Grandparents increasingly are being pressed into service to raise their grandkids, but they seem to be holding their own, new research shows, even though the kids can be more argumentative and many grandparents wish they had someone to turn to for emotional support.
Researchers from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York reviewed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health and compared data from nearly 45,000 parent-led households with findings from 1,250 grandparent-led households. They found grandparents and parents were close on most measures of coping, stress or caregiver-child interactions, with nearly three-quarters of the grandparents saying they were handling the day-to-day demands “very well.’’
One difference noted was the attitudes of the kids under their grandparents’ care. They were more argumentative, more likely to become angry or anxious with transitions, and faster to lose their temper — understandable given the circumstances that brought them to the care of their grandparents.
The researchers pointed to the opioid epidemic as a major factor in the growing number of grandparents raising children, which now tops 2.9 million in the United States.
The grandparents reported worse physical and mental health as a result of the added responsibilities, and they wished they had more emotional support. They also said they did not have a “Plan B” in place for raising the children in the event of a crisis.
The grandparents did have one advantage over the younger caregivers: They’ve done this before. From experience comes wisdom, the researchers noted, and that can make parenting a bit easier the second time around.