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Grandparent or Parent?

PJ Martin Office/News Reporter Metcalfe Division – When I was growing up it was fairly common for grandparents to babysit their grandchildren. I have many cherished memories of being at my grandparent’s home. It was a treat to spend the night with them.

I suppose most folks would call those the ‘good old days.’ It used to be that most parents raised their children with a little help from the extended family. Each family member looked out for each other’s children. After all, most of us grew up playing with our cousins. They were our first friends.

I have watched a disturbing trend become more prominent over the last few years, not just locally, but all over America; Grandparents are starting over as parents raising their grandchildren. It seems I have met more and more people who have taken on the task.

I read a little statement on Facebook the other day by an unknown author that made a great point: Raise your children and spoil your grandchildren. Spoil your children and raise your grandchildren.

Although that statement may not apply to every case it does have a certain truth to it. There are many family situations that demand that a grandparent step up and assist with care for their grandchildren such as the parents losing their jobs, a single parent struggling financially, or the death of one or both parents, but what I am talking about is different.

According to the US Census Bureau, in Kentucky in 2016 there were 56,001 homes where grandchildren under the age of 18 were living without a parent present. That same census lists approximately 125 of those in Metcalfe County.

There are many reasons for this. Sometimes one or both parents are addicted to drugs (or alcohol) to the point they no longer function and the children are paying the price; one or both parents are in jail for drug abuse or distribution; or mothers and fathers simply abandon their kids, refusing to be responsible in an era where responsibility is regarded as a burden and not a privilege.

Many times the grandparents are left to take care of the children being left behind. After all, someone has to take responsibility and who wants their grandchildren going into foster care? I certainly wouldn’t.

What has happened to so many of our young people? I was taught that once you have a child it isn’t about you any longer. It is about that child’s well-being. Some of these so called parents need to grow up and take charge of their responsibility.

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