Letters to the Editor

Memorialise grandparents who look after their grandchildren

Tuesday, July 03, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

A research study entitled, "The Generation of Transition; between Work and Retirement", reveals that for thousands of years the family model included not only a father and a mother who were good parents, but also a grandmother who helped them with the task of child raising.

Grandparents work as nurses, guardians and teachers for their grandchildren. This type of support makes it possible for many moms to be integrated back into the labour market. Some families function better with grandparents. In times of economic crisis, this type of supportive cooperation is vital.

One of the most troubling concerns revealed by the US Census is the growing number of children who are being raised by their grandparents; 2.4 million grandparents are responsible for raising 4.4 million grandchildren. The Economist reports that a third of these grandparents, as heads of households, had not completed secondary education and 62 per cent had not gone to a university. About 70 per cent exceed age 50, while 70 per cent of children were 11 years old, on average.

The African-American community is the one that faces the toughest conditions. Under the age of 18, about 70.9 per cent of children of heads of household are white and 13.3 per cent are black (similar percentage of blacks in the population as a whole), while in the case of grandchildren of the household heads, 48.6 per cent are white and 32.3 per cent are black.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explains that the causes of this workload for grandparents are due to an increase in single-parent families, high divorce rates, increase in teenage pregnancies, and parental incapacitation for imprisonment, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence.

Grandparents are exposed to physical and psychological fatigue, and it becomes especially difficult when dealing with children coming from broken homes. Stress and fatigue related to work and responsibility are the main signs of the "slave grandmother" syndrome.

There are programmes designed to help grandparents who must raise their grandchildren. The most requested service is financial aid to hire a temporary assistant during the holidays. Other than these aids, grandparents should be given homage with a grand monument.

Clemente Ferrer

Madrid, Spain




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