It used to be fairly uncommon for children to live with their grandparents. As life expectancy continues to climb, though, this has become more and more common. Some have even gone so far as to call this the “age of grandparents.”

As just one example, you’ll see that the number of children being raised by their grandparents had doubled between 1970 and 2018. It’s not just slightly more common. It’s literally happening about twice as often as it did for previous generations. 

The reasons vary. In some cases, the opioid epidemic has contributed, as parents may struggle with addiction or even pass away. In other cases, parents get arrested and cannot raise their children. But it’s not always about illegal activity. In some situations, couples just get together, have a child, and then break up. On their own, neither is able to care for the child, so the grandparents step in. 

You also have to consider retirement. Many parents in these tough situations are working and trying to make ends meet. The child’s grandparents may be retired and have a bit more time — and a bit more stability. They decide to help raise the child because they know it is best for the child and they want to help out their own children in a time of need. 

What this means is that grandparents have to be aware of their own rights. What can they do if the child ends up in the hospital? Where does the child get to live? Who gets to make important decisions? These are all questions that they need to ask moving forward.