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Why do some kids live with their Grandparents?

October 21st, 2022
Why do some kids live with their Grandparents?
As many as 250,000 children in the UK live with their grandparents. In the USA the figure is about 2% of all children and this type of family group is known as ‘grandfamilies’. There are many reasons why some children do live with their grandparents and although it can bring emotional, practical and financial problems, for many it nurtures a special bond with their grandparents as it gives the children stability, a sense of history and heritage and really belonging.

Numerous studies have shown that raising their grandchildren can be very beneficial for grandparents. It can give grandparents a great interest and keep them alert and learning, it can help prevent depression and help them to get out and about and interact socially.

On the flip side of the coin, having grandparents caring for their grandchildren for much – if not all of the time - is positive too.
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Grandparents love their grandchildren and will give them plenty of time and attention.

Financial security

Grandparents can offer excellent childcare without the high costs involved.


Because grandparents have already had children; they are confident and competent at caring for children when they are sick. They also believe in good nutrition and will spend time preparing meals ‘from scratch’ and will encourage their grandchildren to spend plenty of time in the fresh air.


Grandparents can teach their grandchildren valuable lessons on life as they have experienced so many things – good and bad – during their lives. They can also teach their grandchildren how to make decisions wisely and how to save their pocket money. They can teach children how to have fun playing with simple things like sticks and a cardboard box. They will also teach their grandchildren how to enjoy the simple things in life.
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It is an interesting fact that many children are particularly close to their maternal grandmother. There are a number of reasons for this including the fact that she can probably interpret their needs better than anyone else and because she gave birth to the child’s mother, she is able to connect with them far more easily.

Here we explain some of the many reasons why children live with their grandparents.

The death of a parent

Following the death of one or both parents, children are often cared for by their grandparents who would far rather they care for the child than for them to be placed in care.

Separation & divorce

When parents separate or divorce, many find that coping for their children on their own is particularly difficult - especially if they are not financially secure or cannot afford childcare while they work. Moving into their parents’ home with their children is often the most sensible solution for all.

When it is a military family

Moving every 2/3 years can be very difficult for military families. Mums have to give up their work and can rarely pursue a career and children get disrupted education. By the time many children are 11 years old, their parents send them to boarding school in the UK to give them some stability and ‘home’ for many becomes their grandparents’ house, while their mum and dad are stationed overseas. For many children, going to boarding school is not ideal either so for an increasing number of service children, living full-time with their grandparents in the UK and attending the local school is the best solution.
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Following a teenage pregnancy

Having a baby while you are a teenager is certainly a life-changing experience and lots of young mums are still keen to go to college/uni or start a career. This can work very well if the grandparents are happy to accommodate their daughter and her child and to help with finances and child care.

Substance abuse, neglect and imprisonment

Unfortunately for the children in such situations, it is necessary for them to be placed with foster parents or to ‘put in care’. Many grandparents find this heartbreaking and to save their grandchildren further stress, open their home and hearts to them to give them a secure environment for as long as necessary.

When there are mental health problems

Although health professionals will always try to keep children with their parents; in some circumstances this is not possible and alternative arrangements must be made for the health, safety and well-being of the children. Often if their son or daughter is struggling with mental health issues, the parents will take on the day-to-day care of their grandchildren.

3 generation households

In some countries such as Greece and many African countries, grandparents are automatically cared for by one of their children when they get old, unable to work or have health/disability problems. The grandparents often move into their child’s home and help with cooking, housework and spend plenty of time with their grandchildren.

There are certainly many plus points for children being raised by their grandparents and these far outweigh the negatives. The main problem for many grandparents is having enough stamina to keep up with their grandchildren! Perhaps if you know some grandparents caring for their grandchildren, you could occasionally offer to care for the children for a couple of hours so that Granny and Grandpa can have a well-earned rest….

Chrissie x

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