Jody Tucker
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The Unsung Heroes: Grandparents Stepping Up to Raise Grandchildren

grandparents raising grandchildren

March 3, 2024

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In a world where the role of grandparents is often seen as one of support and occasional spoiling, there is a group of grandparents who put their plans aside to raise their grandchildren. I have come to accept that releasing our plans to the Lord and choosing to trust God’s sovereign plan for our life even when life turns out differently than envisioned is much more peaceful than feeling bitter about how life has led me down a detoured path. My husband and I are not just doting grandparents; we, along with so many other grandparents are stepping up to raise our grandchildren, in our case our granddaughter, when circumstances prevent the parents from doing so. In this post, I will provide resources and explore the facts and trends of grandparents who have taken on the full-time responsibility of parenting their grandchildren, and the incredible impact they are making. There are a growing number of grandparents taking on the parenting role for their grandchildren, thus foregoing the traditional grandparent/grandchild relationship. Currently, there are 18,126 grandparent households responsible for raising their grandchildren in Minnesota.

Grandma V

According to Generations United, the terms “grandfamilies” and “kinship families” are used interchangeably to mean families in which grandparents, other adult family members or close family friends are raising children with no parents in the home.

Grandparents and grandchildren

Did You Know?

According to the American Bar Association, a total of 7.8 million children live with a relative who is the head of the household. More than 2.5 million of these children are raised by kin without a birth parent in the home

These modern-day heroes face unique challenges as they navigate a journey they hadn’t anticipated. From coping with the emotional upheaval of disrupted family dynamics to adjusting to the demands of a new generation, they exhibit a strength and resilience that is truly remarkable. They provide stability, love, and guidance, making a profound difference in the lives of these children who might otherwise navigate a world of uncertainty.

Through personal experience, interviews with others and expert insights, I will delve into the reasons grandparents are stepping up, the obstacles they face, and the solutions they have found. Join me as I share our personal story and shine a light on these grandparents and celebrate their selfless commitment to the well-being and future of their grandchildren.

grandma and child window

Challenges Faced by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

While the rewards of raising grandchildren are plentiful, it is not without its challenges. Grandparents who step up to fill the parental role face a range of obstacles that can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. One of the most significant challenges is dealing with the emotional impact of disrupted family dynamics. Grandparents must navigate the complex emotions of their adult children’s inability to parent while providing stability and 24/7 support for their grandchildren. In our case, without disclosing details, my younger daughter (granddaughter’s mom) has a major mental health diagnosis that hinders her from raising children. The biological father is overall unable to maintain a stable life. Separately, they both appreciate us supporting and raising our granddaughter.

In addition to gaining custody of our granddaughter, we have endured the death of our oldest daughter, Emily, almost two years ago. That has also brought a layer of difficulty as I have simultaneously journeyed through my grief along with transitioning to full-time caregiver to our granddaughter. Emily didn’t have any children.

In addition to the emotional and personal challenges, grandparents raising grandchildren often face financial strain. Many are living on fixed incomes and may not have anticipated the financial responsibilities that come with raising children. From providing the basic necessities to covering school fees and extracurricular activities, the financial burden can be overwhelming. This can lead to increased stress and worry for grandparents who want nothing more than to provide for the children they are raising. There is financial relief for those that qualify. Check out grandfamilies.org for more info.

Making halloween cookies

Benefits of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

The impact of grandparents stepping up cannot be overstated. Research has shown that children raised by their grandparents experience better educational outcomes, decreased behavioral problems, and improved overall well-being. The stability and love provided by these grandparents create a nurturing environment that fosters growth and development. These children are more likely to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially, thanks to the unwavering support of their grandparents (www.everychildthrives.com)

Grandma and grandchild baking

Grandparents also bring a wealth of wisdom and life experience to their role as primary caregivers. They can offer unique insights and guidance to their grandchildren, helping them navigate the challenges of life. The intergenerational connection between grandparents and grandchildren is a powerful force that enriches the lives of both parties, fostering a sense of love, respect, and understanding. This connection has definitely helped me through my grief. My granddaughter needs me to be present and she has the biggest and best smile ever. She keeps me going!

Support and Resources for Grandparents

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by grandparents raising grandchildren, there are numerous support systems and resources available to assist them. Many community organizations offer support groups, counseling services, and educational programs specifically tailored to the needs of grandparents. These resources provide a safe space for grandparents to connect with others who are facing similar challenges, share experiences, and gain valuable insights. One such program is Sara’s House of Hope in Pennsylvania that offers support groups, book clubs, and resources to families impacted by a loved one’s active substance use and families who have had a substance-related loss. Grandfamilies need the assistance, but overall resources, services and support are inconsistent, underfunded, biased and insufficiently available and accessible. Another site, Generations United, creates and shares resources to encourage the creation and development of intergenerational initiatives and supports for grandfamilies and kinship families.

money heart

Additionally, government programs and policies are being developed to provide financial assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren. Again, check out Grandfamilies, it is a great website for resources These programs aim to alleviate some of the financial burden by offering subsidies, grants, and access to healthcare services. By providing a safety net for grandparents, these initiatives enable them to focus on the well-being and future of the children they are raising.

Grandma Dee visits

Grandparents as Advocates for Change

Grandparents raising grandchildren are not only caregivers; they are also advocates for change. Many grandparents are actively involved in raising awareness about the challenges they face and advocating for better support systems. They lend their voices to policy discussions, share their stories with the media, and participate in grassroots movements that aim to bring about change. Their advocacy is crucial in ensuring that the needs of grandparents and their grandchildren are recognized and addressed.

Tips for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

For grandparents who find themselves in the role of primary caregiver, there are several tips that can help navigate the challenges and ensure the well-being of both themselves and their grandchildren. Firstly, seeking support from other grandparents in similar situations can provide a sense of community and understanding. Lean on healthy family members that can give you a helping hand occasionally. For us, my mom is a great help to me, and she just lives down the road. My husband and I operate as a team to care and juggle all the schedules. We each have hobbies that overlap and enjoy to increase our well-being. I love to garden dahlias. Check out my YouTube channel on my gardening videos. I am also on the board for Violet’s daycare and volunteer to create the daycare site virtual tours (also on my YouTube channel). Additionally, taking care of one’s physical and mental health is essential to maintain resilience and energy. Finally, setting boundaries and finding a balance between caregiving and self-care is crucial for long-term well-being.

Grandpa does the stairs

Conclusion and the Future of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

In conclusion, grandparents who step up to raise their grandchildren are unsung heroes, making a significant impact on the lives of these children. They face unique challenges, but also experience profound rewards. With the support of government initiatives and community organizations, the future looks brighter for grandparents raising grandchildren.

As more awareness is raised about the importance of this role, it is hoped that society will recognize and value the contributions of these grandparents. By celebrating their selfless commitment and providing the necessary support, we can ensure that every grandchild raised by their grandparents has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. The future of grandparents stepping up to raise grandchildren is one of resilience, strength, and love.

Resources:
https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/child_law_practice/vol-36/july-aug-2017/kinship-care-is-better-for-children-and-families/

Childcare Aware

Grandfamilies.org

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Christian Grandparenting

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Jody Tucker has been a MN Licensed Real Estate Agent for 4 years. She has a strong love for homes and for helping join people with the perfect home that suits their lifestyle. 

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