Grandparents find joy amid challenges in childcare

Grandparents find joy amid challenges in childcare

Parents in need of childcare for their preschool-age kids are getting it—very willingly–from their own parents, according to a new national study.

Twenty-five percent of children under the age of 5 are cared for by grandparents while their parents work or go to school, roughly the same number enrolled in formal childcare programs. And 90 percent of grandparents in those roles “love” doing it.

Those were some of the findings reported in September following the study by Zero to Three, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that is an advocate for early childhood development and helping adults who influence the lives of infants and toddlers.

Grandparents who were surveyed in the study generally wanted to help their adult children and develop closer relationships with their grandchildren while responding to a sense of family duty. Grandparents also reported feeling stressed over managing children’s behavior and a co-parenting relationship with their adult children.

“Grandparents are filling a childcare gap in a unique way that brings them closer to their grandchildren, as well as their adult children,” stated Rebecca Parlakian, senior director of programs for Zero to Three. “While there might be challenges, nearly every grandparent we talked to told us how much they love playing such an important part in their grandchildren’s lives. While the research on parenting changes over time, one thing that has stayed true is that we have much to learn from those who came before us, and they have so much to offer our children today.”

Other findings about grandparents in childcare roles:

  • 81 percent are confident in their ability to care for their grandchildren and are happy with the quality of care they provide.
  • About 70 percent have more patience and a clearer sense of what’s important from when they raised their own children.
  • 74 percent think it’s scarier raising children today because of danger and violence in the world.