Grandparents Raising Kin Support Group Lends a Helping Hand
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS – The United States has recently seen an increase in numbers of grandparents raising grandchildren. In a PBS article released in the early months of this year, it reported, “Nationwide, 2.7 million grandparent’s are raising grandchildren, and about one-fifth of those have incomes that fall below the poverty line.” According to a “Generations United” census, 1 in 10 grandparents live with their grandchildren. Interested in these statistics, LIVE! looked into what options San Angelo has for grandparents raising grandchildren.
Out of the 2.7 million grandparents raising grandchildren, 58 percent of them are still in the work force, 40 percent have provided care for over five years, and 37 percent of them are over the age of 60. Though there are many challenges faced by the grandparents, such as financial and health concerns, many studies show that finding a support group is just as important to the grandparents as staying physically and financially healthy. AARP underscores that “caregivers need to develop a support system to help them with the many tasks at hand,” and added “one way to make the task easier is to connect with other grandparents in the same situation.”
In San Angelo, there is currently one support group for grandparents raising grandchildren and other family members: Grandparents Raising Kin. This support group has been around for several years and has been hosted by several different local churches. Now, the support group has found its home in the First Christian Church’s Library. The group is lead by Laura Duran, a LPC-Intern at West Texas Counseling and Guidance. Duran has been with the group since it moved to the First Christian Church several years ago.
Duran said the support group is “an opportunity for [the grandparents] to talk and to have a social time with other grandparents.” She described the group as a “very laid back type of group,” maintaining that this is not a therapy-like group, but “their support group where they run the group and talk about what they want to talk about.”
Most of the grandparents attending are between the ages of 50 and 70. Duran said she is amazed at their resilience as “most individuals at that age are retiring and taking time for themselves,” but they “still have to take on the responsibility of raising [their] grandchildren.”
There are many different reasons as to why grandparents raise their grandchildren. PBS indicates that the number of grandparents raising kin has grown 7 percent since 2009, and is “expected to keep increasing due to the recent opiate epidemic.” Also, “military deployment, and growth in the number of women incarcerated are other factors forcing grandparents to step into the parental roles."
One grandparent attending the weekly support meeting lost her daughter, and not knowing who the father of her grandchild was, has been raising the girl for the past several years. She says it has been tough sometimes as “you always hear the line, ‘You’re not my mom,’ and its like, 'I’ll never be your mom; I’m your grandmother, but I have to treat you like a mom.'” This grandmother realizes “it’s tough on the kids sometimes,” but she must continue in the best intentions of the child.
Another grandmother chimed in, “It is very challenging because [we have gone] from being a grandmother to a mother and grandmother.” She added, “It hurts me seeing everything that [other grandparents] have to deal with as a grandmother because [we’ve] already raised our children, but [others] have to be responsible for them. It does worry you because you have to go to juvenile; you have to go to court; and you have to make such tough decisions at times that you never dreamed in your lifetime you would have to make.”
Despite having to struggle with different circumstances, all these grandparents have one thing in common – their love for their grandchildren. Through the struggles, it is important to take time for family, and most of the grandparents said they take their grandchildren on vacations and have a lot of fun; they also take time to appreciate the small things. One grandparent noted, “[My grandchildren] tell me all the time ‘I love you,’ and when I’m alone I kind of miss it.”
The Grandparents Raising Kin support group is open to any grandparent in San Angelo and the Concho Valley. They meet every Friday from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. every week, unless there is a holiday, in the library of the First Christian Church, 29 N. Oakes St. Light refreshments are usually provided, and the meeting is set up as a come-and-go event.
The grandparents in attendance said, “We have become new friends.” They welcome all new members.
For more information about the Grandparents Raising Kin Support Group, please contact Laura Duran at 325-944-2561, or at [email protected].