Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren, a National Issue that Deserves More Coverage
In 2007 my twin grandchildren lost both of their parents in separate car crashes. Suddenly, and without any warning, my husband and I were GRGs -- grandparents raising grandchildren. When I searched the Internet for help, I found general books about grandparenting, but few about grandparents raising their grandchildren.
Several resources looked like encylopedias. I didn't need an encylopedia; I needed practical information to help me make it to the next hour, the next day, the next week, and beyond. On a statistical basis, my husband and I knew there were other GRGs in the community, but we never met them. Our grandchildren were 15 years old when they moved in with us and are 20 1/2 now. We have yet to meet another "grandfamily" like ours.
The twins (one boy, one girl) graduated from high school with honors, received college scholarships, are on the Dean's List, and incoming college juniors. As the years passed, I collected information about grandparents raising grandchildren and finally wrote a book about the issue. Why should you write about it?
The first answer is numbers and the statistics are startling. According to an AARP website report, "About GrandFacts," 5.8 million children in our nation live with their grandparents. Two million more children live with other relatives. Millions of grandparents -- more than 2.5 million of them -- are caring for their grandchildren. These are the GRGs we know about and there may be more.
The health and welfare of children is another reason to cover this issue. As a GRG, my role is to protect and nurture the next generation. This is essential to the survival of our family and, in the long run, the survival of our nation. Unfortunately, many grandparents who are raising their grandchildren live in isolation. "They lack information about the range of support services, rsources, programs, benefits, laws and policies available to help them successfully fulfill their caregiving role," AARP explains.
You may obtain state-by-state statistics from the AARP website. Additional information may be obtained from the National Center for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren at Georgia State University. The local senior center and elder network, if your community has one, should also be able to provide information. Statistics are good, but Judy and Joe Average remember stories best. This is where you come in, for there are countless stories to tell.
The stories you write will help millions of children, and their loving grandparents, have better lives. If you haven't written about this issue, I hope you will. If you've already written a story about it, I hope you will write another. We need to keep this issue in the spotlight.
Image by McBeth via Flickr