Grandparents are often the folks who hold families together during the tough times. They may be the peacemakers and caretakers, seeing that everyone gets along and keeps in touch with one another, even those with the busiest lives.
There is no doubt that today’s grandparents are a new breed. Many are strong and independent, and every bit as “modern” and savvy as their grandchildren.
Some are traditional, others decidedly not. But different as they may be, most grandparents do share one common trait—an unabashed and limitless love for their grandchildren.
Have you ever wondered how you compare to other grandparents? Here are some random “grandparent facts,” little tidbits of information about grandparents and grandparenting in the twenty-first century.
- There are over 14 million grandparents living in the UK.
- Over 80% of grandparents provide at least some hands-on care for their grandchildren and over 60% of working parents rely on their own parents to help them with childcare on a regular basis.
- One in every one hundred children lives with a grandparent.
- The financial burden of raising grandchildren is a real concern for many of today’s grandparents, who may find themselves wholly responsible for the day-to-day care of their grandchildren. Increases in parental inability or unwillingness to provide safe and stable home environments have left many grandparents to raise a second generation of children.
- It is estimated that over a million grandparents are being denied access to their grandchildren, usually because of unresolved conflicts between the children’s parents and grandparents. Except in rare cases, parents have the legal right to decide when and if others, including grandparents, can have contact with their children.
- The contributions that grandparents make in the aid of their children’s children is estimated to save the economy £4 billion annually.
- According to the Grandparents’ Association, the youngest grandparent that they are aware of is only 28 and the youngest great-grandparent 54.
- One fifth of grandparents under the age of sixty are also step-grandparents, but many if not most enjoy warm and loving relationships with both their natural and step grandchildren.
Grandchildren are blessings, that much is certain, and some grandparents have been blessed many times over. While there is no official Guinness recording for the living grandparents with the most grandchildren, authorities at Guinness World Records say that Hans and Josie Schaffer of Bedford may indeed have the most in the world.
Their eleven children have given them 56 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren, for a total of 99! The couple was quoted as saying that they spend most of the year saving for holiday gifts!
Parents often go to their own parents when they need help and advice, but do grandparents always know best?
A recent study by the Institute of Education, a University of London concludes that children who are cared for by their grandparents rather than being enrolled in nurseries are more likely to display problematic behaviours, have increased difficulty getting on with other children, and may even be less “school ready” than their peers.
The Institute tracked 4,800 children of working mothers before announcing their results, which have been the subject of much debate.
While formally schooled youngsters may be a bit ahead of their grandparent-tended peer group in recognising letters, numbers, colours, sizes, and shapes, many experts make the reasonable argument that most children will quickly meet standards of academic achievement once they are in primary school, but there are few substitutes for the sense of happiness and security that can come from being nurtured by loving family members during the first three years of life.
That’s good news for parents, grandparents, and children everywhere.
While most grandparents make themselves available to their grandchildren, some go far beyond the norm.
One such grandmother is Patsy Drysdale from Stranraer, who was honoured as the winner in the 2008 Age Concern Grandparent of the Year Awards.
She was nominated by her 13-year-old granddaughter, Gina, who was grateful to her gran for taking her and her two siblings in after their mother’s death, saving them from going into care.
Mrs Drysdale didn’t hesitate about providing a home for her grandchildren, even though she was already caring for her disabled husband.
One last thing… the search is currently underway for 2009’s Grandparent of the Year winner. Might it be you?