Why are Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren

- | 58 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

grandparents parenting grandchildren

Have you ever relived your life? A few grandparents parenting grandchildren are doing just that! They’ve to restart the task of parenting besides playing the role of a grandparent. Is that easy?

Some might say what’s the big deal? Grandparents have been parents themselves, so their second innings as parents should be a piece of cake. Well, it isn’t always so.

If you are a grandparent, you can well understand the challenges faced by grandparents parenting grandchildren. And if you are a parent, who was raised by grandparents, I’m sure you know exactly what the problems are of grandparents raising grandkids.

My heart goes out to all those millions of grandparents parenting grandchildren worldwide who sacrifice their personal life and ambitions, go through all the hardships and difficulties in doing things they never had in their plan.

This post is for all those grandparents raising their grandchildren, but it’s also for parents and to-be parents or just about anyone, as one day you would be a grandparent too!

“Grandparents are a family’s greatest treasure, the founders of a loving legacy, the greatest storytellers, and the keepers of traditions that linger on in cherished memory. Grandparents are the family’s strong foundation. Their very special love sets them apart. Through happiness and sorrow, through their special love and caring, grandparents keep a family close at heart.” ~Author unknown

I have lived for a long time with my paternal grandparents when my father was posted in a far-away area, and I am well aware of the challenges of grandparents raising grandchildren.

There are many fond childhood memories I have about my grandmother and her angelic acts. I clearly remember that many a times she would stuff us with all the goodies making us happy, a typical grandparent characteristic that I am sure most of you would also be able to relate to.

I think the most wonderful thing about grandparents and grandchildren is that their relationship is just so loving and giving in everything.

General Scenario of Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren

According to recent studies the primary role of grandparents as caregivers is a growing trend all over.

Although grandparents raising grandchildren is not something new, it was surprising to know that only in the US nearly 6.7 million kids are living in houses headed by grandparents or other relatives.

In nearly one-third of these families, the parents are not present and it’s only the grandparents parenting grandchildren with little or no help from others. Such families are often known as ‘grandfamilies’.

This is a matter of concern, if the primary reason for the grandparents to take over is the irresponsibility or incapability of the parents.  It does put an additional responsibility on their shoulders and make things tough for them, if grandparents commit to look after their grandchildren.

The number of grandchildren relying on their grandparents is on the rise globally, primarily due to the security of a home, and grandparents are taking on this responsibility even with work challenges of their own.

In some cultures of the world, as in India, there is a tradition of joint families where grandparents are already an integral part of the family providing support and guidance.

They’re not required to completely take up the task of upbringing their grandchildren; however, they may temporarily take charge to help, if need be.

The modern era did disintegrate some of these families into nuclear families, but the recent double income necessity of parents or their rising marital problems has revived the culture of joint families, or grandparents assisting in raising grandchildren in many countries.

I have an aunt who is a grandmother, and as her daughter and son-in-law are working parents, she has shifted to their place and taken up the entire responsibility of bringing up her grandchild.

Similarly, another of my known cousins is divorced and her son is permanently living with his paternal grandparents.

“Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins.” ~ Joyce Allston

Why Grandparents are Parenting Grandchildren?

During my research on the topic, I did come across many people asking this question in the comments section:

Raising children is the duty of parents, so why do grandparents have to take on the task of parenting their grandchildren; didn’t their job get over with parenting their own kids?

Often it’s the parents who aren’t able bring up their kids due to various reasons or circumstances, and that is where grandparents usually step in because they love their grandchildren and wouldn’t want them to go elsewhere.

However, there are various other reasons for grandparents raising grandchildren as mentioned below.

Reasons for Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren

The role of grandparents has become more important and relevant as they are faced with the responsibility of caring and raising their grandkids for various reasons like the following:

  • To buffer the effects of parental death, illness, or disability.
  • To offer help during divorce, separation, or help single parents as there is an increase in the number of such families.
  • To reduce grandkid’s contact with parents with substance-abusing, or mental health problems.
  • To cater for a home-like experience, and shape their grandchildren’s personal and cultural identity.
  • To give support if either of the parent is imprisoned.
  • To help out during parental abuse or neglect.
  • To cater to the kids whose parents have abandoned them, or are on military deployment.
  • To help out their children during teen pregnancy.

Most of these families undergo a family crisis where the parent is incapable or unwilling to take care of the children.

Here the grandparents often take up the role of parents to keep children within the family, keep them out of the foster care system, and save them from further harm.

While grandparents are parenting their grandchildren, they face health, financial, housing, education, and work challenges that often spoil their retirement plans.

“A child needs a grandparent, anybody’s grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world.”  ~Charles and Ann Morse

Positive Aspects of Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren

There are lots of positive aspects of grandparents raising grandkids; one of them is the opportunity of grandparents and grandchildren to be able to have a closer relationship, which might not be if the kids lived with their parents.

Living in the same household, grandparents parenting grandchildren have the opportunity to pass on their memories, wisdom, stories, family and traditional history directly to their grandchildren.

When I stayed with my mother at my grandparents place, I got the wonderful experience of learning a lot from my grandparents and this enabled me to feel more connected to our family roots, learn more about its history, and develop a strong sense of belonging.

Grandparents parenting grandchildren have a wonderful opportunity to instill gratitude in children, to teach more about life and a better way to live, and have a chance to learn new and exciting things from them as well.

It is wonderful to have grandparents actively participate in raising their grandchildren. However, I feel that the bringing up part is entirely the responsibility of parents except for a few cases like where both parents are working, are away from home, or are imprisoned and other such cases.

Over to you

Do you have any experience or memory of your grandparents bringing you up? If you are a parent, to-be parent, or would be grandparent, what do you think are the pros and cons of grandparents raising grandchildren?

What has your role as a grandparent been in raising your grandkids? What would you say about the parents’ role in this whole issue and what are your views about grandparents parenting grandchildren?

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58 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Malika Bourne

    2013-08-20 at 10:22 am

    Excellent post Harleena!

    Way back when the grandparents adopted an illegitimate child and everyone thought the child was theirs. Turns out that aunts and uncles were really cousins.Now girls don’t give up babies.

    You did mentions drugs etc. Good point . It seems that illegal drug use is on the rise. Meth labs are all over the place. So, where else to the little ones go?

    I raised one grandchild for a while when my daughter was deployed. Now, I am too pooped to pop. I just have the kids for a visit. Thank goodness my kids are all stable. I am plumb out of energy. Poor grandparents who pitch in with love.

    • Harleena Singh

      2014-01-04 at 10:15 am

      Hi Malika,

      Sorry to have missed your comment, though I’m glad I’m at it now 🙂

      Very true, though sometimes it turns out to be the other way round too. I think there is trouble in all areas and in such cases little ones have their grandparents, if not parents around to take care. I guess parent’s pass on the duty to the grandparents, who even take it up willingly, but they don’t realize all that the grandparents have to go through, it’s certainly not easy for them either, yet they do it because of the love they have for their children and grandchildren.

      Yes, there are lots and lots of grandparents I know who are going through a very rough time taking care of the young ones, and at their age, it’s not easy. Hats-off to them.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us 🙂

  2. Samantha Bangayan

    2012-05-09 at 1:07 am

    I hadn’t even thought about the revival of this trend, Harleena.

    Like in India, Peruvians also grow up in households with various family members of different generations apart from the nuclear family. This is also the case in my Chinese culture and I’m grateful for the presence of my grandparents and other extended family members as I grew up. I was never solely raised by my grandparents, but they were an integral part of my life and I learned so much from them. There’s something about hearing their stories that rooted me in my family and made me proud to be a Bangayan. =)

    Thanks for having me reflect on this, friend! =)

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-09 at 10:53 am

      Nice to see you back again Samantha!

      Glad that you could relate to the post. Wonderful to know that the Chinese and Peruvian culture are quite similar to our culture where grandparents are present along with the other extended family members, which takes care of someone or the other looking after the kids even if the parents are busy working.

      When grandparents aren’t totally raising their grandkids, though are present around them being an integral part, it’s better for the grandparents as they can really enjoy their grandchildren rather than parenting or disciplining them. And yes, their presence ensures that grandchildren learn more about their roots, values, and traditions pretty well. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. It’s always a pleasure to have you over. 🙂

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Why are Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren

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