The Experience of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Phenomenological Study
By 1997, the number of children living in the home of a grandparent had risen to 3.9 million or 5.5 percent. The 2000 Census reports an estimated 5.9 million children live in a household maintained by a grandparent (US Census Bureau, 2000). While there are many benefits to having grandparents raise grandchildren, there are also considerable challenges, impacting the family structure, dynamics, and roles. Further, these children typically matriculate from backgrounds where they were removed from their parents out of their control. They may feel alone, act out, or become withdrawn, resulting in being at-risk for a host of other issues. It is surprising, then, that this issue, embedded with systemic dynamics, is underrepresented in the MFT literature base. The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the experiences of grandparents as they face challenges raising their grandchildren. This study was conducted through qualitative interviewing, where participants will respond to both open-ended questions regarding the challenges of raising their grandchildren. Themes and patterns were identified through an open-coding process. The five themes discussed include: characteristics of everyday life, parenting experiences, lack of resources, managing negative emotions, and social changes. Implications for clinical practice and further research are discussed.
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