Q&A with Dr. Carletta N. Perry: Raising grandkids

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Q. I am a grandmother trying to raise my grandson, but he will not talk to me. What is going on with him?

A. First, I would like to applaud all of the grandparents who are raising grandchildren due to death, incarceration or some other type of separation by the parents. This is not an easy task.

Some would say this is not the way a child typically should be raised. I agree that grandparents deserve to enjoy their senior years but it is not that abnormal for grandparents to raise grandchildren, because grandparents have always played a significant role in the rearing of their grandchildren.

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Some children were raised by their parents and grandparents in the same household; some children went to Grandma’s house regularly after school; some children went to visit in the summer; and some children were “dropped off” and left to live with their grandparents permanently, leaving behind school, friends and familiarity.

It is important to note that most grandparents enjoy their role as grandparents and spoiling their grandchildren, and grandchildren love their grandparents because of their unconditional love. It is also important to note that most parents love their children and the children love their parents, despite parent and child actions.

However, separation from a parent can leave a child feeling abandoned, angry, alone, depressed, unloved and so on. I teach grandparents how to become the counselor their grandchildren need by, first, acknowledging that these emotions may be present or become present at any given time.

Second, they should understand that children and teens do not always say what they feel. They often “act out” or express their emotions through their behaviors. Examples might include significant changes in grades, friends, dress, goals or attitude; risky or illegal behavior; or isolating and always wanting to be alone, just to name a few.

Third, learn to match the child’s behavior to his or her emotion and speak to that emotion, not to the behavior. What I mean by this is that it is important to try to stay focused on what they are going through, rather than on their actions.

However, this is only half of this step. The other half is remembering that your grandchild is still a child and no matter what he or she is going through, he or she still needs discipline. Let him know you love him, so you must discipline him, and you discipline him because you love him.

Dr. Carletta N. Perry holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, with specialties in marriage and family. She is a professor of psychology, a therapeutic life coach and relationship expert, as well as author, radio and television host and entrepreneur. Catch her new television show, “It’s Life Changing with Dr. Carletta Perry,” Sundays at 7 p.m. on Charter Channel 191. Email your own questions for this feature to contact@drcarlettaperry.com.