One of our kids is a single parent and was struggling with their own issues. We tried to help in conventional ways, but it was becoming clear that it wasn’t working, and the help they wanted wasn’t something we were willing to do. When they lost their place to live, we convinced them to let our grandchild live with us until they got back on their feet.
We have had our grandson living with us for 7 months now. We enrolled him in school near us and now I make his lunches, help with homework, and wait for the bus every day with the other moms! (Interesting note: the moms are young enough that I could be their mother! Ha!) He has his own room, and my husband and I are his “parents”. He really is a great kid, very sweet, does well in school, is making friends, and loves to help around the house. I feel like I am my grandson’s mom, and I have to remind myself that I am not. My husband still gets to be grandpa, and once in a while I feel bad that I don’t get to be grandma anymore. I have to be the person who guides and directs him, make sure everything gets done, make sure he’s eating well, take care of him when he’s sick, monitor school and homework, and discipline issues are usually my responsibility. The additional twist is we have to deal with the parents, and they don’t like each other, so it can be difficult. So far, we have managed well with only a couple of parental meltdowns.
We had to go through parenting classes at one point when this was starting to become an issue, and I heard a lot of statistics about grandparents raising their grandchildren and why.
· 7.8 million children live in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. These households include those both those where the children's parents may or may not be present.
· 2.7 million children (4%) of all U.S. children are being raised in grandfamilies or kinship care situations.
· Children placed with relatives make up over a quarter (26%) of all children in the foster care system.
· For every child being raised in the foster care system, nearly 25 are being raised by grandparents or other relatives outside the system.
· Of the 65 million grandparents in the United States in 2012, 7 million, or 10 percent, lived with at least one grandchild, according to Coresident Grandparents and Their Grandchildren: 2012, a new report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
· Two percent of grandparents who lived with a grandchild were age 30 to 39, while the highest percentage was for those age 50 to 59 (34 percent). Those age 80 and over made up only 4 percent.
U.S. Census Bureau. “Households and Families 2010: U.S. (April 2012)."
Gregory C. Smith, a Kent State University researcher reported that the need for grandparents to step in is frequently the result of the grandchild's parents' substance abuse, death, mental illness, child neglect, or military deploymentOur time now is not our own as we have him to consider. I have to find babysitters, I don’t go on my husband’s business trips anymore, and I don’t go on hikes as much as I used to. But, when I look at our grandson, I am certain we are doing the right thing. He deserves a stable and happy life where he can just be a kid and not deal with too many adult issues.