Re-mothering: Grandmas raising grand kids

Everyone I talk with lately has a story of how they are raising their grand-kids. Through some sort of crisis, be it substance abuse, spousal abuse, abandonment or death, these grandparents have stepped up to the plate and I applaud them.

I know even in my own family, my parents have had a few grandchildren in and out of their homes for a few years – some by choice and some because they had no where else to go. My parents are just cool like that.

In Illinois alone, over 200,000 children under the age of 18 are living in a grandparent-headed home. More than 100,000 grandparents are caring for their grandchildren. Thank God for the Illinois Department on Aging who helps Grandparents in these types of situations providing anything from counseling to support groups to legal assistance to school supplies.

I understand that as a grandparent you want the best not only for your children, but for your grandchildren and would do whatever you needed to do to help.

According to AARP most of this growing epidemic is attributed to the downturn in our current economic crisis, (unemployment, foreclosures, etc.) and these folks are taking on added financial responsibilities even when they themselves are in financial hardship.

Shouldn’t this be the season where they’ve raised their kids – now it’s time to honeymoon again? It’s time to once again enjoy life? That’s what my Mom has said after a few years of taking care of a couple of my relatives. She thought at one time, maybe she and my dad would move to another country so they wouldn’t have anywhere for the kids or grand-kids to come back to. I get that.

These should be the golden years of retirement. You’ve raised your kids, you’ve done the school thing, the midnight trips to the ER and more – now go enjoy your life. Somehow, that isn’t always the way it pans out and you just do what needs to be done.

My heart goes out to all of you, especially if you are right smack in the middle of doing this at this present time and kudos to all of you out there who have been there, done that, and got the T-Shirt.

Photo Credit: Some little kid

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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3 Responses to Re-mothering: Grandmas raising grand kids

  1. evamsz says:

    Another informative piece, Susan.


  2. Susan Avello says:

    I hear ya, Laura. I’m all about parents helping out as well. It just seems that in a lot of cases (or maybe my own immediate family) sometimes we pawn our kids off on our folks and continue playing shirking our responsibilities as parents. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. And with so many single parents – it’s great having additional support AKA-grandmas and grandpas. I was astounded at the stats that something like 4.1 million children in US are being cared for by their grandparents.


  3. I’m on the wall about this one. Definitely there’s appeal in the idea that you work hard all your life and then get to enjoy those golden years. On the other hand, with people now living so long it feels odd that you retire at 60-odd then just bum around for 20+ years until your middle aged kids have to step in and care for you. I’m attracted to the idea of the multi-generational family where aged parents retire then help the working younger generation with their kids. Not full-time, of course, but in a supportive role. It’s also nice for the kids – my grandma helped my single working mother raise me, taking me on weekends and stuff like that, and I really benefited from her care. Anyway, it’s an interesting topic for discussion and I think we’re just seeing the beginning of it.


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