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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

Tofino and Ucluelet distilleries step up with hand sanitizer

Mass supply delivered to emergency operation centres in Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield and Port Alberni.

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read