Grandparents raising their grandkids -the start of the second story

Grandchild When the opportunity to have one of my grandchildren live with me on a permanent basis came up, a few things came to my mind.

1. Was I ready for raising another child?

2. Was I ready to give up my “freedom?”

3. Did I have what it would take to raise a child in this ever-changing world?

4. Did I have the necessary resources—financially and socially—to take this on?

I decided, along with my spouse, that we were, indeed, ready for these challenges and we were about to take the proverbial “bull by the horns.”

In all honesty, we could not have said “no” to our precious granddaughter. We just knew we would give it all we had to make her have an absolutely amazing life. We were willing to make whatever sacrifices would be necessary to make this happen for her.

Why are more and more grandparents raising their grandkids?

Grandparents with GrandchildrenAccording to an article by AARP, there are around 5 million grandchildren being raised by their grandparents. That number varies a bit depending on where you are reading, but regardless of the number nationally, you can probably point out a handful or more grandparents raising grandkids right where you live.

As the national average rises for grandparents raising their grandkids, I decided to ask a couple of my friends who work in the mental health and foster care fields what their thoughts were on this subject.

I asked a friend who works as a social worker at the county level what they thought was happening.

She replied that because it is very expensive to place children in foster care, they often do a “family search” to see if there is a family member who can take in the children rather than sending them to the foster care setting.

That made a lot of sense, especially for the area we live in because it is one of the poorer counties in the state of Minnesota. Also, because of my work as a journalist for one of our local newspapers, I covered the county commissioner meetings and knew that they had recently approved hiring someone to do family searches.

From the personal experience of a friend whose children were placed with her parents, I know this is not always a “happy” solution. My friend’s parents did not want to be “saddled” with the responsibility of raising their grandkids. They enjoyed the freedom of being able to go wherever they wanted whenever they wanted without having to worry about getting a babysitter.

One friend who does home visits of youth in the mental health arena noted that what he sees is that if the grandparents had done their job right in the first place with their own kids, they might not be in the situation of raising their grandchildren in the second place.

While I understood his answer, I took exception with it simply because it is not always true. My spouse and I did well with raising our children. However, our youngest daughter had a brain injury which caused problems and made it difficult for her to make sound decisions. At the time that we received custody of our granddaughter, our daughter was also heavily into drugs which she began as a result of her brain injury.

Perhaps many grandparents are raising their grandchildren because of poor parenting in the first place, but that is really a “relative” comment because every situation is different. We’ll talk more about this in a later post.

A second chance/a second story

So, you are a grandparent who now has the awesome task of raising your grandchild(en) for whatever reason. Now what?

My spouse and I like to look at this opportunity as a second chance—a second “story” so to speak, for us to be able to make a difference in the life of a child.

It isn’t easy, there is no doubt about that. You do have to change your life. You might have to give up “date night” for a while. You might have to spend more time at home. You might have to “bust a move” now and then! (Our granddaughter loves to dance!) Your life will change, but this is your “second story” and you can make a lot of choices as to how that story will go.

Relearning the ropes

Grandparents and grandchildren at a partyIt had been a while since we’d had children in our home as parents. Several years, in fact. We had other grandchildren who came to visit, but not who stayed for more than over a weekend or a few days.

We had to relearn how to take care of a baby. Things change over the course of time, methods, procedures and the like, but the basics do stay the same thankfully. All babies need to have their diapers changed, they need to eat and they need to cuddle and be loved!

Since I met my spouse when her (our) children were a little older and were out of diapers, I didn’t have that experience of changing a “poopy” one! It wasn’t something I looked forward to, but when our granddaughter moved in with us on a permanent basis, it is something I learned to do for her. I learned how to feed her and lay her down for a nap and for bedtime at night. I learned how to tell if she just wanted to be held or if she was hungry.

Our other daughter gave us a lot of tips and pointers and helped us with her niece as much as she could. It was helpful because thing shad changed since my spouse had babies. Because she had three youngsters of her own, she had a lot of insight which helped us navigate the murky water of getting back into the habits necessary for raising a baby.

It is amazing, though, how quickly you find yourself doing what has to be done. You go to the store in the middle of the night because baby has a cough and you need to get something to soothe them. You take a day off work because baby is sick. In fact, my spouse quit her job so she could stay home with our granddaughter for a while. I also quit one of my three jobs, so that I would have more time to spend with the family.

Grand parenting—not for the weak of heart

Grandparent superheroes But now we were in a precarious situation—that of being grandparents and parents to our granddaughter.

Don’t get me wrong, we love all of our grandchildren, and we love spoiling them. But we also liked having our time alone and it was nice to see them go home with their parents after a fulfilling visit with us!

Now, we were placed in the role of not only being able to spoil our granddaughter, but also having to deal with her tantrums. We had to be the disciplinarians as well as the spoilers! It is definitely not for the weak of heart! We’ll get into this more in a later post, as well.

Just the beginning…

Our granddaughter is five now and we’ve been raising her since she was around six months old. With each new day comes a new thing we have to learn, a new person we are helping to mold and a life we are hoping to make a big difference in!

Is it worth it? For us, it has been 100% worth it. There are times we struggle, but we have found many useful resources and we are more than willing to share what we’ve learned with you…

To your journey and the continuation of ours…







  1. Being a mother raising 2 grand daughters has been a life changing event. I had lost my husband and was raising my 2 grand daughters (to my daughter from a previous marriage). I got the oldest one at the age of 2 and then my daughter was pregnant again and the I took on a newborn as well.
    It was VERY challenging getting up in the middle of the night feeding a baby and then getting up to get my 2 little ones ready for school.
    Would I change anything? No. Like you said, I wanted to make sure all of them were given the best life possible.
    It isn’t always the parents fault for what their children do or don’t do. The worker you spoke of should have known this, due to the line of work he was in.
    I am still dedicated to it and it has been over 10 years since my life changed and so did theirs.
    Like you said we can no longer spoil them and send them home. But how awesome is it to be there for their smiling faces and hearing their laughter that other wise might be sounds of sobbing when they realize that they were being raised by a stranger.
    I will be looking forward to reading more of your story.

    • Lee Ann, I really appreciate your comments as you know where I am coming from. We have a hard job, but an exciting and fulfilling job! I am truly blessed to be in the “situation” I am.

  2. What a task you have taken on Karin, I take my hat off to you! And I am sure raising your Granddaughter will bring many wonderful experiences to your family unit. I cant believe that mental health workers attitude of if the parents had done their job right in the first place with their own kids, they might not be in the situation of raising their grandchildren in the second place. Does he speak for all situations? I think he might be in the wrong field if he is going to categorize every situation with such a generalization! I wish you well on your journey!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It is a rough job, but I think parenting itself is a difficult task—no matter who is doing it! As far as my friend in mental health, I think he was just speaking in a generalization simply because of the specific field he is in which is counseling kids. I think he sees a lot of bitterness and despair from kids whose parents are genuinely not doing the job they need to be doing with their kids.
      Thank you and I commend you for the work you are doing, as well!

  3. Well, first of all, great job on taking on such a large responsibility. It is hard raising a child, but me being a bit older than most mothers, realize that the energy it takes the older you get is hard. I was 45 before adopting my son, and I realize that the energy I had them compared to now at 56 is a big difference. I commend you for changing your life and adding this extra responsibility.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I think there is a lot of merit in what we do as parents/grandparents when we are older and have a bit more wisdom. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hi Karen,

    Lovely post and really great website! My partner and I are grand parents now and we absolutely love it. We are lucky in that we can hand them back at the end of the day but certainly if circumstances changed we would not hesitate to look after them permanently.

    I think every parent and grand parent needs to read this post and your website. I will share it on my social networks. Thanks so much for this much needed resource,


    • Thank you for you kind words, Kevin! Thank you for sharing! I have high hopes that I can help someone who is struggling or feeling alone.

  5. This post takes me back to my childhood. I grew up in an extended family with my grandmother and several cousins. My grandmother took care of many grand kids. I really don’t know how she did it in those days, but I think it was easier to raise kids in those days. There is certainly “food for thought” in this post. Never can tell, I might just fall into this one day. Great information to reflect on.

    • Thanks for the great comments. I guess it is only as hard as we make it. But kids these days are more into getting things now! Hmmmm….I think I had a little of that in me (and still do)!

  6. Thanks for the informative article Karin, I can’t imagine how hard grandparents work and how much they are responsible for their grandkids development. Its a hard job and im glad im not a grandparent just yet.

    • It is really a lot like being a parent—except we’re older! It is a lot of work, but ultimately very fulfilling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *