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SALT LAKE CITY — There’s dried fettuccini on the bathroom floor, which is a variation from the usual wet towels, but this time it’s not the teenagers’ fault.
Our 2-year-old granddaughter — whom we baby-sit on a regular basis while her mother works and goes back to school — has been rummaging around the cupboards.
Like many people our age, my 50-something husband and I are on the tail end of raising one set of kids when we find ourselves presented with the next generation. We had assumed, like our own parents before us, that our grandparenting duties would consist of a regular weekend visit or play dates in the park, but according to Generations United, a nonprofit national organization dedicated to improving lives across the generations, in the past two decades, there has been a 64 percent increase of grandchildren living with their grandparents.
U.S. census figures show that an increasing number of children are relying upon their grandparents for their daily care, either full or part time. Roughly 9 percent of all children in the United States — some 6.6 million — lived with a grandparent in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau site. The majority of these children, 4.4 million, lived in the grandparent’s home.
However, a grandchild does not have to be a full-time member of a grandparent’s home for the impact to be felt: 30 percent of all children under 5 whose mothers work outside the home are cared for by their grandparents. That’s a lot of fettuccini on the floor.
Children add stress to the day, as we all learned the first time around, and it doesn’t help when you think you’re all alone in this endeavor. For this reason, it’s good to know that there are resources to provide further information, answer questions, and maybe just jog your memory about classic bedtime storybooks.
The Internet’s a great place to start, and these sites are worth mentioning:
AARP — The resource for life after 50, AARP’s Grand Families guide covers finances, legal concerns, caregiving support and safety in an easy to navigate site.
Generations United — This nonprofit organization’s site provides basic information and helpful links to private and public resources concerning finances, legal issues, social concerns and intergenerational learning activities.
Grandparents.com — Joining is free, but even without registering you can explore and access coloring and activity pages, movie reviews, articles and recipes.
USA.gov — Grandparents Raising Grandchildren — links to grandparent programs by state regarding financial, legal and general support.
Carolyn Henderson is a freelance author and writer of the blog Middle Aged Plague (www.MiddleAgedPlague.AreaVoices.com). She is also the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art (www.SteveHendersonFineArt.com).