Not every woman who’s entering her forties or beyond wants another baby. Although celebrities seem to be able to birth and raise children starting at the “ripe” age of 42 or older, most average women declare themselves done at that point. In fact, many women around age forty and up can even expect to be grandparents, depending on how old they were when their own children were born. And with the crazy teen pregnancy rates of modern times, some moms can even become grandparents before they hit the big 4-0.
Today’s grandparents aren’t as old as you’d expect, and many of them have just as much energy as their kids do. The proof is in the fact that tons of young grandparents are raising their grandchildren, whether out of a sense of obligation or a desire to parent all over again. Unfortunately, many take over parenting duties because their children become dependent on substances or are otherwise unfit to parent. Sometimes the situation is temporary, while other times they’re re-upping their parenting position for another eighteen years.
Whether they saw a newborn grandchild as another shot at parenting or a burden to be dealt with, these grandparents stepped up to the plate and did what it took to see the offspring of their offspring off into the world.
15 A Preemie Would Have Ended Up In Foster Care
Karen was just entering the most difficult time in parenting when she was forced to start all over again. Her youngest child was fifteen, and Karen had already seen seven others through to adulthood. But one daughter contacted her mom from states away, desperate for help. This daughter was already a mother of two toddlers- a two-year-old and four-year-old- and she had just given birth to a third.
But this baby was premature, and Karen’s daughter was ill-prepared to become a mother again.
Unfortunately, Karen’s story is overwhelmingly common. But she wasn’t going to let her grandkids slip into the foster system like so many others end up. Six months after her daughter reached out, Karen gained temporary custody of her three young grandkids. After fifteen years, she was up in the middle of the night feeding an infant and comforting two toddlers that missed their mom. The littlest wore a heart monitor, which Karen told the Huffington Post scared her “half to death” in the middle of the night when she thought the baby was in distress.
Karen lamented the fact that there was little support for grandparents in her situation when she started her second parenting journey. She hadn’t even gone through menopause yet, she explained, but gone were the days when her mom friends were available for trading babysitting duties and getting together for playdates. After a long seven years, her daughter got her act together, Karen said, and she said goodbye to another set of children she’d raised.
14 Not Just A Grandkid, But A Troubled One
Remarried after raising her adult children, Debra knew she and her new husband wouldn’t have more children. He didn’t want any, and the pair planned on saving up for retirement, so they could travel the world. But when her daughter’s health problems made parenting impossible, Debra and her husband had a heart-to-heart. Both were still working, and between managing their careers and their grandkids’ lives, Debra knew it would be difficult.
But in the end, the couple accepted custody of the young boy and girl, who arrived with challenges of their own. Debra’s grandson received a diagnosis of attachment disorder along with ADHD, and he was soon suspended from school. Unfortunately, the same thing happened with his sister. After leaving early all the time and missing hours of work, Debra eventually resigned from her job. But things weren’t all bad, she wrote for the Telegraph. Because she and her husband agreed to have social services involved in their lives, they received a small amount of cash aid for the children. They also received support from social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists to get the kids and their grandparents the help they needed.
Although it wasn’t easy, Debra and her husband took on the challenge of raising Debra’s young grandchildren and made it work for their family. And maybe one day they’ll still have the opportunity to travel the world.
13 Not Once, But Three Times
Deborah was in her early forties when she received the phone call that would change her life. Her infant granddaughter, only nine months old, had been physically harmed. The baby had a fractured skull and bruised ribs, Deborah told the Ledger-Enquirer, and that cemented her decision to fight for custody.
Shockingly, it was her daughter who inflicted the harm on her innocent granddaughter. As she came to terms with what her daughter had done, Deborah knew she couldn’t let the baby go into the foster care system. Although she was living on her own, she agreed to take on the little girl, and later, her two younger siblings. Meanwhile, her daughter faced felony charges.
Money was tight, Deborah admitted, and as a single woman working as a hairstylist, she wasn’t able to keep the home she raised her own children in. But she knew her grandkids deserved at least a safe home and a good education. She enrolled her grandson in a private Christian school where he would have positive influences, and put the two girls in public school together. The family rented a home and managed to get by with public assistance, but it’s not where Deborah foresaw her family heading so many years ago.
12 Not Stable Enough For Her Baby
When she was seventeen, Melissa had struggles of her own in life. She ran away from home and got married, became dependent on alcohol, and started using crack, cocaine, and other substances, she told the BC Democrat. When her three children were young, Melissa dragged them from party to party along with her, kept them out of school so as not to inconvenience her habits, and when she sobered up, she felt guilty and kept them with her more. But by the time she became a grandmother, Melissa had been clean for years. Unfortunately, her daughter followed mom’s pattern in life and hasn’t quite righted herself.
While Melissa’s older two granddaughters have been with their grandma and grandpa since they were toddlers, the newest member of the family came nearly ten years later. Unfortunately, Melissa’s daughter was still heavy into substances while she was pregnant and after the baby was born. The infant was born dependent, and withdrawal and other health concerns kept him sequestered for weeks.
Melissa bonded with the baby, but at less than a year old, he still has a long way to go forming bonds with his mom.
Still, the state’s goal is to reunite mom and baby, however long that takes. Melissa says she’ll support her daughter’s efforts to get clean, but the law is on her side when it comes to her preteen granddaughters’ custody arrangement. Their mother won’t be able to regain custody of them, since too much time has passed, but Melissa holds out hope for both her daughter and her grandchildren’s futures.
11 Mom Of Five Begins Again
When her four-year-old grandson asked if he could be “born from her,” it tugged at Anita’s heartstrings. He was actually her daughter Heather’s child, but little Andrew had lived with his grandmother since he was two months old. And by the time Andrew was seven, Anita also had custody of his younger sister, she wrote for Parents.
She wasn’t yet 50 when she gained custody of the oldest child, but Anita had already raised five kids of her own, on her own. She was divorced when the children were young, working two jobs to see them through to adulthood. Just as she was looking forward to a break, Anita’s then-teenaged daughter announced she was pregnant. Heather was nineteen and still in high school but decided to keep her child- against her mother’s caution that having a child would change her life. The father wasn’t around, and two months later, Heather showed up with her infant, asking mom for help.
A few weeks later, Heather moved out of state. She later returned, but she never took her son with her. Fortunately, Anita was able to work nights so she could be home with the children in the evenings, while her live-in boyfriend Jim took the daytime responsibilities. While life is difficult- Anita explained having to arrange visitation with her younger grandchild’s father (not the same dad as the older child)- it’s not impossible, and knowing that she’s keeping a stable home for the kids is a priority.
10 Not-So-Empty Nesters
With an adult child out on her own, Jim and Denni were beginning a new chapter of their lives. They were empty nesters and just beginning to embrace it when they received terrible news. Their 23-year-old daughter had left town- without her two children. WPSD reported on Jim and Denni’s situation with interest, because it’s becoming an all-too-common experience of grandparents all over the country.
While Jim and Denni immediately agreed to take on parenting two young kids, they knew it could end up being a long-term gig. Their daughter abandoned her children for substances, leaving Nova and Wyatt without a second thought. Denni explained that it had been 21 months since her daughter left, and that the two young kids had begun to call her “mom” and their grandfather “dad.”
Denni turned to Facebook groups about grandparents parenting to help her cope with the transition, but she told the news station that she wouldn’t trade her and Jim’s lives for anything. She’s grateful the couple was able to provide for their grandchildren when many families couldn’t. The couple calls it “re-parenting,” a phrase that might appeal to grandparents who feel they missed the mark with their own children. And although it’s hard for Jim and Denni to restructure their lives around their new kids, they literally have a second chance at parenthood.
9 Grandma Has To Fight In Court
Rachel was twenty years old and married when she gave birth to her daughter, Alexis. But she knew she was in a bad place. Her marriage was troubled, she told her mom, and she asked her parents to raise her daughter. Lynne and Alan had raised three daughters including Rachel, and they were more than willing to take on a fourth.
While they still had a teen daughter living at home, Lynne wrote for Grandparents that she was happy to begin parenting again with an infant.
Grandma and Grandpa received baby Alexis when she was two weeks old, and life proceeded wonderfully until right around the baby’s first birthday. The father was somewhat involved in Alexis’ life, with regularly scheduled visitations that he often missed. Despite his relative absence, when Frank received word that Lynne and Alan were seeking permanent legal and physical custody of his daughter, he fought tooth and nail.
Between every court date, additional ones sprung up as Frank filed a variety of paperwork that would hang up the process. He attempted to increase, reduce, and otherwise change visitation agreements. Still, he didn’t show up for some court dates, and in the end, the decision of Alexis’ custody came down to one judge. The judge asked Lynne and Alan to describe their granddaughter’s life with them. At the end of the court session, after two long years of legal battles, Alexis’ “Neema” and “Pa” were granted full custody of their girl.
8 Learning And Re-Learning
There was a steep learning curve when Marsha took over custody of her then two-year-old grandson. The experienced mom was in her early forties, but she was well beyond the years of car seats and diapering. However, that didn’t stop her and her husband, Brian, from taking on parenting for the second time. They learned the ropes when it came to car seat technology, daycare routines, and more.
Unfortunately, their grandson’s mother, their daughter, was dependent on substances and was jailed when her son was a toddler. The little one became a ward of the state, and it took two years of paperwork and court visits to get permanent custody of the tot. Marsha and Brian adopted their grandson once their daughter’s rights were severed. Now grandpa-turned dad tells KJZZ, “He’s my son and I’m going to do the best I can to make sure he grows up to be a good man.”
Grandma-turned-mom noted that it’s harder switching from grandparent to parenting role, since you can’t fall into the routine of being the grandparent that spoils the kids for a short time then sends them home. But she and her husband have never wavered. From the moment they found out their grandson was in need, they stepped up and took over. Now, he’s a well-adjusted teen who calls his grandparents’ house his home.
7 Grandparenting Times Nine
Victoria and her husband have raised nine of their grandchildren, starting with the first back in the 90’s. While Victoria explained that her grandkids suffered some bullying because of their parents’ absence- other kids would tease them when grandma was always at PTA meetings- she maintains that letting kids know they’re not alone is important. The family joined events that bring grandparenting families together so that the kids can relate to one another, Victoria told KJZZ.
Teens especially enjoy these community events, because there are no questions about why the kids are there with their grandparents or where their parents are. And although grandparents can often provide the structure that kids need when their parents are in jail or dealing with substance use or dependence, there are some things they need help with. Organizations don’t necessarily provide financial assistance, but donations are often available for grandparents in the form of beds, clothing, and more so that they can continue to take care of their grandchildren with less stress.
The agency that Victoria and her family connected with- Duet- explained that substance dependence are the top two reasons why we’re seeing parents leave their children with their own parents. From babies born dependent on substances to parents who leave their children and forget to come back, there are many stories like Victoria and her family’s.
6 Young Mom Had To Fight For The Baby
While many grandparents raise their grandkids on their own, many more turn to online resources for support and camaraderie. For example, commenter “K” wrote on Grandparenting Blog that she was only 35 when her grandson, Hank, was born. At the time, K’s daughter was sixteen, the father was seventeen, and neither was equipped to be a parent. Still, K maintained, neither of them used substances or drank alcohol. They just weren’t ready to be parents. But K and her husband, her daughter’s stepfather, had been trying for a baby when their grandchild came along.
At the time of K’s comment, Hank was about three years old, and his biological parents had moved out of the family home a year and a half prior. Much the way one would leave a dog behind, the young couple “opted not to take Hank with them.” But the couple stayed together, got their own place, and had Hank over for a couple of overnight visits per week. But K worried, because
although her daughter encouraged Hank to call his grandmother “mom,” the parents were reluctant to give full legal rights to grandma and her husband.
Although they often canceled visits with Hank, claiming they couldn’t “handle” him, his mother and father didn’t want to give up their rights to their son. K thought it was because of the pressure of the boyfriend’s family, who the couple were lying to, claiming that they had Hank full-time and were raising him themselves. Who knows what the end result of the struggle was- K explained that her daughter had recently inherited a couple million dollars- and continued to drag her feet on adoption paperwork.
5 Emergency Situation Calls For Backup
It was shocking news to grandparents Bob and Kathy when they received the call telling them their grandson was in CPS custody. At the time, Riley was only one year old, and his home situation and what the Adoption Institute reported as a “series of unfortunate events,” warranted his removal. Riley’s father wasn’t around, but his mother was deemed unfit to care for him.
Once they got Riley out of the foster home he was in, Bob and Kathy set to work becoming parents the second time around. They were just entering their 50s and had to start from the beginning again when it came to parenting, but the couple wouldn’t change a thing. Bob said that the couple’s grandson is “extremely smart and keeps us both on our toes with his constant and insightful questions.”
The 11-year-old introduces his grandparents by their formal titles, but adds, “she’s my mom” and “he’s my dad,” the couple said.
Since his mother never regained custody, Riley was adopted by his grandparents in 2012. Although the experience was strange, Bob noted, as he was the oldest parent at most school events, he did experience a lot of “déjà vu” while raising Riley which reminded him of raising his son forty years prior.
4 Teen Leaves Baby Behind
When she found out her teen daughter was pregnant, Jo Ann was shocked. The 18-year-old hid her pregnancy for months, preparing for graduation as if nothing was out of the ordinary. But once she revealed the news, Jo Ann’s daughter had to decide on a course of action. Jo Ann told Adoption Institute that originally, her daughter planned to give the baby up for adoption without telling anyone. But later, she decided to keep the baby and work and go to college part-time.
However, after the “newness” wore off, Jo Ann explained, her daughter wasn’t as thrilled about being a parent as she’d thought she would be. A few months later, the daughter joined the navy, leaving her baby behind. Jo Ann became baby Kyle’s legal guardian, and she and her husband later legally adopted the tot. Their daughter didn’t want any part of raising him, Jo Ann explained, and that was fine with them.
The grandparents saw Kyle through his childhood and into college, and Jo Ann notes that “watching him grow and blossom” has been the couple’s “greatest reward” in life. And as for his birth mother? No word on her involvement as her son grows into a responsible and intelligent adult himself.
3 Mom Skips Out On Daughters
Speaking from over three years’ experience raising her own grandchildren, Monica told the Kokomo Tribune that it’s a challenging endeavor. Monica and her husband Bill adopted their son’s two young daughters when he was found unfit to care for them. His inability to parent was driven by opioid and alcohol use, the couple told the news outlet, and the children’s mother was in the same situation.
The Department of Child Services had already been keeping an eye on the couple, but one day, the mother showed up to the girls’ grandparents house.
She dropped the girls off and never came back for them.
In addition to their son’s daughters, Monica explained, the girls’ mother also had three other daughters. Four of the girls tested positive for methadone at birth. One of the girls the grandma has custody of endured a 21-day hospital stay while going through withdrawal at birth.
Fortunately, Monica and Bill were able to quickly gain legal rights of the girls as their parents already had a history with the courts and Child Services. As they entered their 50s, the couple, already parents of four adult children, started over with their young granddaughters, a situation they’re making the best of.
2 Losing A Daughter Gaining Two More
Unfortunately for Bill and Carol, gaining custody of their two granddaughters involved the deaths of both their daughter and her husband. Their youngest daughter died unexpectedly, with her husband following shortly after. Bill told the Deseret News that, “We talked about, as a family, who should raise the girls. I had a very strong feeling, a premonition, that our daughter wanted us to do that.”
Carol was in her early 50s when the girls, now teens, came to live with her and her husband. At the same time, the couple’s oldest daughter also lives at home, due to medical necessity. At times, her daughter has lived in the home too.
The younger of the two granddaughters Carol gained custody of was five when she made the transition to her grandparents’ home. She explained that she felt like a bit of an outcast, but she was happy living with her grandparents and knew of multiple classmates in the same situation.
For her grandparents, rising to the challenge of parenting two more kids presented unforeseen difficulties. For example, there was no internet when the couple raised their three adult children, and the digital age poses its own problems to kids’ safety. But it also throws a wrench in grandparents’ ability to level with their grandkids, Carol added, noting that her “two IT people” are her granddaughters.
1 Grandma Has To Give Up Everything For Her Grandkids
She was moving to the United States from Australia with her then-girlfriend in the adventure of a lifetime, but Deb’s trip would be cut short by her daughter’s pleas for help. Deb had been a single mom, raising her daughter on her own, but once that daughter was grown, she embraced her own life. But her daughter’s “domestic situation deteriorated,” Australia’s News site explained, making it necessary for Deb to come home to help.
In her early 50s, Deb was suddenly mum to three children under the age of six again. She explained that while she gleaned plenty of enjoyment from raising the kids, accomplishing the simple things proved most difficult. For example, she didn’t have money for a car or multiple trips to get groceries, so she had to take a cab ride with the three tots to the shops for food and baby necessities. Chasing the toddlers around while balancing a newborn and piles of groceries wasn’t easy.
Still, Deb said, although she used to have fun doing things spur of the moment and getting a little crazy, she finds that it’s worth settling down a bit to provide her grandkids with the structure they need. And although she’d love to be a “traditional grandparent” one day, Deb said that she thinks of the kids as her children, and when it comes down to it, she’ll be there for them every day regardless.