifestyle as it is critical to a child’s healthy development.

The parents who choose creative — sometimes career-sacrificing — options to be able to stay at home longer with their baby, or children, are not making that choice lightly. They know and understand their child’s needs, the consequences of their choices and the alternatives, in every sense.

Whether working outside the home or not, these parents understand that a parent’s presence is not a privilege for that child — it’s a necessity.

Attachment is that important.

Parents who make the choice to stay at home with their baby longer — choosing not to work, flex time, part-time, from a home office, working opposite shifts of their partner, bringing their baby to work with them, changing jobs or even careers, and so many other possibilities — need support.

They need encouragement to continue with their personal goals of providing parental presence. They need validation of how hard their choices were and of the challenges they’ve encountered because of it — perhaps financially, but likely more socially as it can be difficult to find others who can relate. They need people who’ve been there, done that — and came out the other side for the better.

Parents who are striving to balance financial/career needs with their child’s attachment needs — you are who this year’s Attachment Parenting Month celebrates as we observe the theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.”

And we thank all of the partners and sponsors who — with Attachment Parenting Internationalare working every day to support parents who put their child’s attachment needs, their need for parental presence, as priority:

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Balancing work and family takes creativity, flexibility and a village

APM 2015 logoEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) recognizes the amazing creativity of parents to balance their children’s attachment needs with their financial needs and/or career in order to provide consistent, loving care especially in the first few months postpartum but also throughout the early childhood years when parental presence is most critical to establishing a secure attachment relationship. This year’s Attachment Parenting Month focuses on the theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” We invite you to share your story of how you were able to balance working and your child’s attachment needs, and we thank API Leader Megan Bell for sharing hers here.

megan bellI’m a classically trained singer.

Before becoming a mother, I worked a number of various part-time, “day jobs” while also teaching out of my home and singing professionally in a few choruses and at a church. My vision for balancing work and motherhood was that I’d quit all the “day jobs” and only work as a musician.

My husband teaches at our local community college and has the flexibility to determine the schedule for his classes each term. He’s naturally a night-owl, so he’d always set his work schedule to be from about 12 noon-8 p.m.

My daughter is now 16 months old, and it’s taken us that long — through trial and error — to realize that my husband’s work schedule needs to change so that he’s available earlier in the evening. This way, he can be the primary the caregiver when I’m in rehearsals and concerts. It’s a work in progress, but we are getting there!

Currently we have a babysitter or a family member help between the time when I have to leave for my work and the time when my husband gets home from his work. It’s important to us that I am able to continue to sing professionally — and to have him be the primary caregiver when I’m away.

A year or two before I became pregnant, I started teaching private voice and piano lessons from home with the vision that I’d be able to continue working from home without concerns for childcare. I’m very happy to say that my daughter loves listening to my students’ lessons, and it’s been fairly easy to balance caring for her while teaching. It’s nice to have a job where I am able to continue to contribute financially to our family, and also have my daughter right there with me.

Reflecting upon my postpartum period, I realized that I went back to work too early. I went back after 6 weeks, thinking that’s what was standard. Since I’m self-employed for all my jobs, I can determine my own maternity leave — all of which is unpaid. For my next baby I think I’d be ready at something more like 12 weeks, if we can swing it financially.

Not only was my body not ready at 6 weeks, but I wasn’t emotionally ready to be away from her and — I’d say, most importantly — my baby wasn’t ready to be away from me. She had a very difficult time and so did her caregivers. Each child’s temperament is different, so my next child may need something else completely. For my own sake, however, a longer maternity leave would do me good.

The way of a musician’s work is usually a patchwork of income from multiple jobs. It’s unconventional, but it’s what I’ve always known so, to me, it’s normal. I teach from home 3 afternoons a week, and sing at a church on Sunday mornings and in multiple professional choruses at varying times. The irregularity of the chorus work is the most challenging aspect of balancing my work and family obligations. Sometimes I have rehearsals once a week, sometimes every day and sometimes I don’t have anything for a few months.

I’m very thankful for my husband who is understanding of my work and can be flexible with his schedule. We also couldn’t do it without our family members, friends and babysitters who have filled in the gaps. It really does take a village to raise a child.

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Creating secure attachments through parental leave

By Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International (API) and coauthor of Attached at the Heart with Lysa Parker

APM 2015 logoEditor’s note: This post was originally published through Parent Compass, an occasional message from API’s cofounders looking in-depth on how Attachment Parenting (AP) intersects with wider society. In celebration of AP Month this October, the latest Parent Compass explores this year’s theme: “Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society.” Sign up to receive future issues of this API newsletter, and we hope you are inspired this AP Month to continue striving to balance parental presence with work responsibilities.

“We have decades of research that tells us how important it is that a bond is established between parents and young children beginning at birth,” says Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. “The  need for time to form secure attachments is critically important. It’s one of the most important things you can do to build a foundation for a lifetime of healthy development.”

This quote was in reaction to the announcement that Netflix is offering up to 1 year of paid parental leave for its employees who give birth or adopt. Of course we rejoice at such progressive policies, but the sad truth is that few companies currently see the long-term benefit to their employees to instigate such policies.

Dr. Shonkoff went on to say in his remarks: “Babies need a sense of safety, predictability and responsiveness. We know from research that all areas of development — whether it’s cognitive development, emotional well-being or social development — has its foundation in this secure relationships. We do a lousy job as a society supporting parents after the birth of their babies. It’s unconscionable with all the deep scientific understanding we have now. It makes no sense to not offer more of that flexibility and support.”

Because of the overwhelming research, and our advocacy for infants and toddlers, Attachment Parenting International is in full support of strong parental leave policies, similar to those in many countries around the world. Sweden’s policy is probably one of the most generous, with 480 days of paid parental leave.

In the meantime, we are amazed at the creativity and dedication of parents to find solutions that will keep their bond with their children strong. From tag-teaming work schedules to enlisting grandparents and other invested family and friends, and creating cooperative childcare with trusted caregivers, many parents are finding solutions to keep their attachments strong. Some parents obtain loans to stay home longer: Many credit unions and banks will give loans in support of a family need, just like they would finance a car. But later this loan can cause a problem if you are not financially secure to repay. And unless you have scotland debt help near you which can help you in repaying the finances over a period of time with the help of their deeds, I don’t think it is a good plan taking such loan.

Lysa helps a lot with the care of her 2-year-old granddaughter, and I am often on-call for family friends that are juggling young children and work schedules. We feel so much compassion for these children who need consistency and trusting relationships — not a constantly changing cast of caregivers who may love children but who are also looking for higher paying jobs and less stress. We are amazed that even in the best university daycares, there is a large turnover every semester of childcare providers. There is such disconnect with the research and its application!

API Support Groups can be a wonderful resource for parents who do not have extended families nearby. Finding friends that have the same parenting values is another critical component in deciding on a non-parental caregiver.

As we move into another election cycle, we encourage all of you to pay attention to candidates who seem to have a particular understanding and compassion for babies and young children, and strong supportive policies. A strong mayor or city council member can have a tremendous impact on community awareness and progressive policies. Look into your state’s policies, too, as they vary tremendously. You might be pleased to know that your state has stronger leave policies then your place of work, and you can stagger the leave of each parent, allowing for more time at home.

Good luck to all parents who are looking for creative solutions! Talk to your local API Leaders, API Support Group members and Attachment Parenting families from around the world on API’s online Neighborhood forum for ideas, too.

Inspired to better balance parental presence with the busyness of our lives?

e4aee175-1115-4d03-bb68-c3009e6c4d4fAPI announces a special API Live teleseminar event on October 19 at 9:00 pm EST/6:00 pm PST as part of AP Month. Call in from the comfort of your home or while on the go to listen to and learn about Simplicity Parenting from Kim John Payne. Register today! Can’t make it that day? Everyone who signs up gets a recording of the teleseminar to listen to on their own time.

Kim John PayneKim John Payne helps families recognize the importance of parental presence, even more so in this day and age when so many pressures are taking the focus away from connected parenting. Through this teleseminar, you’ll walk away with a renewed focus for yourself and your family. To get a taste of his message, follow along on the API Reads discussion of his book, Simplicity Parenting.api reads logo

 

 

 

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