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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

GOOD BOOK- But not for Mother's Day

For those of you who want to get Grandma-Mom something for Mother's Day (or Christmas, or Easter, or Valentine's Day), forget self-help books. Get her something to lift her spirits & reserve her energy. If you can afford a spa day with massage for her, that's a really good gift, & a mani, pedi or  haircut is good, too if you can't afford the big guns. If you can take the grandkids for a few hours or even overnight, that would be much appreciated. Unless she is allergic, chocolate is generally a hit. Flowers, whether live or in arrangements, are nice. If you are her spouse, well, jewelry is fabulous!

Now, if you give Grandma-Mom a gift card to a book purveyor, she can buy what she wants. And if she chooses to use your generosity to buy self-help books, then that is her choice.

But do NOT buy her a self-help book, especially a self-help book about grandparents raising grandchildren! She may just be getting used to this situation. If so, when she ready, she will get her own self-help books. She may view the books as criticism. Given that in all likelihood one of her brood will be missing, whether through death or choice, do you want to remind her of it?

Stick with her favorite perfume, or even a big-box store card. 
NOW THEN- When I first started to be a retread parent, I couldn't find books on the subject. I did find a government web site, and web sites for support groups, oh yes and a blog, one lonely blog, where the grandparent had sadly returned the grandchildren due to court order. Maybe that was better for me. I started another blog that I have since closed, and I played it by ear. 

I didn't know there was a book, now over 16 years from year of publication, that would have been a big help.

Grandparents as Parents: A Survival Guide for Raising a Second Family by Sylvie de Toledo and Deborah Elder Brown has been the best of the guides I've seen thus far. Sylvie's sister committed suicide, leaving behind a young son. So she knows first-hand from observation and assisting her parents what a mixed bag retread parenting is, not to mention her social worker skills (not every social worker is just another cog or crackpot, after all). She and Deborah put together a very practical guide for grandparents and other relatives.

The best feature is the recognition of real feelings of grandparents, as well as the clarity used to express it. Having been previously married before the Mister, I have to say most other books I've read on the subject grandparents raising grandchildren seem to be rehashes of divorce books I've read, using the same jargon, the same nomenclature, the same insipid recommendations ("Never say anything bad about the child's parent and encourage the child never to do so" and the like), even the same court rules!  

Grandparents As Parents recognizes that it is a whole 'nuther animal entirely! 

Grandparents As Parents left me feeling very positive about the choices the Mister and I have made on behalf of our grandchildren. I was glad to see that somebody besides me actually stated in print that grandparents do not legally bear the financial support of their grandchildren. I was thrilled to read that children needed to be allowed to express the anger and hurt they feel toward absent parents. I felt blessed to read that, indeed, sometimes the whole rescue of a child goes south in court in order to preserve parental ties, ties that are often every damaged or nonexistent, when child protective services and the juvenile justice system becomes involved in the situation. It was this sad governmental situation that is actually supposed to protect a child, that we fought to make sure was not involved in our guardianship and adoption of our grandchildren. 

The only flaw that I could see was outdated information on grandparents obtaining SNAP for their grandchildren, also known as food stamps. At least in Illinois, grandparental income no longer counts toward the indigent child's income as a unit, but the grandparent who collects for the grandchild is considered the representative payee (RPY) for the grandchild. Perhaps Sylvie and Deborah could revise and update this excellent guide soon!         

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