As Clara Kirkendall, a Chicago grandmother who is raising her four grandchildren says, "Grandparents are no longer a luxury. They're often a necessity."
But even if grandparents are younger, "it's still something they weren't expecting to deal with," says Connie Booth, a kinship care expert at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. Booth works with 500 such grandparents and grandchildren annually.
"It's a role change," Booth says. "They're not the doting grandparent anymore. There's a grieving process for grandparents and grandchildren since both have lost a special relationship. And that grief can be renewed again and again if they deal with the stress of a parent who pops in and out."
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