Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Essay

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Essay

The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren is constantly increasing and scientists predict that this number will grow even more in recent years. The United States Census Bureau (2001) found that the number of children who are brought up by their grandparents has increased to 641,000 in comparison with the year 1992. The most common reasons of such situation are parental death, AIDS, drug abuse, desertion, divorce and some others. Children raised by their grandparents can be found among different social classes and religions. “Nonetheless, some variation by ethnicity is evident with 13.5% of African American, 6.5% of Hispanic, and 4.1% of Caucasian American children living in such families.”(Fuller-Thomson & Minkler, 117). Today over 5.6 million grandparents live with their grandchildren. Almost 4 million grandchildren have their grandparents as primary caregivers.


The statistics show that there are more and more grandparents raising their grandchildren and so the problem is of current importance nowadays. The question is whether it is good or bad for a child became really important. There are a lot of reasons pro and contra grandparents raising their grandchildren. From one point of view grandparents have great life experience; they have already had their own children and so can be perfect parents for another generation of children. Now they are aware of mistakes they have made with their children and so will not commit these errors once more. Due to their life experience they have their life priorities and ideals. Grandparents are usually retired, so they can devote all their time to their grandchildren. At the same time they are less ambitious and are not interested in making their own careers. Children would be surrounded by love, care and warmth, while their young parents will have time for their careers. Sometimes grandparents completely replace parents as a result of their adult children’s divorce, death, not planned pregnancy, domestic violence and so on. In such situation grandparents’ care becomes the only alternative. “Additionally, physical and emotional child abuse as well as drug use and incarceration among some parents resulted in social service agencies removing sizable numbers of children from the homes of these parents and placing them with a relative, frequently the children’s grandparents” (Fuller-Thomson & Minkler, 2000; Harden, Clark, & Maguire, 89).

From another point of view grandparents will never be able to replace real parents. Firstly, grandparents older than biological parents. In addition they may have serious health problems. They are retired and so have much time for their grandchildren but at same time they have less vital force and energy. Numerous researches show that grandparents, who start bringing up their grandchildren experience stress, which results in depressions and illnesses. “These grandparents may encounter problems providing appropriate care to children who manifest difficult adjustment.” (Poehlmann, 117). Studies show that children grown by their grandparents more often suffer from weakened immune system, physical disabilities, asthma, poor eating and insomnia. At the same time grandparents are also in a poorer health condition and the most spread problem is multiple chronic health disabilities. (Minkler, 1997)

Grandchildren’s serious behavioral problems may have a great impact on their grandparents’ health and lead to emotive and physical problems. Researches show that majority of grandchildren brought up by their grandparents either have had serious problems with their biological parents or do not have parents at all and these children usually have personality disorders and behavioral problems, as a result.
Second great problem is big generation gap between grandparents and grandchildren. Grandparents were brought up in another social, cultural and political surrounding and so their ideas about cultural norms and standards do not always coincide with their grandchildren’s ones. This fact can lead to misunderstanding and strained relations and so make an atmosphere in the family worse. “Children raised by caregivers who experience emotional and physical distress may concomitantly demonstrate inappropriate or delinquent behavior and problems in school.” (Rogers & Henkin, 263)

Grandparents are not always able to cope with some school subjects because of limited knowledge and experience in modern technologies and innovations. They may have less energy and potential to help their grandchildren to be successful academically. “In addition, impoverished, physically fragile, sicker, or older grandparents may have a difficulty transporting themselves to the school, preventing them from meeting with teachers and school counselors and actively involving themselves in the child’s education” (Edwards, 198). These problems may result in difficult educational experience especially taking into account the fact that these children lack their parents.

Another serious problem is grandparents’ age. Grandparents are approximately three times older than grandchildren and there is a high probability that grandparents can die when the child does not reach even 18 years old. It is even difficult to imagine what kind of stress it will be for children, especially if they do not communicate with their biological parents or have lost them.

Great age difference leads to different points of view in cultural and social issues; it also results in weak health of grandparents. They can feel too tired to take such a responsibility and bring up one more generation of children. “Some custodial grandparents may feel ambivalence or even anger regarding their reentry into a parenting role.” (Hayslip, 112)

To sum up, nowadays more and more children are brought up by their grandparents. Parental death, AIDS, violence in biological family, unwillingness of parents are among the most widespread reasons of such state of events. This problem requires immediate solution because on the one hand grandparents have much more life experience than biological parents and can devote a lot of time to their grandchildren’s upbringing but at the same time they will never completely replace real parents. First of all, grandparents usually have weak health and so can not give children enough care. Then, there is a great generation gap between grandparents and grandchildren and sometimes it is really difficult to overcome this problem. Another thing is old age of grandparents. They do not have enough energy to look after children. There is a great possibility that children brought up by their grandparents will suffer from personality disorders and behavioural problems and it is always necessary to take this fact into account before making a decision to take such a responsibility.
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