Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Trend of Raising Grandchildren

This subject has been on my mind for sometime now. I know I am not alone in my thoughts, and that there are many loving Grandparents who find themselves walking in the same shoes. I know that throughout history it has not been an unfamiliar site to see Grandparents helping or raising their Grandchildren. The shocking news though is how the number of Grandparents raising Grandchildren are on the rise. I think there are numerous factors leading to this rising trend.

First let’s look at some statistics that we have heard since we have started down this path.

1. The attorney who did our third party custody does a lot of work for the State, Foster care cases, adoptions, etc… He didn’t give us any numbers but he said his case load has tripled with Grandparents seeking custody of their Grandchildren. He cringes every time a new case comes to his desk as he put it at the time, this is getting to be too much of the norm.

2. Upon speaking with another attorney, she was a little more willing to share some statistics with us. She said the number of cases of Grandparents seeking custody of Grandchildren has gone from 30 cases a year to a whopping 1500 a year.

I know from personal experience since we made the choice to raise Selena, we seldom find a church that doesn’t have at least three sets of Grandparents raising their Grandchildren, and we witness more coming on board in this venture on a monthly basis. This does not reflect the numerous questions we get asked by those who are facing an ultimate decision that has to be made.

We have at the moment 6 close friends who are Grandparents raising their Grandchildren. I am not going to go into the reasons for these Grandparents raising their Grandchildren other then to say that the reasons range from the inability of the parents to death of the parents or incarceration of the parents.

It is sort of alarming when one really considers the impact this trend is having on families, future families, and even society. I had someone pose a question, that at the time it was asked just kind of went in one ear and out the other, but then suddenly it hit home when I had time to really process what he was asking. Think about it, “With this trend of Grandparents raising Grandchildren, where is the next generation of Grandparents going to come from?” Think about it, if we are raising Selena now, and something would happen that she was unable to take care of her children, who would be there to step in and help out or take over? Not only that but will her children ever really know Grandparents in the way that we all have known our Grandparents? Do you think she really has a sense of what a true Grandparent is? No, in her mind a Grandparent is the person who takes care of your every need, she lacks the knowledge of what is a true Mom and Dad. I don’t say that in the sense that she won’t have the abilities and knowledge of how to raise her own children, as she will learn these skills through us, but I do see the confusion on her face and the questions she asks when her friends have a “Mom” and a “Dad” in the home.

What is the ramifications for these Grandparents who choose to raise their Grandchildren? Well, let me tell you there are many! The number one issue most Grandparents face is the financial piece. Think about it we have worked all our adult life thus far to assure that our retirement funds would be enough to sustain just the two of us, now all of a sudden there is a Grandchild and in some cases Grandchildren. Now the questions start turning to will our retirement funds be enough to support not just us but our Grandchildren too. Will we have enough money to see that our Grandchildren get to go to college? How can we save what we feel will be needed in the short amount of years we have before we are ready to retire. What will happen if something would happen to one of us, would our spouse have enough financial resources to provide for themselves and the Grandchildren?

Another ramification on the Grandparents is the emotional piece. For us, we have always felt very blessed to have Selena in our care. While we still have major concerns about her mother, and sometimes even feel a bit of bitterness and or anger, we never allow these feelings to over ride how happy we are, and how blessed we feel to have Selena with us. To have this second chance at parenting, and to have this opportunity to share so much love with Selena. However, I have seen some Grandparents who are not able to see this new duty as we do. I have seen a lot of bitterness, and anger that is expressed right in front of the grandchildren. I feel blessed that we are able to balance our relationship with our daughter and our granddaughter. I see some Grandparents who refuse to even talk with their adult children or even allow the Grandkids to have any contact what so ever with their parents. This is a tough area for all Grandparents raising Grandchildren. I have yet to see just a middle ground between the emotional piece.

I have many thoughts and ideas as to why I feel this is becoming such a trend. I am not going to go into a huge rant about all the reasons I feel this is becoming a norm, but I do want to say I do not believe it reflects in anyway on how we as parents raised our children, but I do feel today’s society is playing a large role in the decisions our children make, and this goes deeper then just the Grandparents, but even reaches across the border into the number of children in foster care, including state and private adoptions.

Here is my question to my readers: “What factors do you think is leading to this trend?”

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  1. Selena is lucky to have you. I was raised by my grandmother during my formative years and I'm forever grateful for her. Since my parents were busy working all the time (stressed out fighting), my grandmother's unconditional love and gentleness has been a haven for me all my life. I truly believe if you have just one person who cares for you in this way, you can overcome all obstacles. God bless you and Selena.

  2. Hmmmm, for many of the cases,I don't believe yours, it's the parents' not growing up. There are too many "adults" who are still acting like children and do not realize the consequences of their behavior, so the grandparents are forced to step in. That's what I saw when I was teaching and I ran into a couple of grandparents who were the "parent." Now what was truly hard for the kids was the parent who would randomly appear and try to be a parent but not be capable.

  3. Wow, I wouldn't even have thought of all those ramifications! Off the top of my head I am not sure how to answer your question. Though I would have to say I agree with Ticia.

  4. It's an interesting post. In my culture the links between generations are generally stronger. Very often grandparents share homes with their adult children. My parents lived for a while with my maternal grandparents, and my grandma was taking care of me while my mother was finishing college. I really admire what you are doing with Selena and your attitude towards what fate gave you.