The Counseling Corner – Honoring grandparents – It’s great to be grand! (Week 4)

September 20, 2012

“Grandparents are similar to a piece of string – handy to have around and easily wrapped around the fingers of their grandchildren.” ~Author Unknown

Last week we presented interesting facts regarding grandparents. Some of those details included the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren. The statistics are showing that it is a situation that is becoming more and more common. Compliments of an article entitled “Raising Grandkids” at, this week we will look at some of the negative and positive aspects of grandparents raising their grandkids.

The Brookdale Grandparent Caregiver Information Project based at the University of California at Berkeley Center on Aging has said that in the last 10 years, the number of children living with their grandparents has increased by 50 percent. According to a survey by AARP, 31 percent of adults are grandparents. Of that number, 8 percent are providing day care on a regular basis, and 3 percent are rearing a grandchild. The 2000 U.S. Census reports that 6.3 percent of US children under 18, 4.5 million, live in grandparent-headed households. There are no parents present in the lives of about one-third of these children. In 2005, a survey by the U.S. Census noted that the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren had risen to nearly six million kids or about 8 percent of kids in the U.S. This isn’t something that just happens to a particular race, area or social class. It happens in all socioeconomic groups due to divorce, neglect, teen-age pregnancy, the death of the parents, incarceration, unemployment, abuse, alcohol or drug usage, or abandonment.

Negative impact on marriage of raising grand kids

When grandparents take on a parental role it affects many aspects of their married life. The following stresses can severely damage a marriage. It is estimated that it takes about a year for a couple to adjust to the many changes that result from caring for grand kids on a full time basis. They feel more stressed due to concerns about their own health and finances. Housing may be an issue if they are living in a senior citizen complex. The issue of medical care for the children is difficult. There is the loss of time for themselves and their dream of retirement dies. Their social life and circle changes drastically. There is also an emotional toll. Feelings range from fear, anger, exhaustion, resentment, grief, and shame to thankfulness and joy. This type of stress can damage a marriage. There are, however, some positive impacts on marriage when it comes to raising grand kids. Even with these many negative stresses in their lives, many grandparents report that through it all, they feel a greater purpose for their lives. Caring for their grandchildren makes them feel young and active. They say that the sacrifices are worth it!

Next Week: Conclusion

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.