BEING woken by a screaming baby in the middle of the night is tough for any parent. But it’s even more exhausting when you are over 60.
Yet this is the reality for the growing number of grandparents who are raising their children’s kids.
A total of 140,000 youngsters have been left in the care of grandparents or friends because their own parents are unable to look after them.
Drug and alcohol abuse are the main reasons for the growing trend, according to a shocking report by charity Grandparents Plus.
Here, grans and grandads who have had to take on parental duties talk about the difficulties, hardships and joys of raising their child’s child.
FORMER care assistant Christine is married to retired mechanical engineer Tony, 70. Christine, who had to give up work on medical grounds, has five children from her first marriage. Tony has four. The couple, from Middlesbrough, have raised Christine’s ten-year-old granddaughter Angie* since she was born.
Christine says: “Angie was nine months old when we got a residence order to look after her. My daughter and her boyfriend were drinking and taking drugs. My daughter started drinking at 14 – although I didn’t know at the time.
“One night, when she was 16, I thought she was at a sleepover but found her passed out drunk in a road. It was then I saw how bad her alcohol abuse was. We tried to help but she wasn’t interested. She is the only one of my kids who turned to drink.
“She left school and started working but was laid off. At 18 she became pregnant with Angie. We then found out she was still drinking.
“She gave birth to Angie but later that day wanted to see her boyfriend and wouldn’t stay to see the midwife. She didn’t come back until the next day. I knew I’d have to take Angie on.
“Social services said they couldn’t help. They eventually put me in touch with Cafcass, the Children And Family Court Advisory And Support Service. They helped us get a residence order.
“My daughter is in prison now. Financially, it is difficult. Tony has a pension and I have incapacity benefit. All I get for Angie is child benefit.
“She talks about her mum and it upsets her. She’s intelligent and has been to a psychotherapist as she has taken her temper out on me.
“But she has calmed down. We have our little talks and are brilliant friends.”
For more info about Cafcass, visit cafcass.gov.uk or call 0844 353 3350.
Author: Nikki Watkins
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