Wes Groen, Mary Scheidegger and her grandson Issac share play time at Fletcher Park on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Scheidegger has helped put together the Grandparent and Kinship Care Circle support group for grandparents and family members who have unexpectedly taken over parenting. (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer) Wes Groen, Mary Scheidegger and her grandson Issac share play time at Fletcher Park on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Scheidegger has helped put together the Grandparent and Kinship Care Circle support group for grandparents and family members who have unexpectedly taken over parenting. (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer)

Grandparents raising children: Salmon Arm grandma sees need for support

Peer group formed for those who have unexpectedly taken on the role of parenting

Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Raising a child is one of the most challenging jobs parents face.

Those challenges can multiply when grandparents or family members unexpectedly have to take over parenting.

According to Statistics Canada, some 60,000 grandparents in Canada are sole caregivers to their grandchildren, and thousands more relatives are raising children other than their own.

There are an estimated 13,000 children in kinship care in B.C., with few resources available to support their caregivers.

Two Salmon Arm women who are parenting a child other than their own have taken training through the Parent Support Services Society of BC and are facilitating a new Support Circle that will offer peer-to-peer support.

Mary Scheidegger was in a new relationship and looking forward to being an empty nester and sharing retirement with her partner, when she became full-time parent to her grandson two years ago.

“All those things got thrown to the wind,” she said pointing out while there are many moments of joy, she often feels isolated and lonely.

“I don’t get to connect with many friends who are of the same age and I don’t feel I fit in anywhere.”

Scheidegger says there are many reasons why grandparents or other family members are suddenly faced with becoming “parents” again.

“Addictions is the biggest one, but there are mental health issues, death, incarceration and incapacity,” she said.

In her early 40s, Jennifer Beckett was 37 years old when she and her husband took on the role of parents to her great niece.

Unlike Scheidegger, Beckett says she has friends who were still having children and her own mother is a great support, so the transition wasn’t as difficult.

“We were just getting to the point of having some freedom,” she said, noting the youngest of her three boys was 14 at the time and she was able to focus more on a career she loves.

“We were looking forward to doing more things and not thinking about childcare.”

But like Scheidegger, she was suddenly faced with 18 years of not just childcare, but making lunches, fitting in child-centred activities, playdates and new challenges presented by social media.

“I get exhausted just thinking about it,” she said of a life without downtime.

“It’s a bit of a grieving process; you’re giving things up and your time isn’t your own again.”

And there are feelings of resentment and anger that need to be addressed but are often accompanied by shame and are difficult to express, adds Scheidegger.

Unable to find support for themselves and knowing there are other grandparent and kinship parents in the community, Scheidegger and Beckett will facilitate the new Grandparent and Kinship Care Circle, which will meet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

With support of the province and United Way, the meetings are confidential and a light supper is provided.

Topics up for discussion are brought by participants and can include such subjects as family relationships, financial realities, legal and custody challenges, physical and emotional health.

“Our situation is unique and we can’t jut talk to anybody about them,” Scheidegger said.

“So this peer support group is meant to provide a listening ear, friendship, support, ideas and probably a few laughs. But there is no counselling or legal advice.”

All Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and Kin Caregivers in the Shuswap are welcome.

For more information and to register, call 1-877-345-9777, or either Mary Scheidegger at 250-833-6379 or Jennifer Beckett at 250-517-7557.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

United Way celebrates seven decades of impact in Southern Interior

Organization sees issues with poverty, mental health and addictions, heighten during the pandemic

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Sicamous mayor hopeful Highway 1 bridge replacement remains a priority after election

Construction of Bruhn Bridge replacement was initially to commence in 2020

Heating, flooring, other projects prepare Shuswap schools for reopening

School District #83 staff comfortable with work done at Parkview to address moisture issues

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Kelowna man injured during arrest sues RCMP

Supreme Court civil claim alleges Dustin Blondin was the victim of an ‘unprovoked attack’

PHOTOS: Ghost sighting in Vernon’s Polson Park

Mom and daughter photoshoot brings joy and laughter to bystanders

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Parks Canada not responsible for Mount Kobau blockade

Nearby residents have been vocal about plans to turn the area into a national park

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read