Number of grandparents raising children doubled between 2000 and 2010 – Dothan Eagle

Just when they thought they were out, Laurie and Paul Williams got pulled back into parenting.

About three years ago, the Williams were nearing the end of their parenting years. Their youngest son was close to graduating high school and starting adulthood. Then their eldest son and his girlfriend had a baby and, unprepared for the demands of parenting, needed help with the child. Now Laurie and Paul are raising their grandson , Brody.

“He had us wrapped from day one,” Laurie said.

A growing number of American children are being raised by their grandparents. According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, about 4.9 million children, one in fourteen, are being raised by grandparents. In 2000, just 2.4 million children were being raised by grandparents.

There are a variety of reasons why more grandparents are raising grandchildren, including lower marriage rates among men and women of childbearing age, difficulty in young couples becoming financially established in the post Great Recession economy, deaths of parents, incarceration of parents, etc.

Laurie Williams said she hopes that Brody’s parents eventually become settled enough to take a greater role in parenting their child. Right now, both are able to visit the child whenever they wish.

Laurie Williams said maintaining a good relationship with the parents of children who grandparents are raising is important. Paul said it can be a challenge at times when grandparents and parents have differing ideas about how things should be done.

“We don’t want to alienate our children from us, because we love our kids,” Laurie said.

Raising a young child in your mid-40s is different than doing it in your 20s and 30s, easier in some ways, harder in others. Laurie Williams said experience has made some of the aspects of child-rearing easier, but physically the job is tougher. Even though they’re young grandparents, Paul sometimes wonders if he and his wife will live long enough to see young Brody to adulthood.

Paul enjoys having Brody around, however, and is happy to be helping to give him a solid, stable start at life.

“I think we’ve mellowed out, the older we’ve gotten,” he said.

Raising Brody has led to some changes in the Williams’ lifestyle. Paul, a trucker, recently gave up that career for one that allows him to stay closer to home to help with Brody.

Laurie said having a strong network of family support has made the task of raising Brody, an energetic two-year-old, easier. The Williams are surrounded by extended family, all of whom seem to find joy in helping with Brody.

“They all love him,” Laurie said.