When divorce splits a family, it's more than parents who have to deal with a disruption in how they interact with their children. The same goes for grandparents, who also have to deal with the reality of a post-divorce family. While many grandparents' rights issues come into play in terms of visitation issues, sometimes grandparents -- often through little choice of their own -- end up becoming primary caregivers or even adoptive parents.
One subset of grandparents who have increasingly been taking the reins of their families is grandfathers. Sometimes they are de facto fathers for children when their grandkids' parents struggle with substance abuse or financial trouble; other times, parents have died and the kids have nowhere else to go outside of foster care.
Recent figures show that nearly 6 million kids across the country live in a household headed by a grandparent; similarly, about 40 percent of grandparents who live with grandchildren say they have a role in caring for the kids. While many of these grandparents are women, some of them are single grandfathers. More than 8 percent of single grandfathers have at least one child in the house.
One potential drawback to grandparents raising young kids is the financial aspect. In today's difficult economy, many grandparents have to live on Social Security, a pension or other means of fixed income. That means kids might have to be on their own from a cost perspective if they want to go on to college. But at least that's an opportunity they can consider -- an opportunity other kids might not have.
Source: The Kansas City Star, "More grandpas take on the role of single parent," Eric Adler, June 16, 2012