As of the 2000 Census, there were 2.4 million grandparents responsible for the care of their children’s children; some of you may even know people who are raising great-grandchildren (I know at least one family who has committed to this challenging task).
Sometimes Nanny and Pop-Pop are just stepping in to lend a hand to parents who are working long hours, traveling for business, or perhaps renovating a home. There are probably dozens of arrangements out there, ranging from a few hours of “free babysitting” a month to a daily, scheduled commitment to a full-time, 24-7/365 primary caregiver.
Regardless of the reason (i.e. drug abuse, incarceration, medical necessity, death), Grandma-turned-Mama is not an easy part to play, even though they can draw from a deep well of parenting experience. There are certainly advantages and benefits to being in this position; as my friend who is raising her great-granddaughter has pointed out: “We all take naps at the same time,” she says, “And because we’re retired, we can focus entirely on her care. We’re not fixing up our house, taking kids to soccer practice or piano lessons, or juggling other tasks/responsibilities.” She also believes that there are benefits to her great-granddaughter’s character development, saying, “She is very loving, gentle, and comfortable around older people, and she’s very polite too.”
Now, this family may not be juggling stressful jobs, home renovations, or navigating the storms of the teen years, but the reality is this: they are in their mid-70’s and are facing personal health challenges that certainly make caring for an active, energetic 2½ -year-old beyond exhausting. Thankfully, they have the support and help of their adult children, and my husband and I have clocked a few babysitting hours there too. They’re managing the role with grace and love, but like life & parenting at any age, there are good days and bad days.
If you’re new to the role of a grandparent raising grandkids, in the midst of it, or facing a potential change in the future which might mean a title transfer from Granddad to Dad, check out these resources:
USA.gov/Topics/Grandparents.shtml – On this comprehensive site you’ll find just about everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to raising grandchildren.
Raisingyourgrandchildren.com/ – This site, which includes a blog, is maintained by Karen Wright, who has personal experience with raising grandchildren.
Childwelfare.gov/preventing/supporting/resources/grandparents.cfm – On this site, there are links to several other great resources, like AARP’s Grandparent Information Center and an outstanding organization called Generations United.
Extension.org/pages/Grandparents_Raising_Grandchildren_-_Doubly_Stressed_Triply_Blessed – Here’s a well-named primer from Penn State University, with video clips and tons of helpful tips and information for GRG (Grandparents Raising Grandchildren) families.
Sandwichink.com/- We couldn’t leave out one of our favorites, SandwichINK. Kaye Swain’s site is for members of the Sandwich Generation who are balancing the responsibilities of caregiving for aging parents and babysitting the grandkids. She offers great advice for both sides of the spectrum.
Your turn: Are you a grandparent raising grandkids/great-grandkids? Share your experiences here.