There have always been grandparents who have raised grandchildren, but historically those grandparents only assumed those responsibilities when the grandchildren’s parents were in prison, sick or dealing with an addiction. Today’s child-rearing grandparents are also taking custody of their grandchildren because of the bad economy.

The increase in grandparent custody is nationwide, but many of the states with the highest number of children in grandparent-led households are in the South. In some southern states, at least one in ten children live with their grandparents. Nationwide, 8 percent of children live with their grandparents.

A recent survey has indicated that many of the grandparents have stepped into a parental role because their children, or their grandchildren’s parents, do not have a job. The economic recession has put a lot of people out of work and it is twice as likely that a person 25- to 34-years-old is unemployed than someone 55- to 64-years-old.

Not all grandparents are assuming full custody of their grandchildren, however. Many grandparents are providing support by babysitting, chauffeuring grandchildren to activities and appointments, and paying for some extra costs parents can no longer afford. This includes tutoring, music lessons or sports costs. Grandparents are also choosing to live closer to their children and grandchildren instead of moving to retirement communities.

One reason why these grandparents are able to either assume custody of their grandchildren or provide financial assistance to their un- or underemployed children is because they are continuing to work. A lot of younger grandparents are not eligible to retire or are foregoing retirement for more disposable income.

Source: The Daily Sentinel, “Grandparents play a bigger role in child-rearing,” Hope Yen, Aug. 26, 2011