Published on 20 November 2023
Sharing the experience of raising grandchildren
Raising grandchildren is about devotion and love. It can also be exhausting and lonely.
Onkaparinga’s Grandparents Group helps grandparents to feel less isolated, have a few laughs, and share the joy and challenges.
The group meets every fortnight to share an affordable, chef-cooked lunch at Wakefield House Positive Ageing Centre in Morphett Vale. They also head out on outings for coffee and pub meals.
“The Grandparents Group is open to any grandparent in Onkaparinga who is raising their grandchild,” says Trish Buckley, Onkaparinga’s Active Ageing Coordinator.
“Caring for grandchildren is not what people expect they’ll be doing later in life. While your friends are living it up as grey nomads, you’re packing nappy bags and reading school reports.
“There are many reasons why grandparents have caring responsibilities for their grandchildren. This group helps grandparents feel they are not alone.”
Grandparent Lyndall Williams joined the group around 10 years ago. She says it has been important for her and her grandson.
“My grandson loved meeting the other grandparents and grandchildren on a regular basis. There’s no bullying. Because the other children were the same as him, he felt safe in this environment,” she says.
“For me, it’s about sanity. The group is a sounding board. A problem shared is a problem halved.
“The other grandparents have lots of knowledge and experience. They know the pitfalls of what I’m going through. When we hear another person’s similar experience, it’s like finding a gold nugget.”
Grandparents raising grandchildren can also receive support from Grandcarers SA, a statewide, not-for-profit organisation formerly known as Grandparents for Grandchildren.
Grandcarers SA supports kinship carers and grandparents who are not legal guardians, and who have limited rights to see their grandchildren, as well as grandparents and kinship carers who have formal and informal caring roles.
The organisation offers confidential support and information through a telephone helpline and face-to-face meetings.
Trish says Onkaparinga’s Grandparents Group, run by the council’s Active Ageing team since 2014, has blossomed in recent years.
“It has such a positive feeling, and everyone looks forward to the future. Everyone laughs a lot and supports each another, it’s like a family,” she says.
“New members are warmly welcome.”
The City of Onkaparinga runs two positive ageing centres – Wakefield House and Elizabeth House.
Community members are welcome to drop in at both centres or join in a range of events, including friendship clubs, dancing, art and craft, yoga, fitness, woodwork, writing and bingo. Wakefield House also offers affordable lunches in its community café.
For grandparent Lyndall, being part of the Grandparents Group is about being with people who understand.
“Most people don’t know what it’s like to live with grandchildren fulltime – but the group does,” she says. “We share life experiences. We know we’re not alone,”
She says group members share an important goal: “It’s simple. It’s about surviving until our grandchildren are grown-up and self-sufficient.”
IMAGE: Caring grandparents Trish Boss and Dolly Dean come together at Wakefield House’s Grandparents Group
Wakefield House: 65 Acre Avenue, Morphett Vale, 8384 6158
Elizabeth House: 112 Elizabeth Road, Christie Downs, 8384 5170
Both centres are open Monday to Friday 9am-4pm