When grandparents become parents again
A way of life for many.
For some grandparents their role is more than being a warm, friendly, wise, old family member that you visit once a month.
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A child's parent might be absent or no longer able to be a parent for a number of reasons: drug abuse, death, divorce, AIDS, mental health problems, financial struggles, or a host of other modern-day complications.
This can sometimes leave grandparents in full-time care of their grandchildren.
Studies suggest that there is a significant increase in children raised by their grandparents, particularly in rural areas. About 8% of our country's children live in skip-generation households.
As is with any form of parenting it’s not an easy task and "grandparenting" has its pros and cons.
Challenges faced by grandparents who raise their grandchildren:
- Emotional stress: The burden felt by grandparents in the process of raising children.
- Health: Grandparents raising grandchildren might not be as physically able as parents.
- Generation gap: Grandparents might have a lack of skills to understand social media, what’s happening in the world and that some things have changed.
- Finance: Many grandparents have to go back to work in order to support their grandchildren.
- Parental roles such as helping with homework, attending school functions and healthy guidance can be a strain.
But not all grandparents face the same problems. For those lucky to have grandparents who are fully able to parent grandchildren there is much to gain.
The beauty of being raised by grandparents:
- In cases where parents are no longer able to raise their kids, those who are lucky enough to have the support of their grandparents might have a slightly different experience growing up.
- You learn to become independent pretty quickly, which might not seem like something a child should have to do when they're young, but it's far better than not having anyone to raise you at all.
- Grandparents might not be completely 'with it' with regards to understanding exactly what you're going through at school or with friends, but their knowledge of raising children isn't limited. They've done it before and they're likely to have a lot of words of wisdom when it comes to the bigger picture.
Being raised by grandparents might leave you feeling like you're different from your friends. The hardest part is having to explain to other people why you don't live with your parents.
There are hundreds of children across South Africa who live with their grandparents but there are also children without any care at all.
Are you living in a skip-generation household? Send us your comment to email@example.com.
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