Although it is never really the ideal situation, some grandparents find that they need to raise their grandchildren because the parents of those children are not in a position to do. Sometimes it is because of financial circumstances and sometimes it is because of unsafe circumstances in the parent’s home because of drug abuse. Whatever the case may be, more grandparents than ever before are stepping up to the plate.
Across the United States, more than 13 million children are living in homes with their grandparents.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
This means that 2.5 million grandparents every day are taking on the responsibilities required to raise these children. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other relatives in the picture that are providing support, but there are 1 million kids today that have their grandparents has their sole parental influences while growing up.
- Only 150,000 kids are being raised by their grandfather as the sole parental influence in their life at this moment.
- 55% of grandmothers who are maintaining a household to support their grandchildren are under the age of 55.
- Two-thirds of families that are maintained by at least one grandparent also include at least one of the parents of the grandchild.
Although the idea of having grandparents raising a child is somewhat charming in some ways, it is a difficult venture for the entire community. The average income for a home with grandparents raising grandchildren is less than $20k when only the grandmother is present, which is 1 million of the households where grandparents are raising children. The one advantage is that most grandparents own their home, which means there is a stable environment for children to be raised. These families that have a grandparent involved daily make up 7% of the total households in the US with kids under the age of 18.
Are Grandparents Finding the Support That They Need?
- 33% of the grandparents that are caring for their grandchildren have not graduated from high school.
- There is a 49% unemployment rate for grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren.
- Grandfathers have a 34% unemployment rate in households where they are supporting their grandchildren.
- The amount of children being raised by their grandparents has been rising steadily for the past 40 years, doubling the amount households in 2010 when compared to 1970.
- Two events have contributed to large spikes in this statistic: the recession that occurred between 2007-2009 and the epidemic of crack use in the late 1980′s.
- Custodial grandchildren have higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems that children in the average US population.
- Boys who are raised by grandparents are more likely to have externalized behavioral problems than girls, who are more likely to internalize issues.
When you’re trying to make the best out of a difficult situation, having grandparents raise their grandchildren is much more preferable in many instances than putting children into foster care or temporary placements. Although there are behavioral issues that will come up, especially when parents are not included in the family picture, with the right resources, grandparents can conquer the problem when they can access the supports they need.
What Other Risks Do Grandkids Face?
- Children who were raised by grandparents starting between the ages of 2-6 had the same levels of emotional development as other children, but lacked behind in academic skills.
- Children who have a caring adult within the family can help to reduce the risks of suffering from future bouts of depression and anxiety.
- Only 11% of grandparents are raising their grandkids because of the death of one or both of that child’s parents.
- Over 40% of children being cared for by a grandparent are there because of at least one parent’s substance abuse.
- 28% of the kids who are being raised by their grandparents were victims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect from their parents.
- Grandparents often have to handle the false promises that parents make to their children as they attempt to stay within the child’s life, leading to future behavioral difficulties.
- For every child that is in the foster system right now, there are about 25 kids being raised by their grandparents and/or an extended family support system.
The primary issue that grandparents face isn’t necessarily with the behavior of their grandkids, but is instead with the behaviors of their adult children. Many grandparents end up being surprised by their child’s decision to commit a crime, abuse their child, or simply take off with no warning. This creates a situation where grandparents must either take custody of their grandkids or have them placed into the foster system. Most grandparents do step in to fulfill the missing role, but that’s when the next set of behavioral challenges begin. After all, most kids would prefer to be with their parents if all things are equal.
Some Final Facts About Grandparents
- 36% of grandparents who are raising their grandkids have done so for more than 5 years.
- Families that have a grandparent raising a grandchild help to save taxpayers over $6 billion each year because they keep those kids out of the foster system.
- 21% of grandparents who are taking care of their grandkids are living below the poverty line.
- Children who are placed with another relative make up over one-quarter of the foster care system in the United States.
It is rarely an easy situation to handle when children move from their parents to their grandparents. Although some kids prefer living with their grandparents, it is often just the start of a long, difficult journey for everyone involved. With 1 out of every 5 households in poverty, it is essential for grandparents to be given the information they need to access resources in their community so they get the support they need. When this can happen, many grandkids are given an extra chance to succeed.