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)

Support group offered for B.C. grandparents raising kids

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

  • Dec. 5, 2019 6:00 a.m.

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

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Nine Abbotsford citizens fleeced for over $68,000 by bitcoin scammers

Police warn public about fraudsters who threaten arrest

Comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Women take centre stage at NHL all-star skills competition

Canada beat the United States 2-1 in a spirited 3-on-3 game between female players Friday night

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Most Read