Why are so many grandchildren living with their grandparents in the U.S.? There are many factors and reasons that are affecting our society including divorce, drug use, physical and mental illness, abandonment, child abuse, teen pregnancy, neglect, incarceration, and death. Each situation has many layers and dimensions to it.
“In 2011, one-in-ten (children) were living with a grandparent,” Gretchen Livingston, of the Pew Research Center, said. The term “skipped-generation children” means that neither of their parents are living with them. Instead, the children are living with grandparents or in some other living arrangement.
These grandparents have all the responsibilities of a parent in terms of providing care, basic needs, and schooling. Grandparents today need our support, guidance, educational assistance, and financial assistance.
Can you imagine starting your life over at the age of 50 or 60 with a new baby, preschooler, or school-aged child? It is not only physically exhausting but mentally, emotionally, and financially difficult to do on a daily basis.
The real life challenges that come with grandparenting and raising a grandchild include financial factors such as having to support a family when they were not expecting to, covering the cost of medical expenses, having to rearrange living situations, and any plans for retirement may be put on hold. Not to mention aging grandparents are sometimes not physically capable to keep up with younger children.
Although we have named numerous hardships for grandparents, the positive side of taking on the responsibility of raising a grandchild can make one feel young, vibrant, active, and worthy. This can create a new found purpose and meaning in their life.
Although it can be an enlightening experience, some assistance may be necessary. Ideas and strategies for helping grandparents would be to provide parenting courses, grandparent support groups, offer updated skills in technology, and working with the schools and communities within their neighborhoods.
If you would like to share a story with us please feel free to let us know what your experience may be in raising a grandchild in today’s world.