Foster Kinship.

Parenting your Relative: Staying Informed

Parenting your Relative: Staying Informed

Good parenting includes good communication. Staying informed on your child is key to parenting well. If you are a grandparent or other relative raising a relative’s child, you are parenting a child through a difficult time. Luckily, parenting is a skill that can always be improved upon, and one need not be the biological mother or father of the child to be a great parent.

It is important to be as informed as possible about three areas of the child’s life:

  1. School and Friends
  2. Health
  3. General Well Being

These are a list of questions you should know the answer to. Consider covering them in a scheduled “chat time” each week, and work to really listen to and communicate with your child (see previous articles on communication 1 & 2 for more).

School and Friends

  • Does your child like going to school? Do they get up easily and leave happily? Are they often sick or nervous before going to school? Do they come home happy?
  • Who are your child’s best friends? How does the child get along with children their own age? Are they introverted or extroverted?
  • What is your child’s favorite subject(s) in school? Favorite activities? What subjects does your child excel in most? What subject does your child have the most trouble with?


  • How is your child’s appetite?
  • When is the last time your child saw a doctor? Eye doctor? Dentist? Mental Health Specialist? Do you have the records?
  • Does your child have any trouble sleeping, falling asleep, staying asleep? Do they have nightmares? Do they wet the bed? Do they wake up happy? Are they tired during the day?
  • Does your child get frequent headaches or stomachaches?

General Well Being

  • Does your child have any specific fears?
  • What makes your child angry or frustrated? How does your child express their anger? Their frustration? How often are they angry/frustrated? Does your child have any tantrums? How do you handle your child when they have these emotions?
  • How does your child show happiness? How often are they happy?
  • How does your child show sadness? How often are they sad?
  • Has your child ever gone to therapy and if so, what was the result?

These are just a few questions to get you started. As you talk with your child, take note of their responses. Observe them closely in their daily lives and watch their patterns. Note changes in behavior, and ask questions when you talk to the child. Check your assessment against those of teachers, doctors and other individuals in your child’s life.

What other questions help you be a better parent?

Source: Empowering Grandparents Raising Grandchildren