As issues such as addiction drive an increase in grandparent-led families, older adults are experiencing an unprecedented role reversal.
Reba Sr is part of a growing cohort. Over 16% of American children who live with a grandparent have no parent present, according to the latest census data, a figure that has ballooned in a single generation. Compared with 1990, when only 5% of children lived in grandparent-run households, older American adults are experiencing an unprecedented role reversal: instead of adult children providing assistance to their ageing parents, an increasing number of seniors are looking after their adult offspring, including stepping in to take over their parental duties.
The ultimate responsibility rests with the 2.9 million American grandparents who live with the kids with no parents around. The parents’ addictions, including to crack cocaine and opioids, are often a major factor.
While 17% of children living with two grandparents (with no parents present) live in poverty, that figure is 48% for children living just with Grandma. It’s hard to make ends meet as a single mother, especially on a pension.