More and more grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Part of the explanation is the poor economy, but another reason is the increased emphasis on keeping kids from troubled homes out of foster care if they can be placed with a relative.
Child custody issues related to divorce may or may not play a part. There are many reasons why parents may not be prepared to do the parenting of their children. U.S. Census data shows that grandparents are raising nearly 3 million children in the United States. That represents an increase of 8% over the past decade. The biggest jump came after 2008 when the economy went sour.
Experts say that the primary reason children are raised by grandparents tends to be that the parents are abusers of alcohol or drugs. In addition, some parents are unprepared simply because they themselves are very young. Mental health problems, financial problems and criminal court problems that lead to incarceration all contribute to the number of kids raised by grandparents.
Some observers believe the actual number of children raised by grandparents is underestimated.
Some also say that when the bad economy forced parents to move back in with their kids’ grandparents, grandchildren stayed with the grandparents when the parents moved to find work.
It is difficult for many grandparents navigating the poor economy and their reduced retirement accounts with more mouths to feed and more energy needed for keeping up with young children.
One grandmother raising grandkids said, “We’re squeaking, but we’re okay. It’s hard, but you just kind of play it by ear and you hope that you raise them to be really decent, good people.”