Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


Most Popular


The Granny Nanny Phenomenon

Michelle Obama's mother isn't the only grandparent who is giving up some independence to watch her grandchildren.

For Candace Turner, life in East Texas was anything but easy. She was living far from her grown children and having trouble making ends meet. The secretarial positions she could find barely paid above the minimum wage.

So when her daughter, Leah, asked if Turner, 58, would move back to Houston and help care for Leah’s three children, she packed her bags and moved into her daughter’s spare bedroom.

“I am used to being real independent and having my own space, and I miss that part,” Turner says. “But the rewards far, far, far outweigh any inconveniences.”

For Turner, the fulfillment comes from being such an important part of her grandchildren’s lives. There are the three she lives with—Ryan, 17, Dillon, 7, and Emily, 1—and her son’s 3-year-old daughter, Paige, who also spends her weekdays with “Meemaw.”

“It is not like I am just here to make sure if the house burns down I get them out real quick,” Turner says, emphasizing that she takes the job seriously. “I play with them all day. I like to spend time with them and teach them things. I love watching them grow up.”

Grandma steps in
The number of multigenerational households is growing. In 2000, 4.8 percent of households were multigenerational. In 2008, that number climbed to 5.3 percent, the first time the number of homes with more than one generation has increased in over a century. Turner is one of 6.2 million grandparents who have moved in with their adult children. The most famous member of this clique is probably Marian Robinson, mother of first lady Michelle Obama, who has moved from Chicago’s South Side into the White House, if only briefly, to help her granddaughters Malia and Sasha adjust to their new lives.

Not every grandparent is being offered the option of living in the White House. So what accounts for this sudden trend in family togetherness? The economy, for one thing. Child care costs increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation from 2006 to 2007, according to a study by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). U.S. Census figures show that the average household with an employed mother and children under age 5 paid $129 per week for child care.

“I talk with my friends, and all of us are pitching in,” says Lee Edwards Benning, author of The Granny-Nanny Handbook: A Guide for Parents & Grandparents Who Share Child Care (Cleveland Clinic Press, 2006). She helps care for her three grandchildren, ages 8, 6 and 4, four days a week while their parents work. “With [mothers] going back to work, with this recession and with child care being so costly, we just have to help out.”

But obligation isn’t the only motivating factor. “People are living longer and they’re also living more active and healthy lives,” says AARP family expert Amy Goyer. “So they are capable in their 60s and 70s — and some in their 80s — to help out with child care.”

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.



National and state fact sheets listing services, programs,  benefits, laws and policies for grandparents raising children. Read

GrandFamilies Guide

Information, tips and tools for grandparents raising grandchildren. Read


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Carrabba's Italian Grill Chicken Plate, Member Benefits

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members can save $3 on any size popcorn and soft drink combo at Regal Cinemas.

membership ancestry

Members save 30% on  a one-year subscription to

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Being Social


Wisdom Circle

Join our circle to ask for — or give — advice on topics such as love, friendship, grief, parenting and grandparenting. Discuss

Grandparenting: Joys & Challenges

There are many joys from being a grandparent, so let's celebrate them together! Discuss

Raising Grandchildren

Grandparent caring for grandkids share tips and discuss challenges, solutions and triumphs along the way. Join