Do You Know Grandparents who are Raising their Grandchildren?
By Lillian Penner
Many hurting grandparents are raising their grandchildren because their parents are ill, in the military, in prison, or in various situations, especially today with the Opioids epidemic.
The rewards and challenges of parenting the second time around when parents are absent or unable to raise their children, grandparents are often the ones who step in. Raising a second generation brings many rewards, along with the struggles, including the fulfillment of giving your grandkids a sense of security, developing a deeper relationship with them, and keeping the family together.
As grandparents age, raising children can sometimes be challenging. However, taking care of themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually is vital to our overall health and our ability to live prosperous lives and raise healthy grandchildren.
Generations United cites grandparents raise a 2013-2015 study by the Casey Foundation saying around 2.6 million grandchildren. The 2010 Census showed that about 8% of all grandchildren under 18 are living with grandparents. That number grew by about 30% from 2009. Ten years later, who knows what it is, especially with the opioid issues among millennial parents.
CDC estimates more than 42,000 people overdosed on opioids in 2016. Fentanyl-related drugs are one of the primary reasons. The opioid epidemic shows no sign of slowing down in the United States, with deaths from opioid-related overdoses now outpacing car accident fatalities.
If you know grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, pray for them. Many say they feel alienated and lonely because they don’t seem to fit in anywhere. Many are retired on a fixed income and find raising their grandchildren very challenging financially, physically, and emotionally. Often, they are raising their grandchildren because their parent’s lifestyle doesn’t allow them to nurture their children.
Some hurting grandparents have children and grandchildren in the military. Often grandparents have a big part in raising their grandchildren when either the mother or father or both are deployed. If you know someone who has a loved one in the military, ask them how you can pray for them, especially if their loved one is deployed. It is especially hard for them when their loved one is wounded or will not be coming home.
I am thankful I am not an estranged grandparent, but my heart breaks when I hear the stories of many grandparents who have broken hearts.
If your adult child has walked away from their faith, you are not alone. Many grandparents share your heartache. Try to keep open communication with them. Let them know you love them and pray for them even though you do not accept their behavior.
We learn the most from God when life is hard, and we have to trust Him. The same God we enjoy in our mountain-top experiences is walking with us through the valleys of our lives.
What are your options if you are an estranged grandparent?
- What should you do if you disapprove of your grandchildren’s behavior?
- What can you do to help your friends struggling with their grandchildren’s behavior or estranged from their grandchildren?
- How can you encourage grandparents who are raising their grandchildren?
- There are many hurting grandparents; start a Grandparents@Prayer group, a safe place to share your broken hearts. See Appendix for details.
Dear Father, thank you for the grandchildren you have given to us. I pray they will experience your presence with them, even though their home is not a happy, safe place at times. Give the grandparents who are raising their grandchildren physical and emotional strength, wisdom, and provisions to do the best they can under the circumstances. Help me to live a godly example before my grandchildren so they will want to walk with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren in English and Spanish. She has been on staff with the Christian Grandparenting Network prayer ministry for fourteen years, developing prayer cards, grandparents@Prayer groups, and the Grandparenting Day of Prayer. She has a passion for praying intentionally for her grandchildren and desires to share that passion with other grandparents.
An avid blogger, Lillian breaks into smiles if you ask about her thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries. They were both raised in Christian homes and desire to pass their godly heritage to their future generations. She and her husband enjoy traveling, Southern Gospel music but most of all, enjoy spending time with their family.
Photo used with permission from Tim Kilby