Margaret (raising one grandchild): Hi, my name is Margaret Jackson. I’m a grandparent of one beautiful boy. Joel came to live with me when he was 3 years old. I had retired from work. His mother was working full-time, so he came to stay with me from Sunday evening through to Friday evening, and then he’d go home to his mum on weekends.
Freda (raising one grandchild): My name is Freda. I became a grandparent 13 years ago. I’ve had my eldest granddaughter with me since she was a newborn. The reason for that is circumstances with my daughter. She couldn’t have her, so I was the next best thing and I said to her that I would help look after her for a few years. But it’s worked out a little bit longer than we thought.
Rae (raising 2 grandchildren): I’m Rae. I’m raising 2 grandsons, now 20 and 22. They were 8 months old and 2½ [when I started taking care of them]. The atmosphere that Daniel was being raised in – the constant fighting and the constant alcohol and things – he was not getting the care and attention that he should have been getting. His mum because of it was quite out of it – stress, depression, all that sort of thing.
Michael Whitehead (Manager, Ryde Family Support Service, facilitates a grandparent carer support group): My name’s Michael Whitehead, I’m the manager of Ryde Family Support Service. I’ve been the manager for about 5 years, which is about the same time that we have been running a grandparent carers support group. There’s a myriad of challenges that grandparents have to meet. The first one of course is the immediate shock of having grandchildren, in most cases foisted on them and landing on their doorstep in traumatic circumstances.
Freda: There were times when I thought ‘Should I take her or should I just leave her with her mum. I didn’t know for sure how the connection between the 3 of us ... how it would be. But because we had a really strong connection from the beginning, she more or less wanted to be with me.
Rae: Emotionally wise, when you take them on, or when you’re looking at taking them on, it’s a drain. It’s definitely a drain. You can see the behaviour of their parents towards these kids, and their lack of care of these kids. And situations they were put in that were not in their interests, or safe.
Freda: I had to go back to the school system, where I had to take her to school. I had to put her into after school care, because I finished work at 5. Things like that was a little bit hard for me at times.
Rae: Just getting into a routine was the main thing. Just working out your times to go shopping and getting their sleep patterns in order, and all the rest.
Margaret: I actually did 3 parenting courses. Because when I had my kids, and they were young, it was totally different, and I never had this problem to deal with. So I did the parenting courses so I would know how to deal with it.