Problems Faced by Single Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren

Most people want to be a good parent, but the truth is, wanting to be a good parent and being capable of being a good parent are two different things. Parenting is even more difficult in the single-family household. It is hard enough to be a single parent, but when one is a single grandparent raising grandchildren, there are several problems that the grandparent may face.

Custody of the Children

If the biological parents are both deceased, it is usually assumed that the grandparents will raise the children. If children are taken from the parents by the courts, most juvenile court systems and child protection agencies try to place the grandchildren with grandparents. This not only is a cost-saving measure, but allows the children to be raised with family members they presumably already have a bond with. But which grandparents? If both the maternal and paternal grandparents wish the grandchildren to live in their home, and one grandparent is a single grandparent, problems may arise. The single grandparent, whether single by divorce, death of a spouse, or other reason, may have to jump through a couple extra hoops to prove themselves the most suitable placement.

Financial Issues

Raising grandchildren in a single-family household is difficult for any grandparent. There are several resources in most communities that the single grandparent can seek assistance from to ease the financial burden. In most counties, when a grandparent is raising a grandchild, the grandparent is not given the money from the state that a foster parent would receive. Some grandparents are not aware of this until they have the grandchildren in their home, which complicates financial matters further. A grandparent can apply for public assistance and food stamps for their grandchildren, however. Many communities have agencies targeted towards grandparents raising grandchildren. Many of the grandparents that utilize these resources are single grandparents. Such agencies offer clothing, school supplies, furnishings and other household goods, as well as fun events such as picnics, parties and other outings to ease the burden of single-grand-parenting. Support groups, case management services and community referrals are also offered.

Keeping Up

The single grandparent may have quite a challenge keeping up with the active grandchild. The single grandparent can’t ask a spouse to help with daily activities of raising the grandchild. The single grandparent is the only one in the home to meet all the needs of the grandchild and this can be quite tiring to the most active single grandparents.


As grandchildren get older, grandchildren may act out, just as tweens and teens do in many homes when raised by natural parents. Grandparents must provide consistent, fair, yet firm guidance to grandchildren beginning with the first day the grandchildren are living in the single grandparent home. Talking with the grandchildren regularly can ease the burden on everyone involved. Let the grandchildren know that they are loved, valued, that they will have your support in their every endeavor, and that even though they are being raised in a single-grandparent household, that you are all still a “family.” If assistance is needed, the single grandparent can refer to on-line resources for single grand-parenting, read books on the subject, or consult with a counselor or pastor.

Well-Meaning Others

Family members, friends, neighbors and complete strangers may offer well-meaning advice, ranging from the single grandparent should never take on the burden of raising grandchildren alone, that the single grandparent is too old; the single grandparent will not be able to “handle” the grandchildren, to the single grandparent having to give up their own life to raise children all over again. Ignore them. However well meaning these people may be, they cannot dictate whether or not the single grandparent could or should raise their grandchildren. One must carefully evaluate the problems faced by single grandparents raising their grandchildren and decide for themselves if single grand-parenting is an option and the proper thing to do.