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

Fraser Health has added two more Langley schools to its list of COVID-19 exposures. (Joti Grewal/Langley Advance Times)
Two more Langley schools added to COVID-19 exposure list

Families of Langley Secondary and Dorothy Peacock Elementary were notified, district says

John Horgan meets with candidates Pam Alexis and Preet Rai and local citizens in Abbotsford on Wednesday afternoon. (Submitted)
NDP Leader John Horgan campaigns in Abbotsford with local candidates

Horgan meets with hopefuls Pam Alexis and Preet Rai on Wednesday afternoon

Swimco announced recently it is shutting all of its stores in Canada, including in Langley. (Swimco website)
Canadian-owned swimsuit chain bankrupt

Swimco had been in creditor protection for several months

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
COVID case confirmed at Fort Langley Seniors Community

One of five new cases reported by Fraser health Authority

John Horgan brought the NDP campaign to Langley on Wednesday, Oct. 21, just three days before the B.C. vote (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Horgan brings NDP campaign to Langley

Predicts gains, says people are looking at the party ‘differently’ after three years

Mary Foote (right) took part in the Gutsy Walk in August 2020 at the age of 104. She was joined by son in-law Clarence and daughter Edith Olson. (family photo)
Langley woman turns 105 on Oct. 25

In August, Mary Foote took part in the Gutsy Walk to battle Crohn’s and Colitis

Jordan Naterer, an electrical engineer from Vancouver, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. (Facebook photo)
Search efforts to resume for missing Manning Park hiker; Trudeau speaks on case

PM says he’ll do what he can to ‘nudge’ efforts to find Jordan Naterer, yet has little leverage locally

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
B.C. records first COVID-19 outbreak at school, six weeks after students return to class

Three cases of the virus have been identified at École de L’Anse-au-sable

Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is seen as she leaves media event during a campaign stop in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

The Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017 yet received just three seats

Local candidates Pam Alexis, Abbotsford-Mission, and Preet Rai, Abbotsford-West, look on as NDP Leader John Horgan main streets in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the election was unnecessary and irresponsible during the pandemic

Most Read