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Grandparents As Parents

There is a sharp rise in the number of children who are being raised by persons other than their parents and in majority of the cases, these persons are none other that the grandparents. However, bringing up your grandchildren is no easy task. Even though grandparents are experienced parents and are quite aware of the developmental needs of children, there are several special issues that make it tough for them to rear up the kids, one of the most common being the huge generation gap. Let us explore the reasons why grandchildren have to act like parents and take care of their grandchildren and what kind of issues do they face in the context.

The Reasons

  • The main reasons for grandparents stepping in fulfill the parental role for children include
  • To take care of grandchildren who have suffered from the death of their parents
  • To provide a home-like experience for children of working parents
  • To influence grandchildren’s personal and cultural identity
  • To buffer the effects of divorce in grandchildren
  • To help their child handle single-parenthood
  • To reduce the financial and emotional burden of their own children
  • To care for grandchildren with incarcerated parents
  • To care for grandchildren whose parents have contracted HIV or other fatal illnesses
  • To reduce their grandchildren’s contact with substance-abusing parents
  • To help in transitional situations, such as a parent sent overseas to work

Issues In Parenting Grandchildren

The absence of one or both the parents is the primary emotional hurdle that the child faces, when a grandparent begins parenting him/her. The child will grieve deeply, no matter whether the absence of the parent was due to death or divorce or caused by substance abuse, child abuse or neglect.

  • Parenting grandchildren can lead to emotional conflicts and turmoil. The child who was earlier so frank and free with his/her grandparents might start shirking away.

  • Many grandparents face difficulties in meeting the educational needs of the child. They might not be able to help him/her with school matters, like homework and project.

  • Older family caregivers frequently have their own health and age-related issues that make parenting difficult.

  • The lines of family authority tend to become unclear and confused in the child’s mind. This is more pronounced when a grandparent fulfills a parent role even when the parent is present.

  • A grandparent who adopts a child becomes that child’s parent and the child’s natural parents can no longer make decisions for the child. This might create a rift between them.

  • Family harmony can be affected and relationship with other family members might become complicated.

  • Separation from peers is an issue that people face, when parenting their grandchildren. They may have to give up on activities such as meeting up with friends or taking their regular trips, in order to fulfill childcare obligations.

  • Many of the grandparents undergo psychological problem. They feel ashamed of the fact that their own child has failed as a parent and blame themselves for being the reason behind it.

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