When a Family Member's Child Comes to Live With You

Reviewed Jul 24, 2017

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Summary

Think about:

  • Your new family dynamic
  • House rules
  • Financial and legal issues

There are many reasons why you might be caring for a family member’s child. It could be through a divorce, death, jail time, job relocation, or a short-term event, like a deployment. You might be single or have a family of your own. Whatever the reason, and whatever your current household is like, you can be sure that the new family dynamic will have its hard moments. You might be taking in a child, multiple children, and even the parent.

A new family dynamic

Bringing a new child into the fold can be hard. Based on the child’s age, you might need to alter your home to be safer for a toddler. Or you might try to add a more private space to let a teen have a bit of freedom. If you are single or with a partner but have no kids, it will be a learning curve to get used to the child, children, and/or extra adult. If you have other kids in the house, it will take an even more delicate approach.

Don’t expect bonds to form right away. It’s going to take some time for the child to get to know you or your family and vice versa—even if she has been to your home many times before. It is one thing to visit, but another thing to live somewhere full time. There might be some feelings of being left behind by the parents through divorce, death, or abuse, and potential trust issues with adults. It’s very likely that the child will act out to get attention.

It might also be hard for the parent, if you are taking them in as well. It can be embarrassing to depend on another family. There can be pride issues or feelings of guilt for not being able to give enough. If it’s due to a divorce, abuse, or jail time, the parent might be reeling from the emotional pain from their last relationship.

House rules

Whether the situation is for a short time or forever, you need to set up house rules. If fitting, talk with the parent to get a sense of what the ground rules were like at his last home. Note what rules you need to make your household run smoothly. Think about:

  • Who does what chores and why?
  • During what time will homework be done?
  • When is bedtime?
  • What will the weekends look like, especially if there is visitation with the other parent?

If the child is at a negotiating age, involve him in the talk. Telling him “just because” won’t help him to feel wanted as a family member. Give consequences if the rules are not followed. Structure is helpful for both the kids and you.

Financial and legal Issues

Finances are a big issue when it comes to raising another child. If your family member is still alive and able to help, make a reasonable budget with which they can contribute. Think about:

  • What does your current budget look like?
  • What extra costs will you have with rent, groceries, and utilities?
  • What school fees will come up in the form of tuition, uniforms, and/or supplies?
  • How will the other parent—if around—help with these costs?

If the parent is living with you as well and can work, factor their income into the budget. Kids can be costly. But there are also local programs that can help with food, clothing, health care, and school fees.

As far as legal issues, be clear how long you will have the child and under what conditions. It might be for a short time and a verbal contract will do. If the parent has died or will be gone entirely, you might want to go through a legal adoption to secure guardianship. Or if it’s likely brief but there is no real timeline, you will want to get some sort of legal guardianship so you can make choices about schooling and more. The resources below are a good place to start.

Keep in mind that this situation is not only hard on you and your family, but can be very hard on the biological parent(s). Some have to give kids up due to drug and alcohol problems, military deployment, or even temporary jobs. If the parent can no longer care for their child but is still around, talk with them about the expectations of care. This is especially important if the situation is temporary and the child will return to them.

With love, patience, and care, you will be able to make your new household a warm place for the child to be.

Resource

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/info-08-2011/grandfamilies-guide-getting-started.html

By Andrea Rizzo, MFA
Source: Raising a Family Member’s Children: www.just-kids.ca/linksandresources/HANDBOOK%20-%20BC%20-%20FINAL.pdf; When Family Members Are Your Child's Caregiver: www.verywell.com/when-relatives-are-your-childs-caregiver-617042
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, LMFT, EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Think about:

  • Your new family dynamic
  • House rules
  • Financial and legal issues

There are many reasons why you might be caring for a family member’s child. It could be through a divorce, death, jail time, job relocation, or a short-term event, like a deployment. You might be single or have a family of your own. Whatever the reason, and whatever your current household is like, you can be sure that the new family dynamic will have its hard moments. You might be taking in a child, multiple children, and even the parent.

A new family dynamic

Bringing a new child into the fold can be hard. Based on the child’s age, you might need to alter your home to be safer for a toddler. Or you might try to add a more private space to let a teen have a bit of freedom. If you are single or with a partner but have no kids, it will be a learning curve to get used to the child, children, and/or extra adult. If you have other kids in the house, it will take an even more delicate approach.

Don’t expect bonds to form right away. It’s going to take some time for the child to get to know you or your family and vice versa—even if she has been to your home many times before. It is one thing to visit, but another thing to live somewhere full time. There might be some feelings of being left behind by the parents through divorce, death, or abuse, and potential trust issues with adults. It’s very likely that the child will act out to get attention.

It might also be hard for the parent, if you are taking them in as well. It can be embarrassing to depend on another family. There can be pride issues or feelings of guilt for not being able to give enough. If it’s due to a divorce, abuse, or jail time, the parent might be reeling from the emotional pain from their last relationship.

House rules

Whether the situation is for a short time or forever, you need to set up house rules. If fitting, talk with the parent to get a sense of what the ground rules were like at his last home. Note what rules you need to make your household run smoothly. Think about:

  • Who does what chores and why?
  • During what time will homework be done?
  • When is bedtime?
  • What will the weekends look like, especially if there is visitation with the other parent?

If the child is at a negotiating age, involve him in the talk. Telling him “just because” won’t help him to feel wanted as a family member. Give consequences if the rules are not followed. Structure is helpful for both the kids and you.

Financial and legal Issues

Finances are a big issue when it comes to raising another child. If your family member is still alive and able to help, make a reasonable budget with which they can contribute. Think about:

  • What does your current budget look like?
  • What extra costs will you have with rent, groceries, and utilities?
  • What school fees will come up in the form of tuition, uniforms, and/or supplies?
  • How will the other parent—if around—help with these costs?

If the parent is living with you as well and can work, factor their income into the budget. Kids can be costly. But there are also local programs that can help with food, clothing, health care, and school fees.

As far as legal issues, be clear how long you will have the child and under what conditions. It might be for a short time and a verbal contract will do. If the parent has died or will be gone entirely, you might want to go through a legal adoption to secure guardianship. Or if it’s likely brief but there is no real timeline, you will want to get some sort of legal guardianship so you can make choices about schooling and more. The resources below are a good place to start.

Keep in mind that this situation is not only hard on you and your family, but can be very hard on the biological parent(s). Some have to give kids up due to drug and alcohol problems, military deployment, or even temporary jobs. If the parent can no longer care for their child but is still around, talk with them about the expectations of care. This is especially important if the situation is temporary and the child will return to them.

With love, patience, and care, you will be able to make your new household a warm place for the child to be.

Resource

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/info-08-2011/grandfamilies-guide-getting-started.html

By Andrea Rizzo, MFA
Source: Raising a Family Member’s Children: www.just-kids.ca/linksandresources/HANDBOOK%20-%20BC%20-%20FINAL.pdf; When Family Members Are Your Child's Caregiver: www.verywell.com/when-relatives-are-your-childs-caregiver-617042
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, LMFT, EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Think about:

  • Your new family dynamic
  • House rules
  • Financial and legal issues

There are many reasons why you might be caring for a family member’s child. It could be through a divorce, death, jail time, job relocation, or a short-term event, like a deployment. You might be single or have a family of your own. Whatever the reason, and whatever your current household is like, you can be sure that the new family dynamic will have its hard moments. You might be taking in a child, multiple children, and even the parent.

A new family dynamic

Bringing a new child into the fold can be hard. Based on the child’s age, you might need to alter your home to be safer for a toddler. Or you might try to add a more private space to let a teen have a bit of freedom. If you are single or with a partner but have no kids, it will be a learning curve to get used to the child, children, and/or extra adult. If you have other kids in the house, it will take an even more delicate approach.

Don’t expect bonds to form right away. It’s going to take some time for the child to get to know you or your family and vice versa—even if she has been to your home many times before. It is one thing to visit, but another thing to live somewhere full time. There might be some feelings of being left behind by the parents through divorce, death, or abuse, and potential trust issues with adults. It’s very likely that the child will act out to get attention.

It might also be hard for the parent, if you are taking them in as well. It can be embarrassing to depend on another family. There can be pride issues or feelings of guilt for not being able to give enough. If it’s due to a divorce, abuse, or jail time, the parent might be reeling from the emotional pain from their last relationship.

House rules

Whether the situation is for a short time or forever, you need to set up house rules. If fitting, talk with the parent to get a sense of what the ground rules were like at his last home. Note what rules you need to make your household run smoothly. Think about:

  • Who does what chores and why?
  • During what time will homework be done?
  • When is bedtime?
  • What will the weekends look like, especially if there is visitation with the other parent?

If the child is at a negotiating age, involve him in the talk. Telling him “just because” won’t help him to feel wanted as a family member. Give consequences if the rules are not followed. Structure is helpful for both the kids and you.

Financial and legal Issues

Finances are a big issue when it comes to raising another child. If your family member is still alive and able to help, make a reasonable budget with which they can contribute. Think about:

  • What does your current budget look like?
  • What extra costs will you have with rent, groceries, and utilities?
  • What school fees will come up in the form of tuition, uniforms, and/or supplies?
  • How will the other parent—if around—help with these costs?

If the parent is living with you as well and can work, factor their income into the budget. Kids can be costly. But there are also local programs that can help with food, clothing, health care, and school fees.

As far as legal issues, be clear how long you will have the child and under what conditions. It might be for a short time and a verbal contract will do. If the parent has died or will be gone entirely, you might want to go through a legal adoption to secure guardianship. Or if it’s likely brief but there is no real timeline, you will want to get some sort of legal guardianship so you can make choices about schooling and more. The resources below are a good place to start.

Keep in mind that this situation is not only hard on you and your family, but can be very hard on the biological parent(s). Some have to give kids up due to drug and alcohol problems, military deployment, or even temporary jobs. If the parent can no longer care for their child but is still around, talk with them about the expectations of care. This is especially important if the situation is temporary and the child will return to them.

With love, patience, and care, you will be able to make your new household a warm place for the child to be.

Resource

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/info-08-2011/grandfamilies-guide-getting-started.html

By Andrea Rizzo, MFA
Source: Raising a Family Member’s Children: www.just-kids.ca/linksandresources/HANDBOOK%20-%20BC%20-%20FINAL.pdf; When Family Members Are Your Child's Caregiver: www.verywell.com/when-relatives-are-your-childs-caregiver-617042
Reviewed by Marissa Eggert, LMFT, EAP Workplace Consult, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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