Sunday is National Grandparents Day.

Although this day is not celebrated to the extent of Mother’s or Father’s Day, it’s purpose is “to honor grandparents, give them an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer,” according to an analysis published by the News Times.

Those fortunate enough to have grandparents in their lives know the value of feeling supported at all childhood events, having the opportunity to experience special sleepovers, and having someone objective to turn to when things get overwhelming. Grandparents can be one of the most valuable resources for children and parents.

Today, however, I would like to acknowledge a special type of grandparent that often goes unnoticed but plays an even larger role in the safety and development of their grandchildren. I would like to share some startling statistics from earlier this year to demonstrate the magnitude of the role of grandparents.

According to FatherMatters.org, more than 13 million children across the United States are living in homes with grandparents. This means that 2.5 million grandparents every day are taking on the responsibilities required to raise these children.

Although some of these families have other relatives in the picture who are providing help, there are 1 million kids today that have grandparents as their sole parental influence while growing up. That means roughly 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

The number of children being raised by grandparents has been rising steadily for the past 40 years, doubling the amount of households in 2010 compared to 1970. Two events have contributed to large spikes in this statistic: the recession that occurred from 2007 to 2009 and the epidemic of drug use in the late 1980s.

Some of the more alarming statistics are in regard to the state of many of the children being raised by their grandparents. Twenty-eight percent of the kids who are being raised by their grandparents were victims of abuse, abandonment or neglect by their parents.

These conditions lead to ongoing behavioral issues of which grandparents struggle to manage.

Many who are raising their grandchildren are doing so without any assistance or awareness of resources available to them. Additionally, many of these children have diagnoses of developmental and learning disabilities or experienced childhood trauma.

Sadly, 36% of those who are raising their grandchildren have done so for more than five years. This statistic implies that the children will be with the grandparents into adulthood. When grandparents should be retiring and enjoying a life of more leisure, they are still caring for grandchildren.

A final statistic that I feel provides the best perspective on the value of grandparents is that families that have someone raising a grandchild help save taxpayers over $6 billion each year because they keep them out of the foster care system.

I saw a quote from an unknown source in which I can relate: “I wouldn’t change my grandchildren for the world, but I wish I could change the world for my grandchildren.”

Happy Grandparents Day to all grandparents but a special shoutout to those who are playing dual roles of parents and grandparents.

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