This paper discusses the difficulties, benefits, causes and other such factor related to the topic of grandparents acting as parent to their grandchildren.
Grandparents who raise their grandchildren have become prevalent as an alternative family.(Bert, 2005) It is reported that 5.7 million children are living with their grandparents out of which 3.7 million live in grandparents household. Various factsheets reveal that there thousands of grandparents in United States taking care of their grandchildren due to numerous reasons. It is not an easy task to identify the exact number of grandparents raising their grandchildren without a parent due to informal relationships. With rising divorces, death of parents, disability, inability to care for their children, have increased the number of grandchildren being raised by grandparents.
Kleiner et. al (1998) has classified grandparents into three sub groups as custodial grandparents, caregivers and day care parents. Casper & Bryson (1998) Custodial grand parenting is growing trend in American society with some 5.5 million grandparents have reported to be housing their own grandchildren in the year 1997. (Bert, 2005) It is also reported that the ages of most of the grandparents are between 55 and 64 years and 20% are over 65 years. Caregiver is explained as 'living with' grandparents who provide daily care but do not have legal custody. In such cases, grandparents focus on providing the child with economically and emotionally stable environment. The another classification 'day care' grandparents focus on helping the child's parent and function closest to societal function of grandparent.
Causes for Grandparents Acting as Grandparents
According to American Community Survey, 6.1 million grandparents are engaged in parenting activity in respect to their grandchild. 8% of grandchildren lived with their grandparent in the year 2006 in United States. (US Census Bureau, 2006) Grandparent after retiring from parenting activities after their child has settled well, if resumes the parenting job again, it needs a lot of careful thinking on the topic. Grandparents usually accept the task out of natural love and affection towards their grandchildren and would not accept the role of stranger in raising their grandchildren. (www.cornellcares.org)
Most of the causes would revolve around the normal parents. Most of the statistics reveal that drug or alcohol abuse among natural parents is the main cause for inviting grandparent to step in and take over the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. It has been reported that in 1998 nearly 44% of youngsters were living with their grandparents because of their parents' substance abuse. And interestingly 28% were victims of child abuse, neglect or improper attention and 11% because of death of their any one or both of the parents. (www.egyptianaaa.org) Various reasons include ill health of their parents, or inability of parents to take the responsibility of their child, divorce, unexpected pregnancy of teen or adult child, etc. The reasons why the grandparents are acting as parents may vary on various factors.
Difficulties of Grandparents to raise their child
Many researches have been