One of the most basic human needs is having a family. Once we get to a certain age, the age that is allowed by our parents’ standards, they get anxious for grandchildren. They might show this directly by asking when to knit a nice cozy baby blanket, or passively, by telling us how happy their friends were at the mall with their grandchildren. The day they get to become grandparents is marked by joyous celebrations and unending gifts for the bundle of joy. However, a number of things, positive and negative, might cause them to take over the upbringing of their grandchildren completely.
• Death of parents. Death of the mother, in most cases, have caused children to be left in the custody of their grandparents.
• Work. The type of work the parent(s) are involved in might create a need for the child to be brought up by the grandparents, such as the military.
• Drugs use and drug addiction. The opioid crisis has caused most grandparents to get full custody of their grandchildren, due to the parent’s addiction or drug use. It’s not an easy step, but it gives the parents a space to battle drug addiction.
• Abuse and neglect. It’s not uncommon, in this age, for children to be abused by their parents and fail to report to the authorities, though there are laws to prevent that and punish those with the responsibility. Most of these cases are in households where there are stepchildren involved. It falls on the grandparents to get custody and protect their children.
The factors pointed above, plus others, causes the grandparents to have to take over the parenting role for their grandchildren. This creae ts a number of challenges for them, and for the children and the society at large. It becomes especially difficult for them if they are suffering from age-related illnesses or lack income to enable smooth parenting. The following are some of the challenges related to grandparents raising their grandchildren.
1. Challenges caused by disabilities. This is a two-way problem. A child could have a disability ,or the grandparents could be disabled. Talk to a professional about SSI vs SSDI. This becomes a challenge especially if there are frequent medical issues and no insurance coverage.
2. Proper education. The children, in case of a poor background, might fail to acquire a proper education, or any at all, due to lack of funds and doing odd jobs to help support the family. Though the grandparents might be willing to do their best to support their new family, their best might not always be enough, forcing the eldest siblings to participate in earning income for the family.
3. Lack of basic needs. This challenge is also brought about by a lack of finances or a good source of income. The family might be subjected to very limited basic needs, like clothing, food, education, and sanitation. There are occasions where the family is composed of too many grandchildren, or with a number of kids from different families.
4. Exposure to drugs and abuse. Some of the children being left in their grandparent’s care were exposed to drugs in the first years of the lives both passively and actively. Others, under the same cause, have suffered emotional and physical abuse. This means that they will need constant medical care and therapy sessions to help them manage their situations. They will also need a strong support system around them.
5. Lack of legal custody rights. Since most parents refuse to give up their children willingly, the grandparents lack the legal custody rights of their grandchildren, even though they do have custody of them. This means that they might not be able to make needed decisions in terms of the children education or medical decisions. It also means the grandparents can face legal action if the parents try to reclaim their rights as parents.
Though most of these grandparent and grandchildren families live below the federal poverty line and lack finances, the joy of grandparenting is not fully diminished. Most grandparents still enjoy the second chance to be parents and spending time with their grandkids. It gives them a new purpose in life. For the children, being brought up by more mature and experienced parents gives them a better chance at facing real-life challenges. Some of these children end up the best human beings in society.