The number of grandparents who are raising their children is not a new phenomenon. However, the statistics are showing that it is a situation that is becoming more and more common.
Statistics Regarding Grandparents Raising GrandchildrenThe Brookdale Grandparent Caregiver Information Project based at the University of California at Berkeley Center on Aging has said that in the last 10 years, the number of children living with their grandparents has increased by 50 percent.
Gretchen Livingston: "In 2011, 7.7 million children in the U.S. – one-in-ten — were living with a grandparent, and approximately 3 million of these children were also being cared for primarily by that grandparent."
Source: Gretchen Livingston. "At Grandmother's House We Stay." PewSocialTrends.org. 9/04/2013.
According to a survey by AARP, 31% of adults are grandparents. Of that number, 8% are providing day care on a regular basis, and 3% are rearing a grandchild. The 2000 U.S. Census reports that 6.3% of US children under 18, 4.5 million, live in grandparent-headed households. There are no parents present in the lives of about one-third of these children. In 2005, a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau noted that the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren had risen to nearly six million kids or about 8 percent of kids in the U.S.
This isn't something that just happens to a particular race or area or social class. It happens in all socioeconomic groups due to divorce, neglect, teen-age pregnancy, the death of the parents, incarceration, unemployment, abuse, alcohol or drug usage, or abandonment. It can happen to any couple.
Deborah Doucette, author of Raising Our Children's Children: Room in the Heart, writes "There are nearly three million grandparents raising over five million grandchildren in the U.S. --<i>officially. Those figures represent grandparents that have legal, physical, and financial responsibility for their grandchildren. But if you include grandparents who are head of households that include both birth parents and grandchildren, the figure climbs to seven million."
Negative Impact on Marriage of Raising Grand KidsWhen grandparents take on a parental role it affects many aspects of their married life. The following stresses can severely damage a marriage.
It is estimated that it takes about a year for a couple to adjust to the many changes that result from caring for grand kids on a full time basis.
- They feel more stressed due to concerns about their own health and finances.
- Housing may be an issue if they are living in a senior citizen complex.
- The issue of medical care for the children is difficult.
- There is the loss of time for themselves and their dream of retirement dies.
- Their social life and circle changes drastically.
- There is also an emotional toll. Feelings range from fear, anger, exhaustion, resentment, grief, and shame to thankfulness and joy. This type of stress can damage a marriage.
Deborah Doucette, Dr. Jeffrey R. LaCure: "Parenting attempted, at any stage, without mutual support and respect can break a marriage. Caregivers need to make their marriage a priority. They need to do this for themselves, and they need to do it for their grandchildren."
Source: Deborah Doucette, Dr. Jeffrey R. LaCure. Raising Our Children's Children: Room in the Heart. 2014. pg. 73.
Positive Impact on Marriage of Raising Grand KidsEven with these many negative stresses in their lives, many grandparents report that through it all, they feel a greater purpose for their lives.
Caring for their grandchildren makes them feel young and active. They say that the sacrifices are worth it.