AARP estimates that 1 million American children are being raised by grandparents. For these women and men, grandparenting constitutes more than occasional playtime in the park or attendance at a school play; rather, it becomes a full-time job, with the grandparent acting as the primary caretaker.
Families led by grandparents, or “grandfamilies,” have unique challenges to overcome. While the children often experience emotional difficulty in adjusting to the new family dynamic, the grandparent faces a more demanding, fast-paced life and often has to keep up with the demands of providing for young children.
Trading in the relaxing Florida beach vacation to handle high school science projects, tutoring and driving education brings a whirlwind of responsibilities to grandparents who planned to take it easy and enjoy their retirement years.
Rush Generations member Alberta Powell understands all too well the challenges — and rewards — of parenting her grandchildren; at age 64, she is raising her two teenage granddaughters. While she didn’t foresee her life taking this path, she has embraced this new role and acknowledges that it has tested her physically, mentally and emotionally.
“I take this day by day and always tell the girls that I am learning along with them,” Alberta says. “My greatest challenge: setting boundaries for the girls and being a firm disciplinarian.”
She credits Rush Generations programs for helping to keep her strength and energy levels up. You will regularly find Alberta at Rush taking Zumba and Tai Chi. “My life is busier than I could have imagined at this age,” she says. “I know I have to take time out for myself, and I do that by participating in things that rejuvenate me.”