A recent Woman’s Day magazine article discussed “grandfamilies” or households in which grandparents fill the role of parent for their grandchildren and how these situations are becoming more common. The article cited a number of factors contributing to the need for this arrangement, including a rise in drug use between 2002 and 2012; a 25% jump in the number of young parents imprisoned between the years 1997 and 2007, and a recent recession which left many people without work. Whatever the reason, there are more grandparents parenting their grandchildren than one may think.(1)
The 2010 Census showed that one out of every ten children in this country lives with a grandparent. That Census also disclosed that in the U.S.
- 7 million grandparents have at least one grandchild under the age of 18 living with them;
- Of those grandparents, 2.7 million were caregivers, meaning they were in charge of providing the basic needs for their grandchildren;
- A little more than half of the caregiving grandparents – 1.7 million – were still actively employed;
- About 670,000 of those caregiving grandparents had a disability.(2)
Custodial grandparents come from all walks of life representing all socio-economic strata and ethnicities. And, while stepping up to fulfill a need in a child’s life may be admirable, it does not come without risks.
Oftentimes these arrangements occur when parents face some type of tragedy – loss of job, imprisonment, addiction – and, when these troubles are resolved, they look to regain custody of their children, sometimes leading to contentious or strained relationships between parent, child and grandparent. In order to preserve their relationships with their grandchildren, custodial grandparents are often urged to legalize these relationships.(3) Continue reading