Tip Sheet Tuesday: The Emotional Journey of Relative Caregiving

Many relative caregivers have said they just didn’t know how hard everything would be until the day came when they realized that they were now the “parent” to their relative’s children.

Many also didn’t know that parenting again would bring them on a roller coaster of emotions and change the way they feel about everything, including their own definition of family.

Grandfather and granddaughter outdoors

Change is Hard
Often children are placed in the homes of relative caregivers because of safety concerns for the children or concerns about the parent’s ability to provide appropriate care for their children.

Maybe you are hoping that your relative will turn things around and come to see how her behaviors are affecting her children’s lives. Maybe the children were only supposed to be with you for a few months and those few months have now turned into a couple of years.

When the children were first placed, you probably worried more about the children. But as more and more time passes, you may be beginning to understand the amount of loss and stress this family change has brought you.

Journey of Feelings
The feelings that you experience are probably total opposites and range from being happy one moment to angry and sad the next. You’re not alone—many caregivers feel like this.

Emotional Ups. Not everything is stressful, however. Or, if they are stressful, many families thrive in spite of it. Jeff and Cindy Ziegler are an aunt and uncle in southern Wisconsin who took in their niece.

Jeff Ziegler says, “It was fun to see her meld into the family and be just another part of it. I also enjoyed the candid conversations of what her life was like and how she helped to improve it.” CONTINUE READING

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