Whether it’s for a temporary or extended period of time, recent studies show a rising trend among active adults who are raising their grandkids. This occurs across all socioeconomic groups for a variety of reasons. Each family is unique, but these cases often involve painful situations including divorce, unemployment, incarceration, abandonment, substance abuse, neglect, or death. In coping with the problems that face their families, many active adults find themselves thrust back into a parenting role, but this time for the care of their grandchildren.
More Grandparents Are Raising Their Grandchildren
For the first time, the 2000 U.S. Census included the number of grandparents primarily responsible for the basic needs of their grandchildren. The results reported 2.4 million grandparents in that situation. Of those grandparents, about one-third were stepping in when there was no parent in the home. In 2005, a survey by the U.S. Census found that the number of grandparents raising their grandkids was around six million, which is about eight percent of the kids in the United States.
There are both positive and negative aspects to a situation where grandparents are raising their grandkids. Having already experienced raising their own children, some active adults feel better equipped to parent their grandchildren. They may feel that stepping into a parental role helps them feel young and stay active as well, and some grandparents report feeling an increased sense of purpose in their lives.
Concerns About Raising Grandchildren
While these phenomenal grandparents may be making the best of the situation, they cannot ignore the inherent obstacles and negative consequences. While there are many different situations that make it necessary for grandparents to raise their grandkids, the situations are generally not ideal. By taking on parenting responsibilities, active adults sometimes miss out on the fun of being the doting grandparent. They also miss out on many of the freedoms that they expected to have at this stage in their lives.
It is common for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren to feel some resentment over the situation. The normal stress of parenting can strain their marriages or other relationships. Their relationship with their child often becomes an additional source of stress and frustration.
There are many practical concerns that will arise as well, such as the burden of unplanned financial expenses. This is particularly true for active adults who are retired or semi-retired before taking in their grandchildren. For grandparents who live in an age-restricted community, housing may also become an issue. Most age-restricted communities have limits on how long children can visit, and residents who find themselves responsible for the indefinite care of their grandchildren may have to face relocating. When choosing a new home, active adults who want the amenities of an active adult community without the limitations of an age-restriction may opt an active lifestyle community.
It is important that active adults who find themselves in the position of raising their grandkids learn all that they can about the resources available to help them. Online resources, such as RaisingYourGrandchildren.com, are designed to help grandparents cope with their situation, learn more about their legal rights, and talk to other grandparents who are in similar situations.