Grandparents, the Guardians of their Grandchildren
A research study entitled "The Generation of Transition; between Work and Retirement", reveals that for thousands of years the family model included not only a father and a mother who were good parents, but also a grandmother who helped them with the task of child raising.
Grandparents work as nurses, guardians and teachers for their grandchildren. This type of support makes it possible for many moms to be integrated back into the labor market. Some families function better with grandparents. In times of economic crisis, this type of supportive cooperation is vital.
One of the most troubling concerns revealed by the U.S. Census is the growing number of children that are being raised by their grandparents; 2.4 million grandparents are responsible for raising 4.4 million grandchildren. The Economist reports that a third of these grandparents, as head of households, had not completed secondary education and 62% had not gone to the university. About 70% exceed the age 50 years, while 70% of children were 11 years old in average.
The Afro-American community is the one that faces the toughest conditions. Under the age of 18, about 70.9% of children of the household head are white and 13.3% are black (similar percentage of blacks in the population as a whole), while in the case of grandchildren of the household head, 48.6% are white and 32.3% are black.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explains the causes of this workload for grandparents are due to an increase in single-parent families, high divorce rates, increase in teenage pregnancies, and parental incapacitation for imprisonment, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence.
Grandparents are exposed to physical and psychological fatigue, and it becomes especially difficult when dealing with children coming from broken and conflictive homes. Stress and fatigue related to work and responsibility are the main signs of the "slave grandmother" syndrome.
There are programs designed to help grandparents who must raise their grandchildren. The most requested service is financial aid to hire a temporary assistant during the holidays. Other than these aids, grandparents should be given homage with a grand monument. (Translated by Gianna A. Sanchez-Moretti).
Author and journalist Clemente Ferrer has led a distinguished career in Spain in the fields of publicity and press relations. He is currently President of the European Institute of Marketing.