chapter  1
16 Pages

Grandparenting in the United States

The role of grandparenting in the United States is diversifying. One-half of those ages 50-64 and 80% of those 65 and older are grandparents (Livingston and Parker, 2010). While some grandparents have little or no contact whatsoever with their grandchildren, others are involved in almost every aspect of the daily care and support of their grandchildren. In between lies the vast majority of grandparents who provide occasional to frequent assistance of a wide variety of types. Spending time caring for grandkids can be very rewarding. A PEW study asked people to rank what they valued most about growing older and 31% of the women and 19% of the men ages 65-74 ranked spending time with their grandchildren as the benefit of aging they valued most (Livingston and Parker, 2010). But it may also be emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting, particularly for those who are employed, providing more intense care, or coping with fewer resources (Harrington Meyer, 2014). Some grandparents do very little grandparenting. Given the retreat from marriage, the increase in births to single mothers, rising divorce and remarriage rates, and geographical mobility, many grandparents may be unaware they have a grandchild, have no access to that grandchild, or live too far away for meaningful contact. As Cherlin (2010) and Cherlin and Furstenburg (2009) describe, modern American families form and reform, sometimes at dizzying speeds, and the roles that grandparents play may change accordingly. In fact, some grandparents are removed and uninvolved. NACCRRA (2008) found that even among grand - parents who live in the same neighborhood as their grandchildren, fully one-half did not provide any grandchild care whatsoever. Some grandparents face too much stress in their relationships with adult children; some face limits on their time, money, or health; and some are busy with other activities and do not wish to be part of an extended family support network. Grandparenting is not for everyone.