Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive July 2009 Show 0929 Grandparents


Grandparents raising their grandchildren is a growing trend across the country. We look at parenting help the second time around.

Grandma and granddaughter

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Raising your Grandchildren

Show Dates

Show 0929: Grandparents

Air date: July 19, 2009



Rob:  Well per capita, Oklahoma ranks second in the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren.  And of those, twenty percent are living below the poverty level.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with one such family, and as I found out, it’s not always easier the second-time around.

Rob:  At age 49, Marion Attaway isn’t a typical college student.  Unlike her classmates at Langston University, when the school day ends a whole other life begins, as a single grandparent raising two grandchildren all by herself.

Rob:  Well just home from school 12 year old Anthony wants to go fishing, with big sister Cara, and grandmother not far behind.

Marion:  I started raising them, pretty much at birth.  When you attach yourself to your grandchildren like that.  Maybe, I don't know if it's okay to say, some people say it's not, you have the feeling, they feel like your own, because you start nurturing them.

Rob:  After an afternoon of fun, Marion’s day is far from over, homework for Cara; a snack for Anthony; and dinner to prepare; a busy schedule for any parent, no matter their age.

Marion:  The energy is not inside of me to juggle like I want to.  So a lot of things I do not do, you know.  And a lot of times I have to just take a deep breath and just ask for strength.

Rob:  And while it’s rough at times, Marion says Anthony and Cara are worth every sacrifice.

Marion:  And I feel like, if they are not taken care of properly, something so precious, it's just like losing a diamond in the rough, just losing it in a whole bunch of sand, or in the ocean.  Because I feel like they would be lost, because they are, oh they’re awesome to me.  They are such brilliant little kids, and they've gone through so much.  And so if they can't live in a safe world; if they can't depend on somebody to keep them safe; then where would they go; what would they do?

Cara:  My grandma. You have to get A’s and B’s and B pluses, no B minuses, no C minuses.  And oh God, bring a D in the house, or F; whew, she’d have a heart attack.

Rob:  Marion says she feels at peace with the decision to raise them on her own, even though times aren’t always peaceful.

Marion:  They’re going to the park.  Where is the game going to be held?

Anthony:  Langston.

Marion:  Okay.  And so they’re going up to the park, everybody meets up at the park.  And then when you meet up at the park, where are you going?

Rob:  But at the end of the day, she tries to do what is best for them, and like all parents, not second guess herself.

Marion:  Should I let him go, or should I, you know, hover him?  No, I can’t.  He’s 12 years old.  He needs to go.  He needs to get out there, and experience life and friends, something that he has not done with his mom, or you know since he's been 12 years old.

Rob:  Making parenting just as hard the second time around.  Yet through it all, Marion wouldn’t trade a minute, or the two children she loves like her own.

Rob:  Studies show grandparents raising their grandkids are at risk for higher levels of depression and anxiety as well as the financial strain of raising a second family later in life.