FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: BEN TANZER
(W): 312-663-3520 X823
Recognizing and Supporting Grandparents as Parents
CHICAGO, IL, September 30, 2013 – Many of us celebrate our parents in May or June. But for over 5.4 million individuals, that appreciation comes in September – Grandparent’s Month – as the time to recognize the men and women who raise them; and with September coming to a close, we would like to express our appreciation for them as well.
According to the Population Reference Bureau, the rate of grandparents raising children has more than doubled since 1970, increasing from 3%, to 7% in 2010. As the number of children being raised in “grandfamilies” continues to grow, so does the importance of our communities to support these grandparents in ways that most assist their unique situation.
Grandparents are impacted differently than other parents including increasing health costs due to advancing age and fixed or a lower monthly income due to retirement. Similarly, children who come to live with their grandparents often face a new environment, away from friends and familiar faces, even if only a few blocks away, a situation that may result in isolation or bullying.
In situations such as these, support from the community can make all of the difference. Neighbors and friends can help these new-again parents by doing simple things such as offering to babysit which gives these grandparents well deserved respite, bringing home-cooked meals, combining grandparent errands with their own, or simply by taking the time to express our gratitude for the important decision they have made.
For those who are grandparents themselves, supporting peers who are raising children can be done in a different but equally important way. Offering to start or lead a grandparent-specific support group can give people a chance to not only sit down with others who are in a similar situation, but share tips and stories in a group setting that can be beneficial to the social and mental health for grandparents.
Simply being around like-minded people can be a huge help to grandparents by further building their support system of friends and confidants, and by helping children open the door to friendships with other nearby children. For other ideas specific to grandparents, GRAND Magazine, a magazine that is a good friend and partner to Prevent Child Abuse America, contains a wealth of information and support for grandparents nationwide.
But even if you don’t know a grandparent in need directly, you can still play a role in helping these families by volunteering at daycare programs or pre- and post-school programs that give grandparents who are still working a safe-place to leave the children while they are out providing for their family. It is also important that community members ensure grandparents get access to the same community services available to other parents. In many ways the wisdom and experience of our grandparents is a gift and resource they are happy to share with others.
Grandparents who are raising children again do so with joy and grace, but that doesn’t mean a little help would go unappreciated. So this September, I encourage people to not only recognize the important job that many grandparents have undertaken, but also to take their lessons of love and generosity and pass it on in our own special manner.
Together we can support not only the men and women raising their grandchildren, but also the healthy development of children everywhere.