working grandma

Working Grandmothers Juggle Their Roles, Keeping Welfare out of Their Family

By Theresa White | Monday Monday Staff -    2016-10-05

working Grandma

Are you a working grandmother? Juggling a full time career, unpaid childcare, home and family responsiblies are becoming the hallmark of the boomer generation grandmothers. These working grandmothers are filling the gap for many of the social issues young families face. 

“When times get tough, so do grandmothers!” 

Says Gagasisterhood’s Donne Davis

“Reliance on working grandmothers is high in the U.S. for several reasons. The proportion of children born to single mothers has risen steadily. The rate of working mothers with young children has also risen steadily. More women are working later into middle age than ever before. These trends have converged to create a high demand for child care and a generation of grandmothers who continue to have jobs. The U.S. welfare system has not responded to these trends. The result is greater reliance on working grandmothers.”

Is this really a bad thing? Is it the working grandmothers that are calling for more welfare reform? 

While we are quick to point out a hardship, and I’m not discounting the sacrafices it takes, we are slow to ask the harder questions. Such as, should the U.S. welfare system respond?

Many of these grandmothers are very fulfilled taking on their roles as caregivers. Others are stepping in on behalf of their grandchildren due to drug abuse, neglect and other social ills.

They are stepping in and caring for their grandchildren because they don’t want their children to be part of the welfare system.

“… U.S. does not pass federal policies that support families because the government assumes women will continue to shoulder care work roles, performing unpaid care work despite the consequences for their financial, emotional, social and physical well-being.”

This is just not true. We have second and third generation welfare recipients. As Kevin Boyd explains, 

“The percentage of Americans now receiving a federally-funded “means-tested program” now stands at 35.4%. When you add pensions, unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare to the mix, the percentage of Americans relying on government for part or all of their subsistence is 49.5% of the American population.”

Yes, working grandmothers are taking up quite a bit of the slack. The grandmothers that I have spoken with who care for their grandchildren do not want anyone else caring for their grandchildren. 

Recently, I spoke with two grandmothers. One, cut her work to part-time in order to care for her disabled grandson before and after school while his (single) mother works. The other has adopted three of her son’s children, all with special needs. She is a business owner.

Both of these women expressed gratitude for the fact they are able to care for these children, saying they bring joy into their lives.

When we talk about family values, it’s these women who embody the values that make families strong in the face of adversity.



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