Being a grandparent is one of the best things this side of heaven. Each grandparent thinks their grandchildren are the cutest in the world. Their grandchildren are the smartest, so much smarter than their children were at that age. When grandchildren come to visit, grandparents give them almost anything they desire. They let them do whatever their hearts can imagine and more. This is so true for the preteen grandchildren. As they grow into teenage years it’s another story. Grandparents love grandchildren because after all the fun they have, the food they have eaten, the playing they have done and much more they are packed up and sent home to their parents. Grandparents can then go back to whatever they want to do–they’ve earned it.
Some grandparents can’t send their grandchildren home to their parents because they have become the parents. There have always been grandparents that raised their grandchildren for some reason. There was always Big Mama Susie, Granny Louise, Paw Paw, Daddy James and more who took on the role of raising a grandchild.
In the state of Texas alone there are approximately 823,750 children under the age of 18 living in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives with the majority living with grandparents.
According to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheets there are over 315,000 grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Of those:
- 67% are under the age 60
- 62% are still in the workforce
- 23% live in poverty
- 23% have a disability
- 26% are unmarried (grandchildren are living with a single parent)
These grandparents having raised their children have once again taken on the responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of a home, schedules, meals, homework, play dates and more. These items may seem simple, but homework is not the same as it was a generation ago. Years ago play dates consisted of going outside and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. There was no scheduling of activities. Birthday parties consisted of cake, punch and a few games in the backyard or den. There was no social media, cell phones and internet. In addition to time, the majority of these things carry a monetary component.
The grandparents who are raising their grandchildren now have to redo their lives, their dreams and much more. They have to give up their independence and start all over again. Their finances will ultimately take a hit, and retirement may not be in the picture in the near future. That dream of finally starting their own business has again become just a dream.
All of this is not to say that grandparents do not cherish their grandchildren, it’s just that their lives or at least the idea of what their lives should look like at this stage of life will have to change. Their new normal is not the normal they day dreamed about.
There are programs that will assist the grandparents in their new role as primary parents. At my church a senior group meets once a month to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of raising grandchildren when you thought you would only see them on the weekends. It allows the grandparents to learn from others who are in similar situations, and to give guidance to those that need it .
In every state there are organizations that will assist those that are raising children for the second time. AARP has great information in the Grandfacts sheets for the United States and for your state. There are local programs that can assist also.
Grandparents may need a little help when raising grandchildren. Those that take on this task are indeed “grand”. Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and just in case you didn’t know my grandchild is the cutest and smartest.