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

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read