Grandparents — Parenting the Second Time Around

There’s dried fettuccini on the bathroom floor, which is a variation from the usual wet towels, but this time it’s not the teenagers’ fault.

Breakfast, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Our two-year old granddaughter – whom we babysit on a regular basis while her mother works and goes back to school – has been rummaging around the cupboards.

Like many people our age, my fifty-something husband and I are on the tail end of raising one set of kids when we find ourselves presented with the next generation. We had assumed, like our own parents before us, that our grand parenting duties would consist of a regular weekend visit or play dates in the park, but according to Generations United, a non-profit national organization dedicated to improving lives across the generations, in the last two decades, there has been a 64 per cent increase of grandchildren living with their grandparents.

U.S. Census figures show that an increasing number of children are relying upon their grandparents for their daily care, either full or part time. Roughly 9 percent of all children in the United States – some 6.6 million – lived with a grandparent in 2008, according to the U.S. Census government site. The majority of these children, 4.4 million, lived in the grandparent’s home.

However, a grandchild does not have to be a fulltime member of his grandparent’s home for the impact to be felt: 30 percent of all children under 5 whose mothers work outside the home are cared for by their grandparents. That’s a lot of fettuccini on the floor.

Children add stress to the day, as we all learned the first time around, and it doesn’t help when you think you’re all alone in this endeavor. For this reason, it’s good to know that there are resources to provide further information, answer questions, and maybe just jog your memory about classic bedtime story books.

The Internet’s a great place to start, and three sites are worth mentioning:

AARP – The resource for life after 50, AARP’s Grand Families guide covers finances, legal concerns, care giving support and safety in an easy to navigate site.

Generations United – This non-profit organization’s site provides basic information and helpful links to private and public resources concerning finances, legal issues, social concerns, and intergenerational learning activities. – Joining is free, but even without registering you can explore and access coloring and activity pages, movie reviews, articles and recipes. – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren – links to grandparent programs by state regarding financial, legal, and general support.

For Further Reading:

Resources for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Baby Boomer Grandparents — Like Everything Else, We Do It Our Way

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8 Responses to “Grandparents — Parenting the Second Time Around”

  1. Anon says:

    I really don’t understand why grandparents agree to watch their grandkids, and then complain about it. If they want to spend quality time with their grandkids, rather than have them raised by strangers all the while saving their children money on daycare, it is very commendable. However, complaining about it and acting like it’s such a burden to have to do so completely negates the good will of doing it in the first place. I’m sure grandparents who have had something tragic happen to their grandchildren while in the care of somebody outside the family would be more than happy to oblige. Bottom line- if you resent looking after your grandchildren DON’T DO IT.

    • Sometimes, it’s not a choice, and even though there are dificult, frustrating moments, many people would not opt out of watching their grandchildren. Though they are sidewinded with a situation they never expected to happen, and do not know how to react to, they also know that they will work through it to the best conclusion for everyone.

      It’s a changing world, every single day.

      • Teardrops says:

        In my case… I would not let my kids go to foster care… now I am living a world I would never have dreamed us being in… But here we are, would we change it now, no… But there are times that it is just frustrating and we need somebody to talk to that has been there… J/S

        • Increasingly, I am realizing that many of us are not living in a world that we would ever have dreamed being in. If we could have stood outside the door and looked in, we might have said, “That looks interesting, but no, that’s not what I was thinking I would do.”

          But we’re not given that choice — thank God, actually. As you say, when we look back, we say, “This has been tough. It’s been different, all right. But so am I — I’ve changed into a better and different person, and I while I wouldn’t repeat the experiences of the past, I sure wouldn’t trade them away, either.”

          I wish you joy with your life, and I hope that God brings into your life the people that you need to help uplift you. (Actually, He does — we just take so long to recognize it.) If anything I say helps, I am glad, and I always love to chat. (You can message me privately through our website, through the Contact page.)

  2. Tansey says:

    It only takes a moment of reading an article like this that I arise from my moping about not having grandchildren to feeling Blessed that I have the freedom to live the kind of retired life that allows me my freedom. There are many working grandparents who are too young to retire who are helping to raise their grandchildren-

    • We all have our individual situations, with positives and negatives unique to them. The more we read and talk to other people, the more we see the dimensions to both our, and their, worlds.

  3. Cate says:

    Just found your article in ‘The Epoch Times’, really liked it and thought I’d wander over here. Great piece. The love for your children and grandchildren really shines through. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be re-sharing.

    • Thank you, Cate. I’m glad that you found me, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

      I ask all of my readers who discover me and like me to pass me on to their families, friends, and colleagues. I grow by word of mouth.

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