Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

The number of U.S. children being raised by their grandparents rose sharply as the recession began, according to an analysis of census data.

Two million, nine hundred thousand children were being raised primarily by their grandparents. This was up 16% from 2000, with a surge from 2007 – 2008. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry believes that many children living with grandparents enter that arrangement with pre-existing problems stemming from abuse and loss of parents.

Here are some suggestions for grandparents raising grandchildren:

(1) Rather than establishing rules which have an enforcement mentality, teach procedures for what you desire. Do NOT assume your grandchildren know what you want.

(2) Communicate in positive ways, such as in what you want—not what you don’t want. The brain thinks in pictures, so what you say after “don’t” is what the brain pictures. Rather than, “Don’t slam the door!” say, “Please close the door quietly.”

(3) Always give choices. If a grandchild does NOT do what is requested, a choice has been made, anyway.  With this in mind, give at least three (3) choices such as, “Do you want to eat with us, or by yourself, or do you have some other preference?”

(4) Understand that you cannot change your grandchildren; they can only change themselves. Using coercion with them promotes adversarial relationships (as does relying on rules), and  coercion promotes stress on all parties involved. Instead, hone the principal of asking reflective questions. A few examples are, “What would an extraordinary person do in this situation?” “If you could not fail, what would you do?’  “Would you be willing to try something different if it would help you?”

Many more suggestions are in the parenting book at