A growing number of America’s children are being parented by their grand parents or in Grandfamilies. This phenomenon has many different causes-some of them being divorce. If something happens to the head of a single parent household, another primary caregiver is needed. Sometimes the non-custodial parent is unwilling or unable to raise his or her children. This leaves the grandparent (often a single parent him or herself) to raise another generation of children.
Between 1970 and 2000 the number of grandparent headed families raising children under the age of 18 has nearly doubled. Many Grandparents rescue their grandchildren from foster care when their parents can not care for them. According to a report called Mind the Gap: “The increase of grandparents raising grandchildren has been attributed to the crack-cocaine epidemic, AIDS, and incarceration. Grandparents may become responsible for their grandchildren for other reasons as well, such as parental death or neglect.” (p. 2). Currently, according to the same report 2.4 million grandparents are the primary caregiver for their children, and only 73% of those families are married. While this marriage statistic is slightly higher than for their own children’s generation, it can create a lot more complications.
As single parents we know that it takes a lot of energy to raise children. According to the above mentioned figures-27% of these grandparents are either for the first time or again-single parents. This can be very problematic in meeting the special needs of the grand family. The grandparent might have been looking forward to retirement, but must stay on in the work force for several more years in order to help raise the grandchild. It must be extremely exhausting for grandparents to be the primary caregivers again.
Kudos and hats off to all the grandparents who are stepping up to the plate to make life better for your grand kids. You are truly a blessing to another generation of people.
For information on how to help grand families go to the AARP website, which offers a database of available local resources.