Do you have any special memories of your grandparents or great-grandparents from when you were young? Many people have fond memories of spending time with their grandparents as they grew up, and many grandparents are now making very similar memories with their own grandchildren!
September 8th, 2019, was National Grandparents Day in the United States. On National Grandparents Day, we celebrate grandparents and the special role that they play in the lives of their grandchildren and in the lives of other who they love.
One role that many grandparents in the United States have taken on is raising their grandchildren. Over 3% of the 74 million children in the U.S. live away from their parents, and two-thirds of these children (almost 1.5 million children) are being raised by their grandparents. Grandparents raise grandchildren for many different reasons if the children’s parents are unable to care for them, including military deployment, relationship breakup, incarceration, homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. In 2018, it was estimated that 2.6 million grandparents were raising their grandchildren, and 39% of these grandparents had cared for their grandchildren for five years or more. About 2% of grandparents who raise their grandchildren are between the ages of 30-39, and 34%, the highest percentage, are aged 50-59.
Raising grandchildren can have a significant effect on grandparents. Older adults who raise their grandchildren are more likely to be poor and to have physical and mental health problems than those who did not raise grandchildren. Many children being raised by their grandparents have experienced trauma and other challenging situations, and these children experience their own adverse effects, including anger, anxiety, and other behavioral problems.
Despite these challenges, raising grandchildren also has positive benefits for both grandparents and grandchildren. Grandparent-grandchild families can help the family unit stay somewhat intact in the face of stress and trauma, and can help to build a close relationship between children and their grandparents. Raising grandchildren can provide grandparents with the satisfaction of nurturing their child and providing a safe place for them, as well as helping them maintain meaningful ties with their grandchildren.
Grandparents play an important role in our lives and our society! On National Grandparents Day, and every day, we celebrate grandparents and express our thanks for all that they do.
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Henig, R.M. (2018). The Age of Grandparents Is Made of Many Tragedies. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/this-is-the-age-of-grandparents/561527/
Lockhart, B. (2013). Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren. Connecticut Youth Services Association. Retrieved from https://www.ctyouthservices.org/CYSABlog/BlogView.asp?BlogId=4096811&title=Grandparents+Parenting+Grandchildren
Muthiah, N., Adesman, A., & Keim, S.A. (2019). Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Are They Up to the Job? Pediatrics, 144(2).
United States Census Bureau (2014). CHILD POPULATION: NUMBER OF CHILDREN (IN MILLIONS) AGES 0–17 IN THE UNITED STATES BY AGE, 1950–2017 AND PROJECTED 2018–2050. Suitland, MD: United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/pop1.asp