An Explo ra tion of the Health of Ado les cents Raised by Grand par ents
In the United States, a growing number of grandparents are primarily responsible for the care of their grandchildren. In fact, recent census data indicate that there are approximately 2.7 million grandparents raising grandchildren, which reflects an increase of 16% since 2000 (Murphey, Cooper, and Moore, 2012; Pew Research Center, 2010). These grandparents are providing care for 2.9 million children and adolescents, a number that represents 40% of the approximately one in ten or 7.8 million American children who coreside with a grandparent (Kreider and Ellis, 2011). Numerous explanations have been given for the growth in grandfamilies, a term used to refer to families in which a grandparent is providing the majority of the care and parenting for one or more grandchildren. Most common are difficulties associated with the grandchild’s parents and include parental incarceration, death or illness, substance abuse, and/or child abuse and neglect (Hayslip and Kaminski, 2005). However, cultural values of grandmother involvement in the care of children (Goodman and Silverstein, 2006) and federal and state policies that advocate for the placement of foster children with relatives (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2007) have also influenced the growth of grandfamilies. Although there is growing evidence of resilience among grandfamilies (Hayslip and Smith, 2013), custodial grandparents still experience a variety of challenges, including financial difficulties, legal concerns, disrupted social networks, family conflicts, parenting stress, and physical and psychological stress (Hayslip and Kaminski, 2005). Collectively, these challenges place grandparents at risk for depression and anxiety (Hayslip, Shore, Henderson, and Lambert, 1998; Minkler, Fuller-Thomson, Miller, and Driver, 1997), as well as compromised physical health (Hughes, Waite, LaPierre, and Luo, 2007; Minkler and Fuller-Thomson, 1999). Grandparents are not alone in experi encing negative outcomes; similarly, grandchildren have been found to be at risk for health problems, difficulties in school, and a variety of psychological and behavioral problems (Billing, Ehrle,
and Kortenkamp, 2002; Bramlett and Blumberg, 2007; Smith and Palmieri, 2007). Many of these problems stem from grandchildren’s histories, which may include abuse/neglect and exposure to drugs and alcohol, but may also relate to grandparents’ psychological distress and parenting stress (Smith and Dolbin-MacNab, 2013; Smith et al., 2008) as well as to accumulating and intersecting sources of oppression and marginalization (Keene and Batson, 2010).