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Grandparent-Headed versus Parent-Headed Households: Who is Coping Better? :

August 5, 2020

Occasions occur where grandparents need to step into the role of primary caregiver. Not a lot is known about whether there are differences in the children cared for by grandparents in terms of their history of adversity in childhood, their temperament or behavioral issues or whether grandparents experience more aggravation and have more difficulty coping compared to parent-headed households

Occasions occur where grandparents need to step into the role of primary caregiver. Not a lot is known about whether there are differences in the children cared for by grandparents in terms of their history of adversity in childhood, their temperament or behavioral issues or whether grandparents experience more aggravation and have more difficulty coping compared to parent-headed households. Rapoport et al (10.1542/peds.2020-0115) evaluated the role of grandparent-headed households in a new study being released in our journal this month. The authors used 3 years’ worth of data from the National Survey of Children’s Health to provide a serial cross-sectional look at children ages 3-17 surveyed in 2016 through 2018 and compared grandparent (2407 households) to parent-headed (78,239 households). The authors found that the children in grandparent-headed households experienced more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and were more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than those in parent-headed households. However, when you removed those children with ADHD from the sample for analysis, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of grandparent versus parent caregivers in their abilities to cope, feel emotionally supported by these children and each other, and in their interactions with these children. There is plenty of additional data included in this fascinating look at grandparent-headed households, but the bottom line is reassuring in that grandparents seem for the most part to be coping just as well as parent caregivers which is great news to share with grandparent caregivers in our practice. Link to this study and while you may not feel older after reading it even if you are a grandparent, you will certainly be wiser!

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