You’re never too old to help raise a child

Friends of mine are foster carers, albeit not with CatholicCare, and I happened to be at their home recently for dinner. I have known this wonderful couple and the extended family for around ten years. They are community-minded people who do all they can to assist those in need.

On the day that I was with them, they had just taken a sibling group of four children into their care. I am sure anyone who has been a parent would know how difficult it would be moving from being a couple with no children to an instant family of six people. The children were all under seven years and as is the case with most children in foster care, they were showing all the symptoms that come with the trauma of being recently removed from their parents. These little ones needed plenty of tender loving care, reassurance and support; a huge task for my friends.

What struck me the most about this situation though was the fact that my friend’s parents had driven down from the far north coast to lend a hand whilst the little ones settled into their new home. My friend’s parents are retired and have raised their own children and now have plenty of grandchildren of their own. However, they saw their daughter caring for four precious little lives and knew that they could do their part to help, regardless of their season in life.

I reflected on this and it led me to wondering about how many more people who are in the ‘senior’ phase of their lives could be out there, willing to lend a hand without knowing it’s an option. The notion of being a foster carer often conjures up images of having to begin parenting again and have children living in your home permanently. Understandably, for many of us, this is not an option.

However, have you ever considered the notion of being a ‘foster-grandparent’? That is, supporting some of our full time carers with different aspects of raising a child, much like my friend’s parents are doing. My friend’s parents aren’t providing immediate and full-time care, but they are lending a hand for a few days at a time by reading stories to the children, taking care of them for a night so my friends can have a much-needed break, cooking some meals and generally being present in the home giving the little ones a positive grandparent experience.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Our village needs you. If you would be interested in becoming a ‘foster-grandparent’, please contact us (02) 4979 1120.

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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is Acting Director, CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit catholiccare.org.au.

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