Margaret has custody of her three grandsons. Jack is 10 years old, Nathaniel is seven, and Elijah is one. Margaret never intended to raise her grandkids. She was planning to keep them for a couple of months so that her daughter could turn her life around. But that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Margaret’s daughter promised to visit her kids while Margaret kept them, but most of the time she never showed up. This would always leave Jack, the oldest, heart-broken. Whenever this happened, Jack lashed out at his grandmother because he was hurting and missed his mother.
One time, Jack packed some of his clothes so that he could leave with his mother when she came to visit. Again, she didn’t show up. This time, Jack tried to run away to find her.
One time that she did show up, Jack told his mother that he wanted to leave with her. Margaret told him “no” because it was a school night. Very upset, Jack screamed, “Nana! I hate you! I wish you were dead!”
Margaret Finds Help
Those words broke Margaret’s heart. She was tired and overwhelmed and began to question why she was trying to raise her grandkids in the first place. Margaret began to doubt herself, thinking she wasn’t handling the situation well at all. She even thought about putting her grandkids in child protection services.
Margaret couldn’t sleep that night and called her family specialist from the Building Families program. Margaret had heard about the program over a year ago and had been working with a family specialist for a couple of weeks.
Margaret’s family specialist explained to Margaret why Jack yelled and said the mean things he said. The family specialist told Margaret that Jack was disappointed and knew he could lash out at Margaret because she has unconditional love for him. Margarete felt relieved and was able to rest easier that night.
The Path to Peace
Over the next few weeks, the family specialist helped Margaret develop and improve parenting skills that would help her parent in the difficult situation she found herself in. Margaret learned skills that helped her alleviate the power struggles between her and Jack. And the family specialist taught Margaret how to discipline and love at the same time.
The family specialist also used fun games to show Jack how to accept “no” for an answer instead of screaming and crying. Plus, Jack learned how to listen and follow directions.
The family specialist taught Margaret the importance of structure. Now, for the first time ever, Margaret and her grandkids have a routine. Jack’s teacher called Margaret one day to tell her she noticed a big difference in Jack’s behavior during class. Jack was doing much better following directions and staying in his seat. This was a huge step for him.
Words that Heal
Months later, Jack’s mother came to visit. She was upset and screaming at Margaret. Jack walked up to his mother and placed his little hands on her face and said, “Mommy, don’t say these things to my Nana. I love her, and she does everything for me.”
Tears rolled down Margaret’s face, confirming what the family specialist told her all along: Jack knows in his heart that his grandmother will always be there for him.
Margaret’s story is only one story that shows how the Building Families program is helping families across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Please visit the Give Now page to donate to the program. You can use the Building Families Program Referral Form to refer a family to the program or complete the form below if you have questions.