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This research majorly focuses on the reasons why grandparents have to take up the role of raising up their grandchildren. The issue of concern has been the observation that the number of grandparents who have to take care of their grandchildren is rapidly increasing. The study has hypothesized that the practice was on the increase and that there was increasing awareness on the issue. It was also hypothesized that major cause of this vice was the increase in the HIV/AIDs prevalence cases and the rampant use of drugs among the young couples. The study also hypothesized that grand parenting was increasingly being welcomed in the society.
This study has been necessitated by various findings of the existing literature. A good example of such findings was that by the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau which has shown that 4.5 million children were living in the households headed by grandparents. According to the statistics, this represented an increase of 30 percent between the year 1990 and 2000. This has clearly indicated how serious the issue was.
The key variables that were measured during the study included the number of children and grandparents caught up in the vice and the kind of challenges that they face. My research questions were designed in line with the findings from the literature review that had indicated that the major stakeholders in regard to grand parenting were the children themselves, their grandparents, the different agencies involved and the parents of the children. The questions were designed in such a way that they would allow the research to establish the opinion of the stakeholders regarding the vice and their awareness on the various issues surrounding it. My original feeling was that grandparents were merely taking up this role as a form of responsibility. This changed the proceeding of the research as I had to bring in other interested parties such as the relevant agencies in to the study.
A number of scholars were found to have researched in this field. Howe (2012), for example, had noted that one of the reasons for the increase in primary grandparenthood is the increase of children or parents with cases of disabilities. According to him, grandparents are those who, in most cases, take care of disabled grandchildren, children whose parents have been disabled, as well as those whose parents are suffering from a chronic illness. Newman and Newman (2011) argued that this phenomenon is largely experienced among poor and single parent families. They added that mothers of children with disability fear to undergo such consequences as emotional strain, career disruption and isolation that are related to child’s disability, and therefore, pass the responsibility to the grandparents.
Additionally, Howe (2012) noted that with prevalence of such chronic disease as HIV/AIDs, there is an increase in death rates, especially in the developing countries. The parental deaths force the grandparents to take over the parenting responsibility. Moreover, Howe (2012) argued that the age at first-birth is continuously falling with some instances of girls giving birth at the age of nine years old. He explained that apart from lacking the parenting skills, such girls have to continue with their education meaning that these would be the grandparents who will mostly be left behind taking care of the children.
On the other hand, Hayslip and Hicks-Patrick (2003) observe that with the increasing cases of drug abuse in today’s society, the cases of child’s abuse, child’s abandonment, and child’s neglect, family conflicts and divorce are on the increase. In such situations, the courts have always ordered for the removal of such children from what it legally described as vulnerable conditions. Berkman and Harootyan (2003) also reported a research indicating that the drug addicts are normally at a higher risk of getting fatal diseases like HIV/AIDs, which increase their death rates, and therefore, the number of orphans.
According to Berkman and Harootyan (2003), another reason for this increase is the changing of the traditional roles of mothers. They reasoned that in today’s modern society, mothers are involved in the career development, and thus, have limited time for their children. These scholars further noted that a part from the changing roles of mothers, financial strain has pushed most mothers to look for employment opportunities, in order to boost their husband’s low income.
However, Lamanna and Reidman (2012) noted that in certain cases, grandparents have assumed the role of caregiver because of the love they have for their grandchildren and children. Such grandparents normally believe that children are the future, and taking care of them is part of their role in ensuring a better future. They observed that in certain situations, grandparents may also be the only ones who can take care of their grandchildren, thus, calling for family responsibility. Finally, Lamanna and Reidman (2012) noted that, most states’ and interstate laws have emphasized the need of the vulnerable children living with their grandparents and are not being taken to informal arrangements.
The data will be collected using survey method through the administration of the questionnaire. The sample population was drawn from Georgia State, in particular, around Atlanta Metropolitan areas. There were specific interview guides for children, parents, grandparents, and agencies officers who were chosen proportionately. A total of 10 research assistants were also trained and used in the administration of the questionnaires which took two weeks. Interview as a method was chosen, because it could allow the coverage of all the relevant areas as well as directing the process. It was also seen as a way of reducing any wastage on resources such as time, labor and money, which would have resulted from the collection of irrelevant information in case other methods like experiment were to be used (Westfall, 2009).
During the study, stratified sampling was used to obtain a well representative sample population. This was done by categorizing the study sample to include children who were taken care of by their grandparents; grandparent’s who were taking care of children, parents, and officers from the private and public agencies. After coming up with the categories, systematic sampling was then used in choosing representatives from each of these strata. The study specifically considered 100 children, 80 parents, 80 grandparents, 10 officers who were from both the government and the private agencies. Others were the 10 participants from the child help/welfare institutions.
The study used systematic sampling to help ensure a representative population sample. That is, it considered all the local areas while also reflecting the proportion of these strata in the larger population. For example, sampling fraction for children and grandparents were higher than that of other officers, because they form a higher percentage.
Findings and Interpretation
The study established that the grandparenthood is met with substantial approval. Children, parents, grandparents and agency officials expressed 60, 65, 75 and 50, the respective approval percentages. Otherwise, the percentages of children, parents, grandparents and agencies were 40, 35, 25 and 50, respectively (see appendix 2, table 1). The increase in grand parenting pointed to the fact that the society was increasingly welcoming the practice.
On the other hand, fifty-fifty division in the responses of agency officials points out that, even though grandparenthood is highly welcomed in the society, it may not be without inherent demerits and merits. This means that some grandparents are compelled to assume the role of having to take care of their grandchildren for various reasons. This was clear by the fact that in most cases, it was witnessed that grandparenthood only occurred whenever there was a family crisis associated with parent inability, incapability, absence or unwillingness to undertake the parenting responsibilities.
On the other hand, those who opposed the practices expressed their fear grandparenthood could not give satisfactory care. The major reasons given by most participants were that grandparents are limited by their incomes, which could not allow them to adequately provide their grandchildren with healthcare and insurance, among other essential needs entitled to children. In this regard, it was clear that agency officials were more informed about the disadvantages facing the children living with their grandparents than the rest of the groups; hence, the significant differences in the responses between these groups.
The subject pertaining to the knowledge of the existence of relevant legal or support bodies expressed low percentages for positive responses. Only 40 and 35 percent of children and grandparents who were interviewed were having information concerning relevant legal and support bodies. This finding exhibited negative correlation between grandparenthood approval levels and knowledge about the existence of relevant legal/support bodies. This phenomenon helped in drawing the inference that increasing parenthood was attributable to limited information pertaining to legal and relevant support agencies among children and grandparents. The grandparenthood popularity would be low in case the society was to be sensitized on the information pertaining to relevant legal or support bodies.
In conclusion, the research made it clear that grandparenthood is increasingly becoming popular since it is increasingly being seen as a solution to the unfortunate children in the society. The research also showed that popularity of parenthood is attributable to limited information about relevant legal and agencies. Moreover, some grandparents did not necessarily take up the role of raising the children willingly, but were rather compelled to assume such roles due to family crisis associated with parents’ inability, incapability, absence or unwillingness of respective parents. Therefore, it was clear that the paradigms on grandparenthood should never be overlooked.