Grandparents As Parents
By Kelly S. Croslis
There was a time when you heard the word grandparent; the image in your mind was that of an older couple sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch. Their life seemed to be past them and relaxing in their rockers was pleasant.
Fast forward a couple generations and you will find a much different picture. Mention the word grandparent now and you will picture a large motor home and the stories told from travels around the US, or how they learned how to snorkel in the Bahamas, or went skiing in Tahoe - certainly no rocking chair here.
One thing that has also changed is the part grandparents play in their grandchildren's lives. According to the census 2000, there were 5.7 million grandparents living with their grandchildren, 3.6 percent of the American population 30 and over. When it came to grandparents who solely raise their grandchildren, there were 23 % had done so for less than year; 23% for one to two years; 15% for three or four years a 39 % for 5 years or more.
For many this is not the life they envisioned or planned for, but have taken on willingly to keep their grandchildren safe and out of foster care - because of divorce, mental illness, teen pregnancy and abuse. In addition, grandparents believe it is their responsibility to keep their grandchildren in the family, how could they be place elsewhere. While the trend is growing, the resources available to these 'new parents,' are scare and difficult to navigate; add to that less income, needing to adapt to a younger generation and in a sense, starting over.
On the upside, grandparents today are more able to raise their grandchildren; this new generation is younger and healthier. Also, there has been research to show that there are benefits to children when they have regular contact with their grandparents.
With this phenomenon becoming more popular, support groups are being created, new laws are being passed and information is becoming more available as these 'new parents" navigate a new territory. No matter the reason, the opportunity given to these children far outweigh the complications that may arise in the beginning, then as the years go by, the children are given more love, knowledge and understanding about the world around them than they could have expected.
About the Author
Kelly S. Croslis Grandmother, Mom, writer and someone who just loves to live and experience all there is to see in this world.
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