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Grandparents bridge generation gap by rearing grandkids

Peterson, J. (1996, March 31). Grandparents bridge generation gap by rearing grandkids. The Sunday Oklahoman, p. 23A.

OVERVIEW

" ‘Grandparents are really saving many children from the courts, from the streets,’ " notes Mildred S. Wood, director of minority affairs for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington.

The following figures are listed in the article:

  • 3.4 million U.S. children under age 18 live in their grandparents’ homes.
  • 12% of black children live with a grandparent.
  • 6% of Hispanic children live with a grandparent.
  • 4% of white children live with a grandparent.

The reasons for grandparent custody are many: "a parent’s addiction or disability, unemployment or other family conflicts." While so many grandparents are rearing children today, federal and state policies are often unfair to grandparents-as-parents. For instance, in many states, public aid is arduous for grandparents to obtain. Even when welfare laws are equitable, grandparents are often reluctact to battle for custody, afraid of estranging themselves from their own children. This becomes problematic in that grandparents "often cannot qualify for public assistance although they are more likely than parents to be on fixed incomes." In fact, the grandparents are frequently the least financially capable relative to raise a child.

There are many conflicts for grandparents-as-parents. The article’s author notes that "Shame, guilt, and resentment may all be part of their feelings if they look on their custody of grandchildren as being a failure on their part or the part of their child." These parents also learn how much society’s impact on children has changed over the past two decades. Discipline once effective is now considered inappropriate or useless. Many grandparents are also stunned that spanking and physical discipline is highly disapproved of by many groups in today’s society.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

  1. What young people that you work with are raised by their grandparents? Do they behave differently from those raised by one or both parents? What are the differences?
  2. In youth work, it is often important to interact with a young person’s entire family. How do you respond to dealing with a much older parent?
  3. What are the benefits of being raised by a grandparent?
  4. What can be done to support grandparents raising children?

IMPLICATIONS

  1. This is a growing phenomenon in America. Grandparents need help in raising a second generation of children.
  2. Be sensitive to the particular needs of a young person whose parent is a grandparent.

Kathryn Q. Powers cCYS