Stepping up when addiction leaves your child unable to parent

| Jun 24, 2021 | Family Law |

Parenting is often a thankless job. Assuming responsibility for someone else’s well-being frequently means making personal sacrifices that no one even acknowledges. After you have given much to raise your children to adulthood, watching your grandchildren grow can feel like your reward for all that hard work.

You get all of the joy of a close relationship while also seeing your child experience parenthood. Sadly, some grandparents don’t get to just be the doting family member who spoils the kids. Instead, they have to watch in concern as their child struggles with addiction.

Opioid abuse in Pennsylvania has serious effects on families. Parents who become dependent on opioid painkillers due to an injury or illness may struggle to stop taking the medication and could also struggle with the basic responsibilities of parenting. Grandparents often have to make a difficult decision when they watch their child dealing with substance abuse.

An addicted parent sometimes can’t fulfill their duties

Someone struggling with substance abuse may not intend to neglect their children, but that could be the result of their chemical dependence. They may not respond appropriately to events around them while they are under the influence. They may lose track of their children or their sense of time.

Children might have no one checking to make sure they get home from school or making them dinner. Kids growing up in such situations often have to grow up and become the parents for their addicted mothers or fathers.

As a grandparent, you don’t want to see your children or grandchildren struggle like that. You may need to consider stepping up into a more parental role for your grandchildren until your child gets their addiction under control.

Grandparents can seek foster placement or even adoption

In scenarios where a parent loses custody, the courts and state agencies helping children in Pennsylvania will typically prioritize family placement above placement with strangers in the foster care system.

You may be able to open your home to your grandchildren in an emergency. You may also be able to adopt them after placement or when your child winds up incarcerated. Understanding when you can step up as a grandparent can help you be there for the vulnerable people that depend on you during a difficult time.