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Grand Parenting?

Tips for staying sane when rearing your grandchildren.

Solutions for the Stress

To reduce stress and stay healthy, keep up a schedule of regular medical checkups and ask your doctor for stress-reduction tips such as getting regular exercise. Ask about assistive devices such as motorized stair chairs and canes. Consider hiring a baby-sitter for a few hours a week.

Take advantage of resources tailored to grandparents who parent. AARP's Grandparent Information Center, (202) 434-2296, provides information along with referrals to 650 support groups. One member is Emma Belluomini, 62, who is raising her five-year-old great-granddaughter in a small Northern California town with her husband, Paul, 67. Group members have been supportive as the Belluominis have grappled with the decision of when and how to tell the little girl, who has never seen her parents, that her natural parents did not want the responsibility of raising her.

"We know that we are going to have to let her know what happened," Emma Belluomini says. "We're pretty scared about that. We don't want it to change her or affect her. She is such a happy child." With the group, she's sure they'll find an effective solution. Like other grandparents who parent, Belluomini has learned there is strength in numbers -- and workable solutions if she reaches out.

Stephen Gregory has been a journalist for 10 years and has worked for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and U.S. News & World Report.

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