Summertime for some of our readers may be a time for family reunions or visits with grandchildren. But did you know there is a growing trend toward grandchildren living with grandparents full-time, with at least one grandparent acting in the parental or custodial
role? Currently in the U.S., there are 2.5 million grandchildren being raised by grandparents. In fact, there is an entire subculture, called Grandfamilies, that offers support for these
The challenges of raising grandchildren touch every aspect of a grandparent’s life:
Social – As any parent will tell you, when kids have to be in bed by 8:00, social life takes a backseat.
Emotional – While there is love, there may be some hard feelings about having to assume the parental responsibility.
Financial – Many seniors live on a fixed income, which was never meant to support a growing family.
Political – Social programs for children often compete on state budgets for programs for the
aged. Whose interests take precedence, and can a balance be struck?
Physical – Older grandparents may worry that their health is not good enough to keep up with the needs of kids, or that they’ll be hospitalized -or even die – while the child is young.
There are resources for Grandfamilies. A great starting place is the American Grandparents
Association, which publishes a “Guide To Grandparents Rights” in addition to many helpful articles about parenting again, working with schools, accessing Social Security dependent benefits, and how to handle it when your grandchild’s parent is absent or unreliable.
Remember, self-care is also crucial. You need to take care of yourself in order to be there for
another person. Get regular medical care, join a support group, reinforce social connections, get enough sleep and eat well. If you are raising grandchildren, you are not alone. You are setting an example and all of your positive role-modeling is valuable to your family.
U.S. Census Bureau, http://factfinder.census.gov.
“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” by Amy Goyer, from: AARP, August 31, 2011
Available at: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/info-08-2011/grandfamilies-guide-getting-started.html
www.grandparents.com (American Grandparents Association)