GRANDPARENTS RAISING GRANDCHILDREN
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
GRANDPARENTS RAISING GRANDCHILDREN

Grandparents are an important resource for both parents and children. They routinely provide child care, financial assistance and emotional support. Occasionally they are called upon to provide much more including temporary or full time care and responsibility for their grandchildren.

An increasing number of children in the United States live in households headed by a grandparent. This trend is due to:

  • increasing numbers of single parent families
  • the high rate of divorce
  • teenage pregnancies
  • AIDS
  • incarcerations of parents
  • substance abuse by parents
  • death or disability of parents
  • parental abuse and neglect

In many of these homes, neither of the child's biological parents is present. In most cases, children taken care of by grandparents move in with them as infants or preschoolers and remain with them for five years or more. These grandparents are a diverse group ranging in ages from the thirties to the seventies. Many grandparents are ready to simplify their lives and slow down. Giving that up and taking over the responsibilities of being a primary parent again can stir up many feelings including grief, anger, loss, resentment and possibly guilt. This transition can be very stressful and the emotional and financial burdens can be significant. Culture shock at having to deal with children and adolescents of a different generation can be great. Grandparent headed households have a significantly higher poverty rate than other kinds of family units.

Many grandparents in this care taking role underestimate or are unaware of the added burdens their new role as 'parents' will place upon them. Grandparents often assume their role will be to nurture and reward children without having to set limits. When grandparents serve as parents, however, they must learn to set limits and establish controls as they did with their own children.

Many children living with grandparents arrive with preexisting problems or risk factors including abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, and loss of parents (death, abandonment and incarceration). This situation can create risks for both children and grandparents. Caring for your grandchild can also be very positive and rewarding. Grandparents bring the benefit of experience and perspective. They can also provide important stability, predictability, and be a healthy role model for their grandchildren.

It is very important for grandparents to receive support and assistance. Seeking out other family members, clergy, support groups and social agencies can be helpful. The Grandparents Information Center (sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons) is a good place to get information, referrals and support. The American Association of Retired Persons website address is www.aarp.org. Financial aid may be available especially if the child was abandoned, neglected or abused. Mental health professionals including child and adolescent psychiatrists, community mental health and child welfare agencies and parent-teacher associations are other important resources for the grandparents.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists recognize the important role many grandparents play in raising their grandchildren. The better grandparents are able to meet their own needs, the better they can fulfill the demands of parenting.

For additional information see Facts for Families:
#1 Children and Divorce,
#15 The Adopted Child,
#64 Foster Care,
#74 Advocating for Your Child.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).

Article #77 Updated 09/00

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
   
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