Friday, March 15, 2024

Encouraging Grandparents Who Are Raising Their Grandchildren

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA - Chris and Carol Green were the guest speakers at this month’s Grandparents Information Forum, which was hosted by Dolorez Cobb-Jones, founder of a non-profit organization called Grandparents Involved From The Start (GIFTS), Inc, on Thursday evening, March 14, 2024. 

Presenting on the organization's Zoom Conference, the Board Certified Mental Health Coaches spoke from the topic: Mental Health and Your Living Legacy

The purpose of GIFTS is to assist grandparents with knowledge, support and resources so that they will become more informed, involved and empowered to overcome the challenges of raising their grandchild(ren). The Greens were invited as part of a self-care series and this month’s focus was on mental health. 

“Our thanks to Dolorez Cobb-Jones and GIFTS for inviting us to speak on their online forum,” the Greens shared. “The participants were so gracious and receptive.” 

The Greens opened by engaging the group in a relaxation exercise as a practical way to relieve stress and get focused and centered for the online session. Then they explained some of the basic terminology surrounding mental health, daily stress, and traumatic stress; and carried the presentation into a pivotal section called, ‘When Life Happens'. Ninety percent (90%) of U.S. citizens will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime, so life happenings can include: 

·        Natural Disasters

·        Accidental Disasters

·        Intentional or Deliberate Disasters

·        Incidents of loss or unexpected changes in your life and lifestyle

·        Sustained or Repeated Events and Incidents 

“We really wanted to emphasize that even though traumatic stress is more powerful and serious than ordinary day-to-day stress,” the Greens explained, “Traumatic stress is a normal human response to an abnormal event or incident. The brain and body are trying to get back to normal.” 

Since most of their audience is dealing with the unexpected changes and the traumatic incidents that created the current situation in which they are now raising their grandchildren, the Greens shared some of their traumatic experiences like the loss of income, a car repossession, an eviction, and living in a hotel for about two months. 

From this perspective the Greens offered the following everyday mental health tips to help grandparents elevate their mood and become more resilient.

1. Practice self-care and make yourself a priority (Eat healthy, Exercise, Get enough sleep)

2. Disconnect (for a period of time daily) from electronics and social media

3. Engage in activities that provide meaning

4. Volunteer

5. Engage in meditation and/or prayer

6. Avoid heavy substance use

7. Get help from a licensed mental health professional when and if you need it 

Then they concluded by offering tips on how to build a living legacy of mental wellness for their grand children. 

As the Greens were speaking, so many comments were being posted in the group chat that Dolorez Cobb-Jones briefly interrupted the presentation to read a few of them. Samples of the responses were:

  • This is very practical 
  • You're answering the exact questions that I had in my mind
  • Wow 
  • Interesting session 
  • I've been practicing this for the last 3 years ...Love this meeting, very informative 
  • Wonderful 
  • Thank you for this opportunity 
  • Really informative session
  • Thank you !!!
  • Great 

“We just presented a few small but impactful ways to help grandparents improve their mental health every day,” the Greens concluded. “Just as it requires effort to build and maintain physical health, so it is with mental health. We pray that all will see an increase in their overall mental wellness as they press forward in raising their grandchildren in these challenging times."