Grandparents Get Going Raising Grandchildren

Often, grandparents play a big role in the lives of their grandchildren, and the stereotype of the doting grandparent is replaced with the active role of a substitute parent. 5 million American children now live in a grandparent-headed home - 10 percent of the country’s children.

The most famous example of the influence of a grand parent is Madelyn Payne Dunham, the late grandmother of President Barak Obama. She and husband, Stanley, raised their grandson for several years so he could attend school in Honolulu.

Many grandparents remain active and are not prime cases for Assisted Living or Continuing Care Residences, and continue to play a large role in the family.

Donna Crawford, North Carolina Cherokee County's Director of Social Services talked positively about the upswing in grandparents. “In this day and age, many of our grandparents are middle-age people. Now grandparents make you think back to 70 and 80 year olds. Some are in their late 30s, early 40s. It is not an uncommon thing anymore,” Crawford told The Andrews Journal.

"Sometimes," said Crawford, "their children have moved in.” She added, “sometimes it’s three generations all under one roof. Because of the economic times, they’ve had to move back or they’ve lost their homes."

Rhonda Cagle, in Andrews, North Carolina, has guardianship over her grandkids, Isaak, 7, and Kaleb Mauck, 4, and is applying for adoption, having hired a lawyer to begin the process. The boys' mother died from a drug overdose and their father is basically uninvolved.

She told The Andrews Journal: “I wasn’t planning on raising children. We were just starting to enjoy that all our children were grown. It’s like starting over again, and it’s a real hard distinction between being a grandparent and a parent.” She added: “I had a lot of issues with that because I have a tendency to baby them and not do correct discipline."

Ms. Cagle worries about the generation gap, especially when the boys become teenagers; she'll be older and have more difficulties with parenting.