By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times
It is estimated that as many as three million children of all ages in this country are being reared by their grandparents as a result of divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, and other circumstances.
In most cases, the problems befalling the biological parents were beyond the control of the children made homeless.
For example, Kentucky today has more foster children in its custody than at any time in our state’s history. In recent years, that sad fact was largely due to the opioid epidemic which has had a deadly resurgence during the current phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
A retired elementary teacher told us that the number of children in her class living with one or both grandparents steadily increased for several years to the point that non-parent households now are in the majority.
That seems in line with the national statistic that shows the divorce rate in this country is very close to 50 percent for first marriages and even higher for second and third.
Some childcare experts say some children raised by their grandparents are at an increased risk of emotional and behavioral problems when they reach adulthood. That’s because many have experienced divided loyalties, rejection, loss, guilt, and anger as a result of living away from their biological parents.
Recently, it was most gratifying to meet a set of grandparents who are fully committed to helping a grandchild grow up as well adjusted as possible. In fact, they make 100-mile roundtrips once or twice a week to make sure their 12-year-old goes to church and to youth activities with other kids her own age.
Both of those grandparents are in their 60’s and in relatively good health with a comfortable standard of living. They are involved in their granddaughter’s school activities and try not to be too indulgent in terms of spending money, clothes, electronic devices, etc.
As a grandparent myself, I greatly admire those senior citizens who are engaged, voluntarily or otherwise, in a second chance at parenting. It’s a tough job but that’s what you do for the people you love, especially the little ones.
Keith Kappes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org