MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Virginia Clark has discovered that being a parent is a little different the second time around.
"Grandma is old-fashioned and doesn't know about boys," said the 75-year-old Clark, who began taking care of her granddaughter 11 years ago after the death of her daughter.
A study released Sunday is calling on government and private institutions to do more to help people like Clark, who is part of a large statewide trend: At last count, 47,679 children in Minnesota were being raised by grandparents, according to the 2000 census. That's double the number in 1990.
The phenomenon makes demands on aging adults that the social services system, schools and communities are sometimes hard-pressed to answer or are never even asked to address, the study said.
The study urged institutions to do more to provide financial aid and counseling to grandparents caring for children. It also called for the development of programs to aid grandparents in maintaining their economic and physical health in the face of stressful family tasks.
"Can you imagine an 82-year-old trying to raise a child of high school age or younger?" said Priscilla Gibson, assistant professor of social work at the University of Minnesota. Gibson co-authored the study.
Despite problems, many grandparents reported that the quality of their grandchildren's lives had improved over what they had experienced at home with their own parents, Gibson said.
A survey of nearly 100 families, sponsored by the Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association, offered insights into the lives of grandparents caring for their grandchildren. The interviews were not a representative sample depicting the problems facing all grandparents in similar situations.
The grandparents interviewed were mostly white.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.