GRANDPARENTS Raising Grandchildren (GRG) Trust NZ, with local support groups, offers excellent support to grandparents who unexpectedly find themselves in a position where they are needed to raise their grandchildren.

This is a life-changing situation for all involved and can leave one floundering as to where to start, while stress and family dynamics can add to this mix.

Your life may be turned upside-down and this includes the children caught in these circumstances.

We applaud you for opening your hearts and homes to your moko, but these are also unchartered waters, as through the passage of time parenting has changed, your finances may be already stretched, being older, your health may not be the same as when you were younger.

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Love in the heart has no boundaries, so we have therefore supplied some top tips to ease your journey. And it is a journey but it does not have to be done alone. There is help.

The "6 R's" which Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ have developed will assist you, no matter which part of this journey you are on. These are: Response, Rights, Relating, Rebuilding, Resolution and Resilience.

Response and Rights are the first two stages when the children first arrive.

Make sure you have a regular routine every day. These children need this for security and with your reassurance they will be fine, never put the parents down in front of the children, regardless as to how you feel, reassure them that their parents do love them, as this reflects to them that they were not the problem, as this is what they can sometimes think and this can have long-lasting effects.

Seek support. The GRG Trust is excellent, as it understands all your issues and you can get free resources and advice. The GRG handbook deals with all issues you face in your new role.

Sort out childcare and schooling as quickly as possible for stability.

Ask what financial support is available for you. Work and Income can assist or Child Youth and Family if they have "orders" over the children.

Seek legal advice if necessary. Your local Community Law office may be able to assist, a lawyer or your local Family Court or if Child Youth and Family have "orders" over the children, consult with them and make sure you get their Caregiver Handbook.

Keep your home a "safe" home. If parents have access and there is conflict it is not advisable to have visits in your home.

Join a local GRG support group so you are not isolated and can share with others.

Relating and Rebuilding: Settling and beginning to move on

GRG Trust has free DVDs addressing the issues of trauma and parenting advice, made for NZ grandparents and featuring some GRG members. We suggest that when an issue arises for you, watch that particular segment. Seek out parenting courses to support you.

Some children may need counselling or specialist advice - seek out that assistance.

Keep your grandchildren busy, join sports or arts groups and remember yourself in this too. GRG Trust can also advise you of free respite care camps. These are advertised in its monthly newsletter.

Resolution and Resilience: New challenges and sustainability.

As children reach puberty it can bring up a myriad of issues for our children who may have had trauma in their formative years. Again seek out professional assistance, there are also many community organisations that run grief and loss and anger management courses.

-For your resilience see if you can attend a SALT Course run by GRG Trust (Sharing and Learning Together) take time out as you are important too.

Read everything you can lay your hands on, as many of our children may develop unexpected issues which may not manifest in the early years, but present in later years, there is help out there and understanding for you.

Last but not least, be proud of them but also yourselves.

To connect with the Whanganui Support Group, contact Jenny Morton, phone 027 443 7780 or email jaydeez@clear.net.nz

For the GRG Trust NZ visit www.grg.org.nz

For more great positive parenting tips contact Liza and Lynette at skipwhanganui@xtra.co.nz or txt/ph 027 626 1404. Check out the free SKIP resources on www.skip.org.nz