Feature

Connecting families with surrogate grandparents

In our society it is quite common that a nuclear family lives far away from extended family members. Many nuclear families feel their children are missing out on a great experience because they grow up without the close contact of grandparents. The parents might feel socially isolated and might feel they have nobody to turn to for advice and guidance. They are often so caught up in work and organising the household that they feel they can’t spend enough quality time with their children.

 

Catherine’s family Photo: Supplied
Catherine’s family Photo: Supplied

On the other side, there are many seniors who feel lonely and isolated, because their children and grandchildren don’t live close to them. They miss the regular contact with children.

This is the reason why more than six years ago I started a service called Find a Grandparent that connects families with surrogate grandparents. Find a Grandparent is a non-profit organisation that helps families and seniors to connect. The organisation is web-based and operates Australia wide.

The surrogate grandparents who register with Find a Grandparent are coming to young families on a voluntary basis. They don’t replace babysitters, but come regularly and want to establish a close, long-term relationship with the family. They might go to the park with a family, play board games, cook with the kids or do some craft. It’s totally up to the family and surrogate grandparent to decide what kind of activity they would like to do together but it’s recommended they meet at least every fortnight to establish a close relationship.

One member family of Find a Grandparent, still looking to connect with a surrogate grandparent, is Catherine’s family. They live in the Inner West but don’t have any extended family close by. Mum Catherine is a doctor, but is currently staying at home looking after their children and managing home and family. Dad Michael is very busy running his own business but the kids love it when he spends time with them.

Catherine and Michael have three gorgeous children: First there is Harry, 6, who loves Lego, Star Wars, soccer, swimming, learning the guitar and going to Mandarin lessons. Next in line is Elisabeth, 3, who loves outdoor activities, ballet and soccer. And then there is baby Madeleine, 9 months old and a beautiful happy baby. All three kids engage well with people who are interested in what they’re doing and like to join in, so their parents really feel they would benefit from having a surrogate grandparent in their lives.

Anyone over the age of 45 years who is fit and active, loves young families and would enjoy giving them some of their time can register for free on the Find a Grandparent website to become a surrogate grandparent. However, a national police check at the prospective grandparent’s cost is required. Some states also offer a Working with Children Check that includes a police check, free of charge.

Membership for families costs $40 for six months. After this period the family can extend their subscription free of charge until they find a connection.

There are currently many families and seniors in all of Australia that have signed up on the Find a Grandparent website. And many more are checking the website regularly to see if surrogate grandparents or families in their area have joined the organisation.

The organisation has connected over 100 families with surrogate grandparents.

 

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