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Grandparents Report Success in Raising Grandchildren

Despite stresses on both generations, research finds that families are coping

Grandparents and grandchildren walking through leaves

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While contending with their own issues, many grandparents are raising grandchildren because their children are facing their own difficulties. Despite the hurdles and challenges, the grandchildren appear by and large to do well, new research has found.

An estimated 3 million older adults are raising their grandchildren. A significant portion is doing so because the middle generation can’t handle the duties of child-rearing.

"A large and increasing number of mothers and fathers aren't able to meet the responsibilities of parenthood, prompting their own parents to take on the primary caregiver role for their grandchildren,” Andrew Adesman, M.D., said in presenting new research to the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference. “Although these children are more likely to have endured one or more adverse childhood experiences, and the grandparents themselves often face extra health and socioeconomic hurdles, our findings suggest they appear to be coping well.” Adesman is the lead author of the study, “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Are They Up to the Job?”

Using data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, researchers found that those raising grandchildren were more likely to have their own physical and mental health problems, to be poorer than average and to have less education than the average adult. As for the grandchildren, they were more apt to have behavioral issues, including anger and anxiety.

Nonetheless, Adesman and his team determined that there was no difference, whether it was grandparents or parents who were in charge of raising the children, in their stress or coping levels.