Leaves, director of the centre, organised the support group - the only one
in the country - after she and her husband took on the care of two
granddaughters and realised the need to talk out the experiences.
mid-lifers discovered they had little in common with friends who had raised
their families but were now enjoying the empty nest.
One women tells of the harrowing illness and death of her 24-year-old
daughter from a kidney tumour,
leaving young children. Gran took the
two girls into her home. Their father
was in a new relationship and unable to care for them.
the trials of raising toddlers captivate the empty-nesters. A
grandfather tells of raising two stepgrandchildren aged three and four.
The daughter?s partner had left her and she could not cope on her own. His
problem is how to juggle his part-time job, his wife?s part-time job and to
make sure one or the other is at home to mind the young ones.
Why parents give up
grandparents are a growing band.
?Mental illness, death of young mothers are not new,? says Chris Leaves.
?But today the breakdown of families contributes more and more to the
phenomenon. And the increase in teenage pregnancy.?
believes the major factor is the Children Act of 1989.
Before the act, when courts were ruling on who should take care of children
in these situations, the courts
were putting them into local authority care, where they were put up for
fostering or adoption.
Sensibly, the idea was changed to ?let?s keep it in the family?,
meaning grandparents or other relatives.?
challenges for grandparents are large.
How do you explain to a six-year-old why their father or mother is unable to
look after them?
What logic do you search for to explain to two adolescents that daddy really
does care for them though he chose a second marriage and the stepchildren
who came with it?
Peterborough group goes for reassurance and love, kisses and cuddles - even
more than they gave to their own children at a similar stage.
Is the age gap a problem?
Many of the
group have gone back to school in order to grasp new maths and master
computer technology so that they can help with the homework.
children embarrassed about having grandparents at PTA meetings?
Not much says the head of the local school.
It is common these days to live
in a no-traditional family. A
study revealed that in one class alone only three children resided in a
household with both parents.
cost money, which is tough on a retirement income.
Retirement savings may be spent on teenagers.
And some grandparents have no choice but to give up working.
Local authorities may help with a means-tested maintenance allowance,
but procedures vary.
ask any of these grandparents how they feel about their commitment, and they
?It is immensely rewarding, worth every sacrifice.
We couldn?t do otherwise.?
To view previous articles in this series - see
the laterlife-interest index page