Donaldsonville — Once a month, grandparents raising their grandchildren sit down to share issues and strategies with others in the same situation.
The Ascension Counseling Center in Donaldsonville started hosting the Grandparents Café three years ago after several grandparents started asking for help dealing with helping their grandchildren with homework, computer issues and peer pressure.
Wanda August, a parent facilitator with Ascension Public Schools, said the idea for the grandparent support group came from, Kathy Edmonston, another parent facilitator.
“Kathy was seeing grandparents struggling with the issues that come up when you’re parenting a younger generation,” August said.
The group sessions are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 419 Memorial Drive in Donaldsonville.
“They get to meet with others who are in the same boat and have the same experience,” August said.
In some cases, the grandparents are unexpectedly thrust into a new role, and in other cases, the new child-rearing scenario is temporary.
“We offer them a safe place to share ideas and experiences,” August said.
The group sessions have led to some grandparents getting together outside the meetings, forming bonds and relationships that help with their challenges, she said.
August said many of the grandparents say raising grandchildren is different from raising “your own children and can come with things you never faced the first time around.”
Today’s children, she said, communicate differently from those in past generations and question authority in different ways. Discipline measures that may have worked 20 years ago may not be as effective today, August said.
For example, she said, many of the grandparents used nonverbal ways to communicate displeasure by “giving their child a look and that’s all they had to do.”
Today’s youth don’t necessarily respond to those same nonverbal cues that worked in the past.
And, August said, text messaging, cellphones and social networking are relatively new to many of the grandparents attending the sessions.
In some cases, the new situation can be overwhelming.
“We stress the importance of taking care of yourself so you can take care of the children,” August said.
Past sessions have included talks by nurses who stress exercise and wellness.
The meetings also provide a chance for the grandparents to learn about volunteering opportunities at schools and in the community. Many of the grandparents serve as volunteers at school functions.
Some of the grandparents were unsure about volunteering at school because of their age — many are 20 to 40 years older than the other parents. August said the meetings provide tips on how to get involved in their grandchildren’s lives.
She said the group usually has 10 to 20 attending, ranging in age from 50 to almost 80.
She’s hoping to start a group in Gonzales.
The next meeting is at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 16.
For information, call August at (225) 717-2463.