When Grandparents are Primary Caregivers
Grandparents often look forward to those years when the main parental responsibilities are no longer theirs and they can just sit back and enjoy their grandchildren. In the last 30 years, there has been an startlingly increasing trend of grandparents taking on the role of primary caregiver for their grandchildren.
This can happen for a variety of reasons: illness, death, incarceration, drug use/abuse or neglect on the part of the parents.
New Census Information on Grandfamilies
According to 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau published by the AARP:
• “4.9 million children (7 percent) under age 18 live in grandparent-headed households. That’s up from 4.5 million living in grandparent-headed households 10 years ago ...”
• “Approximately 20 percent of these children (964,579) have neither parent present and the grandparents are responsible for their basic needs. This is a decrease from 2000, when approximately one-third lived without parents ...”
• “51 percent of grandparents who have grandkids living with them are white (up from 46 percent in 2000); 24 percent are Black/African American (down from 28 percent in 2000); and 19 percent are Hispanic/Latino (down slightly from 20 percent in 2000) ... For grandparents reporting responsibility for grandchildren 67 percent are under age 60, which is down from 71 percent in 2000. And 20 percent live in poverty; up from 18.8 percent in 2000.”
Challenges of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Grandparents who take on the parental responsibilities of their grandchildren face unique challenges. They’re raising children where there is increased awareness and occurrences of learning disabilities and parenting styles and educational practices and technologies than when they were raising their children.
They have a whole lot to learn.
As well, the financial hardships that have struck many families in the last 10 years also affect grandparents as they’re nearing retirement or are already retired.