The well‐being of children in informal kinship care and their caregivers is a growing concern globally. This study explored the lived experiences of 23 kin caregivers raising children left behind in rural Northeast China while their migrant parents worked and lived in cities. The findings show that the expected authority and responsibility caregivers carry sometimes conflict with their social role of being children's grandparents. Caregivers' feelings about and understandings of these roles are shaped through their social interactions in local communities. In view of their situation and caregivers' self‐conscious attitudes towards utilizing local resources, future formal service provision and social support should take caregivers' viewpoints into account. These views are embedded in and shaped by their rural living context and relationships with community members who influence caregivers' perceptions and child rearing practices.