Often, when we think of a child custody battle, the fight is played out between two parents. In a growing number of cases, however, a third party is entering into the situation: the child’s grandparents.
All across America, children are being raised by their grandparents and the number is growing. According to the most recent census, grandparent-run households are now raising 2.4 million children.
There are a number of reasons why a grandparent may step in and assert their rights to child custody. Often, it occurs when the child’s biological parents are deemed unfit, usually due to substance abuse, illness or incarceration. In such cases, grandparents often step in and adopt the child if he or she would be taken out of the parent’s custody.
Of course, there are a number of challenges that grandparents must face when raising their grandchildren. For example, it’s often difficult for children to make the transition to their grandparent’s house. Children need to be able to think of their grandparent’s house as “home” rather than “grandpa’s house.” Grandparents should, therefore, bring many of the children’s own belongings into their house, and allow the children to spread out among the living spaces. The home should be welcoming and child-safe.
In some cases, grandparents’ homes may not be large enough to provide a bedroom for each child. Grandparents should do whatever they can to support the children’s needs for privacy and personal space.
Another barrier often faced by grandparents is the family vehicle. Grandparents may need to switch vehicles to something larger to help accommodate the extra passengers. This can be a financial hardship for some grandparents, especially if they have had a long litigation battle to get custody that has taken its toll on the finances. Most grandparents who have done so will tell it was worth every penny, though.
Despite these hardships, many grandparents in Minnesota and around the country are still willing to extend their homes to their children’s children. It’s a brave and noble decision, and one that provides opportunities for love and care for kids who are in a difficult situation.
The Hays Daily News, “Grandparents face obstacles when trying to raise grandchildren” Rarick Hall, Sep. 23, 2013