Over the years, more and more grandparents -- especially single grandfathers -- have been raising their grandchildren. In turn this has meant a loving, caring and supportive home for many children, and has even kept grandfathers feeling younger as they buy things like iPods and plan birthday parties. However, it should be noted that these living situations are family law matters where legal issues can arise.
According to U.S. Census figures, there are more than 5.8 million children under the age of 18 living in a household that is headed by a grandparent. These situations range from there being just one grandparent, to both, to even having the actual parents of the children also living in the home. However, of the 7 million grandparents who have a child living with them, roughly 40 percent report taking care of their grandchildren. In some areas, like Missouri, the percentage is even higher.
When looking at why more grandparents are raising their grandchildren, while the recession and financial struggles for some parents is often cited as a reason, the executive director of Grandparents as Parents points to the fact that troubles, such a incarceration and drug or alcohol problems by the parents, are also common reasons for grandparents to step up in terms of parenting.
Outside of the fact that more and more grandparents are raising children, there has also been an increase in the number of single grandfathers taking care of grandchildren. In fact, from 2007 to 2010 the percentage of single grandfathers taking care of a grandchild increased from 7.2 percent to 8.2 percent. For single grandmothers, the percentage increase was less.
Sources also point to the fact that more single grandfathers can be attributed to the fact that with an increase in Baby Boomer divorces, there are now more single grandfathers. And since these men are more likely to have more money, it seems like a more natural fit.
However, this isn't to say that the transition always runs smoothly, as there can be struggles between a grandparent and the biological parent regarding custody and visitation issues. In those cases, an attorney can help in terms of what course of action should be taken in order to make sure the best interests of the child are at the forefront of decision making.
Source: Kansas City Star, "More grandpas take on the role of single parent," Eric Adler, June 16, 2012