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Grandparents raising children benefit from support network

Most Pennsylvania residents have heard the old proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." And most parents are quick to admit that they rely on a network of friends, family, teachers and other members of their community to ensure their children grow up happy, well-adjusted, educated and safe. But what if that network is missing? To take the question a step further, what if the parents aren't in the picture?

Unfortunately, in some cases parents aren't equipped to raise their children, and grandparents may need to step in. But this scenario comes with a wide array of challenges. Grandparents may lack the energy, financial resources and human support network that traditional parents have. They may also need to battle their own children for custody if there's a dispute over the parents' ability to take care of a child.

One woman living in Northeastern Pennsylvania knows firsthand how tough it is to raise a grandchild. After her son developed a drug problem and lost his home, she stepped in to take care of his young daughter. Now 9 years old, the girl has a developmental disability along with physical ailments that require extra care and dependence on her grandmother. As much as she loves her granddaughter, the woman worries about the girl's future. 

What makes raising the girl easier for her and her husband is a local coalition created especially to help grandparents and other family members raising children. Without the advocacy and support of the NEPA Intergenerational Coalition, the 63-year-old says she and her husband would feel more alone in their struggle.

Having other people to reach out to for moral support and advice can be invaluable to grandparents living in any region. Whether that help comes from other grandparents, social workers or family law attorneys, it's important for grandparents raising their children's children to know that support is available for those in unconventional parenting situations. 

Source: timesleader.com, "Grandparents take on another role," Sheena DeLazio, Sept. 4, 2013

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