How Do I Choose the Best Support Groups for Grandparents?

Lainie Petersen

If you are raising your grandchildren or are faced with unique challenges in your relationship with your grandchild or grandchildren, you may wish to look into support groups for grandparents. When choosing a support group, ask about the group's focus, its leadership, and where and when it meets. Other considerations include whether the support group provides child care during its meetings and whether you will be expected to pay fees or dues in order to participate. One good way to find good support groups for grandparents is to ask doctors, social workers, or community mental health centers for referrals. Clergy are another good source of information about support groups as well and may be able to direct you to groups with a religious affiliation if this is important to you.

Doctors may be able to recommend the best support groups for grandparents.
Doctors may be able to recommend the best support groups for grandparents.

When you first begin your search for support groups for grandparents, consider your situation and communicate it to group leaders. Some support groups for grandparents may be very specific in focus. For example, a group may serve only grandparents who have primary custody of their grandchildren, while others may be open to all grandparents. Some groups may be focused on grandparents who have custody of their grandchildren for certain reasons, such as the incarceration of their parents or because the grandchildren's parents are substance abusers. If you have particular concerns about your own relationship with your grandchildren, speak to the support group leader about it and ask if the group is an appropriate venue for working through these issues.

Support groups for grandparents may be organized and facilitated in different ways. Some may be led by mental health or social work professionals, while others may be led by laypeople. Many people benefit from each type of group, so it is up to you to decide which might be more beneficial. If you are interested in a group that has an educational component, such as regular presentations by legal or child development experts, you should ask the group leader or leaders if such events are ever organized by the group.

Online support groups for grandparents offer the convenience of being able to receive and offer support without having to leave your home. In some cases, however, you may appreciate the intimacy and immediacy of face-to-face interactions. When evaluating in-person support groups, ask about meeting times and where the group meets. You may wish to choose the group that is most convenient for you to attend. Some groups may also provide babysitting during meetings, which can make attending even easier and more convenient. Ask whether such a service is offered if you have difficulty arranging childcare on your own.

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