What grandparents say about raising their grandchildren

The percentage of the population 30 years and older living with grandchildren has increased from 3.6 percent in 2000 to 3.8 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In almost half of these families, the grandparents had primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren. As the sole caregiver of your grandkids, you may be facing many burdens, but we need to remember the many positives as well. As one grandmother noted, “Nothing can feel better than the hugs I get.”

When grandparents were asked about the things they loved about parenting their grandkids, the responses seemed to fall into two categories. First, grandparents felt they were contributing to the well-being of their grandchildren. And at the same time, the kids were helping them in positive ways.

When you are raising your grandchildren, you know that they are safe and happy in an environment free from conflict or abuse. The children are getting the things they so desperately need, such as unconditional love and a sense of family.

As a grandparent, you have the chance to give the children what they may not be getting from anyone else. You can make a difference in their lives. And you can pass on the family traditions and share family stories.

Most grandparents report that their own lives are enriched by raising their grandchildren. Some find it emotionally uplifting to have a child in the house again. Having kids around can increase interest in daily life and reduce feelings of depression. As one grandmother stated, “I am less apt to sit and watch TV as much. I don’t have time for that now.”

Many grandparents say that they feel needed and useful, and the children have given new meaning to their lives. They often feel a sense of pride watching the children progress.

There will be days when you have to focus on the positives or else the negatives will overwhelm you. Begin by taking one-step at a time, and then do more as needed. Very often, the burdens you feel now will change into positive opportunities later on.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is a series of fact sheets offered by UW- Extension designed for grandparents as well as for professionals who work with grandparents. Grandparents may use the sheets to get information about relationships and child development that is hard to find in other places. Professionals may wish to use the sheets to start discussion in support groups or to give out to grandparents.

Contact your local Human Development and Relationships Extension Educator to receive the fact sheets and other great resources at tierany.rugg@ces.uwex.edu or by calling 715-528-4480, ext. 5.