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The changing role of grandparents in raising our kids

| May 6, 2021 | Child Custody And Child Protection Matters

Divorce, family crises and other issues often lead to grandparents assuming the primary parenting role for their grandchildren. While some pursue adoption to validate the relationship legally, many others provide that care informally.

Reasons grandparents assume the primary parenting role

While many factors exist for grandparents taking over raising their grandkids, most are related to difficulties that prevent parents from effectively providing that care. These include:

  • Parental substance abuse
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Physical or mental illness
  • Child disability
  • Unemployment
  • Military deployment
  • Abandonment
  • Death of one or both parents
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Incarceration

Challenges grandparents face for raising grandchildren

When grandparents assume the primary parenting role for their grandkids, they can face several obstacles, and the responsibilities can feel overwhelming. These include:

  • Legal: Obtaining custody or guardianship can be an uphill battle.
  • Financial: Providing adequate care can be difficult if income is limited.
  • Parenting: Updating their parenting skills can be challenging.
  • Health: Parenting can add more stress to their physical and mental well-being.
  • Social: Raising grandkids can remove them from their own network of friends and support.
  • Family: Dynamics with their own children and other grandparents can lead to conflict.

Support groups and other services and providers are available to help grandparents meet these challenges. However, some may be disinclined to seek help, while others may be unaware of how to find these resources.

The benefits often outweigh the challenges

Despite the demands placed upon grandparents in these situations, many look at it as a labor of love and find the effort extremely rewarding. Most say they experience joy and satisfaction for striving to give their grandkids a better life.

Grandchildren benefit greatly by having a stable and loving home environment. Psychologists say studies show kids raised by grandparents have better cognitive and behavioral outcomes than those who remain in households full of conflict and disruption.