Becoming a grandparent is traditionally regarded as a joyous occasion and a time to reconnect with family members and to support the new parents, but it is a very common, especially in current times, for the new parents to live with the grandparents. With the current financial climate dictating that both parents need to work fulltime to be able to afford a mortgage, it is increasingly left to the grandparents to help raise the children.
I became a grandmother at the age of 38. To say I was surprised was an understatement. It was definitely not what I envisioned for my eldest son, to become a parent at 19, but we agreed as a family that we would fully support him and his partner. I was a young mother myself, so I knew what was ahead for them all.
Sadly, the relationship between my son and his partner broke down two months after the birth of my grandchild, so my son became a single parent which he was definitely not ready for, and to be honest, neither was I. My son could not cope with college, part time job and looking after a newborn and sadly navigating the child and family court services to secure full custody.
It was decided that it would be better for everyone if I gave up my career to look after my grandchild so that my son could continue with his schooling and try and make a better life for his son.
Being a teenager
Initially, it appeared to be working out, but I started to feel resentment towards my son. Don't get me wrong, I loved being a grandmother, but I was exhausted and my son began to take me for granted. He would start hanging out with his friends after college and not come home to take over from me. I used to make excuses for him, he's only young, he's been at college all day, but then I had been a mom at this age and nobody helped me out.
I tried to find local groups in my area for young grandmothers, but nothing. I was actually turned down from joining two groups because they said I was too young for their group and I would be sending the wrong message.
I really needed the support of other women, I felt very alone and although I had experience of young babies, I felt out of my depth. I was not only raising my grandson full time and living with me, I was also trying to teach my son to be a good dad.
The average age for a first time parent is now between 38 and 45, so I was younger than most of the moms at the playgroups I attended when my grandchild was old enough to go to. I did get compliments on how young I looked, but also experienced prejudice which I was not expecting. I heard moms discussing me and that I couldn't of raised my child well if I was a grandmother already.
Parenting a teenager with a baby
Along with adjusting to my role as a full time carer, I was also trying to teach my son how to be a good father. He didn't know how to bathe the baby, know when it needed feeding and changing or just needed cuddling. I could tell he wanted to do better, he was just overwhelmed and scared of making mistakes. I believe now, that I should of been tougher on him and let him make mistakes but at the same time, I didn't want him giving up and leaving.
It took time, patience, arguments and compromise to get to the place we are at now. I couldn't be more prouder of the father my son has become. It is now 10 years later and my grandchild is doing great and has a wonderful relationship with my son. We all have a close relationship. but if I could choose, I would definitely not want to go through that situation again. If I could of found support groups in my area where I could get advice from, or just to talk and vent the worries I had, I think the situation would of been much easier to deal with.