Support for the journey: Grandparents raising grandchildren

Wendy and her husband were looking forward to their retirement. They planned to be ‘grey nomads’; travellers who would see the far ends of Australia and live life on the road.

But one day, without warning, they became sole carers for their baby granddaughter Jessie. Overnight, their world changed as they had to re-learn how to care for an infant, navigate the health and legal systems, and later support Jessie through preschool and school.

While Wendy and her husband worked tirelessly to ensure their granddaughter was happy, healthy and safe, they found themselves feeling increasingly isolated and overwhelmed by the reality of effectively being parents again.

“It isolates you from your friends because they are too old to be bothered with a small child running around at their social group,” Wendy says. “Mostly your friends drift away.”

“Raising children is also such a load when you’re older because you’re slower and you’re just not as capable of getting through things as quickly. Another challenge is that we are grandparent-age to this child and we are several generations removed from today’s realities.”

When Wendy and her husband connected with UnitingCare Tasmania’s Grandparents for Grandchildren program – a program that your support enables – they felt like a weight had been lifted.

Now they have people who can connect them to relevant services, provide a listening ear during tough times and, importantly, introduce them to other grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“When you are in the group, it’s like you’ve come home,” Wendy said. “After two or three years of bottling everything up you suddenly have people who understand what’s happening to your life; who really understand.”

*At Share we respect everyone who is helped by the programs we fund – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, their names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.