When a grandparent takes over custody of their children’s children, the circumstances surrounding the change are usually dire. Oftentimes, the loss of their own children who were parents while they were alive forces grandparents to step up. On other occasions, an unsafe household require that grandchildren be put into a more secure and nurturing environment.
Grandparents raising their grandchildren are becoming a growing segment of the population, regardless of the reasons surrounding the change.
- Eleven percent of grandparents assume custody due to the death of one or both parents of their grandchildren
- Forty percent of children came from households where at least one parent was suffering from substance abuse
- Twenty-eight percent of children left their parents’ homes over neglect, abuse or abandonment
According to the MetLife Report on American Grandparents, more than 13 million children now reside with the 2.5 million grandparents returning to parenting responsibilities. One million of those grandmas and grandpas serve as the only parental influence for the children growing up in their homes.
The number has risen steadily over the past 40 years. Grandparents serving as the primary caregiver doubled between 1970 and 2010. Significant factors cited in that growth include the recession from 2007 to 2009 and the late-eighties crack cocaine epidemic.
For all family members involved in the transition, the challenges do not end once children are settled in to their new surroundings. In fact, custodial grandchildren are more likely to suffer higher than average levels of emotional and behavioral problems.
While challenging for grandparents now serving as parents, the psychological aftermath is not only common, but also understandable. Behavioral problems started long before with parents abusing their children or using narcotics. The seemingly endless downward spiral that led to the lost of custody left grandparents with important choices.
Custody or foster care.
Thankfully, most step up and assume the responsibilities raising their grandchildren. That sacrifice creates stability and starts a new chapter where the best interests of children come first.