Fostering or adopting a child who isn't your biological child can be challenging. Taking on all the responsibilities while having no real power can be demoralizing. To make matters worse, there are times when it seems you are expected to keep giving without getting anything back. Even when it looks impossible, you can change your situation if you have the correct information.

Kounsel Live recently hosted Paulina Guzzardo, a certified family therapist, to talk about the structural family therapy model and how it can help families succeed in childrearing, even if they are grandkids or foster kids. She also spoke about youth success in broken systems.

What is the structural family therapy model?

Salvador Munich created this model in the 1960s to help with family therapy. It looks at the family structure to improve how well family members get along with each other. Today, it is one of the most popular methods of family intervention.

The structural family model says that people in broken families are more likely to have stress and mental health problems. So, its method aims at improving communication and family relationships to benefit individual family members, the family as a whole, and the social system. That way, the chance of success is increased.

It addresses youth issues and systemic factors that interfere with growth and development. The model is perfect for urgent situations. It observes real-time family interaction to create data for intervention. It has handled youths with issues at school and conduct issues.

structural family therapy model

How to Raise Your Grandchildren

On July 9, 2018, former US president, Donald Trump, signed the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act into law, which has received support from several groups. This shows the recognition given to grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

The act also proves that you are not alone in your struggle to be present for your grandchildren. It gives a reason to eliminate the stigma that comes with the situation and encourages people to share their resources.

Here are some tips for raising your grandchildren:

  1. Understand that there is a lot you can do. One of the hardest things for grandparents raising their grandchildren is feeling like they can't do anything. You feel like you are in a hopeless situation, especially when the child is acting out. But you don't have to think like that. Understand that you have all you need to reinforce the child's success and allow for growth and success. You have to first be open and willing to be there for the child.
How to Raise Your Grandchildren

2. Help them relax around you. Hobbies and relaxation are essential for helping a young person relax around you, spend time with you, and be able to relate to you. Do not get tired of encouraging and affirming them.

3. Show them that you value their help. Even when they throw tantrums, young people want to feel useful. When they feel indispensable, they are more likely to be grounded in the environment that you create.

Show them that you value their help - How to Raise Your Grandchildren

4. Seek support. Many grandparents are overly protective of their grandchildren and try to raise them without help. Doing this will only wear you out fast. Find someone you can talk to about what you are going through, look for support, or join a support group. You can also reach out to your community for childcare help.

5. Look out for signs. A child is acting out when they exhibit improper actions. However, a child acting out is often a result of feelings that have been repressed or emotions that have been ignored. You have to be attentive when raising your grandchildren to spot these feelings immediately and deal with the situation. Be sensitive to their feelings and reassure them often.

6. Demonstrate empathy and self-awareness. As a grandparent, you want to help your grandchild learn to identify their emotions. Through your actions, you teach them self-regulation, what to do when you are upset and how to handle it. Be deliberate about being present in the moment and building the correct values. Remember that it's okay to say I don't know, and do not take out your frustrations on them.

How to get more support as a single parent

Even in the best of circumstances, raising a child can be challenging. The stakes are higher when you don't have a partner. If you're a single parent, you might be in charge of all of the day-to-day aspects of child care, making it necessary to get support.

One way to get more support as a single parent is to find another adult that supports your child-rearing method and get them to help you. That adult can be a friend or anyone present in your house. While they do not have to live with you, their presence should be recognized by you and your child.

How to get more support as a single parent

The point is to create a powerful, reinforcing way to relate. It gives the feeling of the child having to go through two people instead of one. This method can only succeed if the adults get along, are on the same page about how things should go, and love the child enough to thrive.

You can also ask for invaluable support from family and friends to make your life easier.

About Paulina Guzzardo

Paulina is a family and youth counselor in Texas. She has experience in various types of counseling and is happy to provide the best advice for your situation. You can find Paulina on Kounsel.