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RoseRed135

Why Are So Many Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren?

21 posts in this topic

The number of grandparents raising grandchildren has increased significantly, in recent times, as these boards have shown. The same, to some degree, with others raising relative kids, especially, aunts-and-uncles, and great-grandparents. Why do you think that is?

 

Please post your reply below. It can be long or short and please feel free to draw on your own experience or observations if you'd like.

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This is an interesting topic Rose. I guess my first question is - do you mean sharing in the responsibility of raising their grandchildren or fully raising them without the parents around?

 

I think the answer to your question could be any number of things to be honest.

 

Alot of young adults and even not-so-young adults are returning to their parents' homes with their children in tow, or their parents are moving in with them, due to the economy. As a result, even when parents are responsible and continue to parent the way they should, a certain amount of natural help comes from the grandparents just from living under the same roof. Under more extreme circumstances, grandparents may be picking up full time childcare, or afterschool care, . Or in some cases, if the parents aren't responsible, the grandparents are picking up a lot more than they bargained for.

 

I don't know statistics, but often times when parents are drug users or alcoholics, grandparents are go-to people. Especially if the children are already familiar with them and they are considered a safe place to land. Unfortunately they may think they are walking into a temporary situation and it becomes a permanent one.

 

Adult children may begin to use their parents as help now and then, and then now and then becomes more and more frequent, and then they are gone more than they are around. Because they enjoy the freedom more than being a parent - no other reason just that. (of all of these, this is the one that I just don't understand, no excuse for any of the above, really...but this one has me shaking my head)

 

Mental illness - I don't know that there has been an actual increase in mental illness itself but maybe in the diagnosis and treatment? And when adults go off of their meds or can't regulate their meds, (or won't take meds when needed) if there isn't another parent around to pick up the slack, often times kids end up with their grandparents while their parent levels off. Sometimes they just don't level off.

 

I think there are probably as many reasons as there are stories.

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I just heard on the news this morning that my town has now started a support group for GP's raising their GK's.  We have a lot of drugs and meth in our area I think that might have been where most of ours started.

When I was young a cigarette or a glass of beer was the worst you could get into, now there is all the drugs and stuff.

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@ BEG - Glad you like this topic! And I suppose the question could be answered with regards to either of the phenomenon you mention. Both situations have been on the rise. In fact, as I understand it, according to the Population Reference Bureau, over 5 million children,  in this country, today, are living in homes, headed by a GP. Most of those include one or more of the kids' parents ("multigenerational households") but in about 1 million of those, the GPs are raising their GC, with no parent present.("skipped generation household").

 

I think it's easier to explain why the first syndrome is occurring - as you said, yourself, a lot has to do with the economy. The reason for the increase in the 2nd pattern is harder to pinpoint, IMO. But as you say, there may be a myriad of reasons.

 

@ critter - No doubt, the prevalence of drugs in many places and walks of life has a lot to do with that 2nd phenomenon. Regardless, I'm glad to hear about that support group. It almost goes w/o saying, I think, that GPs raising their GKs need it.

 

And, of course, I hope that many of them continue to find the support they need here, too. :)

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Just before our DD was born (over 30 yrs ago) a friends daughter had a baby, wasn't married and didn't have a job. She was attending college. She and the father along with the paternal grandmother took the baby to the girls grandparents. Both parents signed papers so the GGPs could obtain medical services for the seemingly healthy baby. The years rocked along, the young couple broke up. The dad wanted to marry another young lady and he signed away his paternal rights. The young mom wanted to relocate to another area of the country and she signed away her rights.

The GGPs kept the baby, paid for his medical needs out of their own pocket for many years. The baby had asthma and allergies and they relocated for the child's health. Now the child is a teenager and the GGF decides to retire. Their income is limited and a lawyer friend suggests that they legally adopt the child so he would be covered by their insurance as a true dependent. Of course both parents had signed away their rights years ago, the child knew no other 'parents' since a few days old and the courts had no problem with the adoption of this teenager. His name never changed nor any other aspects of his life. He had always called them Mom and Dad even though they had taught him who 'his mother' was. His father requested that they not share his information even though he had provided his family medical history years before.

This was a case of two college students having no interest whatsoever in raising a child, and a set of great-grandparents who wanted them to have an opportunity to change their minds, which they never did. When this GGM began to have age related medical problems, it was this young man who took her into his home with his young wife and newborn child to care for. He nor his lovely young wife, would consider any other 'family member' taking care of his MOTHER.

The 'real mom' finally got married in her late 30's, but never had other children. She would visit her grandparents ever year or so.

Sometimes, I truly believe that this all works out for the best all the way around.

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Wow, Sue! Quite a story! I'm glad to see that this young man was raised with love and received good care, despite his parents' lack of interest or concern. TG for those GGPs!

 

It always boggles my mind when parents are so disinterested in their child! And when none of the GPs can/will step in (I realize, sometimes it's just an unfortunate set of circumstances), nor any aunts and uncles (if any) and the care falls to the GGPs! We've had 3 or 4 GGMs come in here, in the past, though I don't think I've seen them since the new site opened/don't think they "made the jump," for whatever reason. And I believe I've mentioned b4 that my parents had full care of a great-nephew for about 5 years b4 his dad took him to live with him (his dad was always in the picture though). The GPs were all either, sadly, deceased or unable and/or just unwilling to take on the job of raising another child and none of the aunts or uncles were old enough (the parents, in this case, were college-age, also, when baby was born). And yet, still, this situation always astounds me!

 

And yes, sometimes "this all works out for the best all the way around." The parents don't have to carry out a responsibility they can't/don't want to have. The child is loved and cared for, anyhow. And the GPs - or GGPs or great-aunts-and-uncles, or whoever - have an additional person who loves them and is there for them, one way or another, in their old age. And sometimes, the child eventually goes to live with one or both of their parents but still maintains a warm, loving relationship with the GPs or other relatives who raised them for so long. Or they reunite with one or both parents when they grow up, w/o it damaging their relationship with the family members who were there for them all those years.

 

But not always, as I'm sure you know. Sometimes, on these boards, I've heard about cases where the parent, finally ready and willing to take their child back (a good thing, in itself, of course), tries to downplay the GP/other relative's role in the child's life and push them away or cut them off. And sometimes, I've heard of cases where the GP/relative tries to undermine the child's relationship with the parents and the parents CO the GP/relative to save their "new" family unit. Still other times, I've read of a kid reunites with the "missing" parent when they're older and, unfortunately, turning against the GPs/relatives who raised them.

 

And all of this is giving me an idea for a new thread...

 

But, anyhow, I'm glad you showed us. Sue, that a story with such a seemingly sad beginning can have a happy middle and ending. :) And that you illustrated for us how this can happen w/o drugs or alcohol being involved.

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I agree drug use could be a factor. Seems like I read thatmany have parents in the military who are deployed.

I am raising my granddaughters because both parents have intellectual disabilities and don't have the parenting skills necessary to raise a child. Thirty years ago, they would have been steralized.

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@ gga - Do you think that really would have been true 30 years ago? In the early 1980s? I'm wondering if you don't mean 40 or 50 years ago?

 

 @ All - Regardless, I think this conversation is beginning to show that, as BEG suggests, "there are as many reasons" for these situations "as there are stories."

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I worked with a lady who had her "special ed" daughter sterilized in her early 20's about 20 years ago.  Of course, the daughter had to sign the permission slip herself since she was over 18.

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@ Sue - Interesting piece of info. Thanks!

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It was still happening in institutions when I started working with that population in 1981.

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Wow, gga! I didn't realize that. Did they have to give consent, though, like the woman whose mom Sue worked with? Or was it just done?

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Unpinning this now to make room for something else. But please feel free to carry on the conversation!

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I think drugs play a major part in this problem we are having w/GP raising GHD.

 

Then you have young girls pregnant who think it's OK but realize after the birth it's not fun and games any more so let Mommy do it.

 

Many times you have a girl who has a boy or man who doesn't want to do his part and she is trying her best but it doesn't work out so well, so she has to turn to Mommy again.

 

I personally think most of it has to due w/drugs and alcohol and unwanted pregnancies. They don't want to give the baby up, but they don't want to take care of it either. 

 

So very sad for our future generation what drugs and alcohol are doing to their future. The ones that do have a relative to care for them in a loving home are fortunate, others are not, they are the ones who really suffer the consequences of their parents  behavior.

 

 SO SAD !!       :(  

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Well, no doubt, drugs and alcohol play a large role in this problem, gifts. I'd like to think it's only going to seriously impact a relatively small part of the littlest generation, though. Just as I'm sure there are some moms who want and care for their unplanned babies. Still, I can't get away from the fact that, as I said in my OP, the numbers of GPs raising GC are definitely growing.  And yes, it is sad.

Edited by rosered135
for clarity

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Well, actually, I guess, it's a mixed bag - sad, of course, that this is happening, but good to see that so many GPs (and other relatives) are ready, willing and able to step up to the plate when it does!

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Thought I'd bring this thread up again to see if there were any other thoughts on the original question. Or on any other factors that came up in this conversation.

 

Anyone?

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Our daughter in law recently passed away at 37 from a heart attack. My husband and I moved from 3 hours away to help our Son raise our 6 yr old Grandson. We just put our house up for sale and here we are. Such a sad situation. I am beside myself. I am 64 and feel totally useless. I am a nervous wreck but doing the best I can. So so sad for all of us. How do we get thru this??

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Oh, Sharon, my heart breaks for you and yours! My deepest condolences to you and DH (dear husband) on the loss of your DIL (daughter-in-law) and even more so to DS (dear son) on the loss of his wife and GS (grandson) on the loss of his mother. What a shock this sudden tragedy must have been to all of you! 

 

Bravo to you and DH for picking up so quickly, selling your house and moving to be there for DS and GS! No doubt, that wasn't easy to do! It's quite a sacrifice, IMO, but I know you did it for your DS and that precious little boy.

 

Of course, you are terribly sad - for your DS, your GS and even the sudden loss of your home and way of life. I admit, I was confused by the words 'besides myself," at first. But then it occurred to me this may be part of your grieving - not just for DIL but for the pain and disruption your whole family is experiencing. Again, I'm am so very sorry!

 

Not sure why you're feeling "totally useless," however. Or why you're a "nervous wreck." Can you explain?

 

Regardless, one way to "get thru this" is via grief counseling, whether you all go or just you, for starters. Hopefully, too, reaching out to us will help, as well. Trust me, you're not the only one here who has been in this kind of situation.  I'm sure you'll soon hear from more posters and get a lot of support here.

 

As for me, my thoughts and prayers (if that's ok) are with you and yours...

 

ETA: Just want to add that if those are your fist and last names in your username, you may want to change it for greater privacy. If so,  just click on http://www.grandparents.com/profile and change your name where shown. You must sign/log out and then sign/log back in again to make sure the change takes full effect.

 

If you do this, immediately, it will be obvious, of course. However, generally speaking please always let a moderator or administrator know if you change your name (just click on their name and then Send a Message and go from there. Or mention it in a post.) Thank you. :)

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Welcome Sharon, I am so sorry these tragic circumstances have brought you to our site.

I also send my condolences to you and your family.

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Since I see that we have some new GPs on the site who are raising their GC, I thought I'd bring this thread up to the front, once again. But please feel free to post your opinion, whether you're raising your GC/relative kids or not.

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