Any Dopers raised by their grandparents, or currently raising their grandkids?

The project I just finished at work involved writing responses from high schoolers about books they’ve read. Many kids picked books with a common theme: the protagonists of the books were raised by their grandparents after being orphaned or what have you.

I’ve never met a person raised by their grandparents, or anyone who is raising their grandchildren. But the dope is a big community, so I bet there are some people here who can relate to the books. If so, what is/was it like? Does fiction do either experience justice?

I was raised in the latter part of my childhood by my grandmother. my mom has always remarked with a hint of jealousy that they spoiled me, whereas they were strict with her. And yeah, it’s kind of true. My grandparents gave me a lot of freedom and encouragement. Since they were retired, we travelled a lot, which was a gret experience for a kid

I think, though, that I came out of the experience with somewhat of a quaint ettiquette, and I know for a fact that it affected my expectations of adult life. (Learning that I had to go to work every day and couldn’t just get up and go to Mexico if the whim took me was a bit of an unpleasant surpise.)

While they gave me a good work ethic, they never taught me money management. My grandmother is very frugal around the house, but buys whatever she wants, and grandpa is rather loose with money. To me, it was perfectly natural to go out and buy whatever I liked without notions of a budget. (I’d never paid my own bills, so I really didn’t realize how quickly it racked up.) Hubby, however, nearly had a heart attack when he got the Visa bill right after we moved in together. It was a rude awakening.

I learned some important lessons from them, though in cherishing the small joys of life, taking time to smell the roses and not letting myself get worked up over the small things. I learned patience and humor. From my grandfather, I learned you’re never too old to play.

So, all in all, there were benefits and drawbacks, just like in any family situation.

I was 13 months old when my mother and I were in a tragic automobile accident. I was plastered on billboards and featured in newspapers as a “miraculous survivor.” The entire car except for the portion with my carseat “disentegrated,” apparantly.

I had very few friends when I was growing up because their parents and my parents had such a generation gap. I was provided very high-quality clothes, though they were terribly “uncool.”

My grandfather worked quite a bit, and was rarely home. My grandmother was not able to play with me as a parent normally would do. Nobody knew that I could read until my first day at kindergarten. I had been reading an ancient set of World Book encyclopedias and large-print Reader’s Digest publications for quite some time by then. I’d not had much else to do but entertain myself for years. Sesame Street and memorized toddler books did me a world of good.

I had problems with money and still do. I resent that I am not able to write a check the moment that I find a bill in my mail. When I was growing up, there was no mortgage, cars were bought every three years and paid for with cash, credit cards were paid off in full the day that the statement was received. There was absolutely no debt in our home, and we had assets of about half a million dollars with pensions and Social Security payments as well.

Since my grandfather died when I was seven years old, I have had only my maternal grandmother to depend on as far as family goes. I have no siblings, I was an illegitimate child (so my father and his family are not involved,) my mother is dead, and my grandfather passed nearly twenty years ago. I, at 25 years old, am seriously having to consider what to do with myself once my last family member dies. My grandmother will be 80 years old very soon, and I am grateful as hell that she is still spry and alert.

My summer vacations were road trips with my grandmother and another senior citizen. I’ve been all over the US, but I’ve not gotten to do the things that I would have done had I been with younger caregivers.

I’ve never been allowed to ride a roller-coaster, and now I am afraid to do so. My grandmother calls me at least 6 times a day, even when I work a 12 hour day.

I’ve been to more than 30 funerals. More than 50 people I’ve known in my life (altogether) have passed away.

My situation is marked by tragedy, so YMMV, but I think that being raised by grandparents is a traumatic and difficult way to grow up. No amount of love or material provision can make up for what a child needs from true parents. At least, not in my case.

I could say so much more … I was provided for, definately. I became intelligent and mature much sooner than my peers. I also suffered from nearly-terminal depression and low self-esteem.

The pro’s and con’s are endless, and I’d wager that each person’s story is different.

Sorry for the choppy post. It’s a very upsetting topic for me, and I tend to lose my capacity for coherent and/or fluid verbal expression when discussing these matters.

Emphasis is mine. I apologize in advance for the triple posting. I’m fairly new to message boards, and when emotionally aroused, I tend to treat a board as my personal instant messager instead of what it is.

I failed to address the issue of reality versus fiction.

Most importantly, I doubt that fiction is a realistic view of all raised-by -grandparents scenarios. There seems to be, in fiction, two major themes for these cases: a hard-knock life of us-against-the-world-ism or a story of untarnished grandparental moral-infusing child-rearing. (Geez, my hyphenation is running rampant tonight!)

My grandmother was severely mentally/emotionally abusive. She was also a slave-driver (8 hours of classical piano on a TIMER was mandatory each day. This started at age 8 and I had no holidays.)

Even after hospitalization, I was required to make up lost hours of piano practice. I was, at the same time, expected to be top of my class at all times. All graded papers from homework to exams, were to have top marks. I was forced into tutoring (and made to work off the cost of the tuition) whenever my course averages dipped below 92%.

My grandmother knew my academic capabilities and expected me to get a scholarship to college. Unfortunately, by the time I finished the 10th grade, I was completely burned out. I’ve hated school (but not learning) ever since.

When she was upset with me, she would let anyone who would listen know how much of a slacker I was. However, if someone attacked me, or if I fell ill, I always knew that she would fight tooth and nail to protect/defent/assist me.

It was the best and worst of both worlds, from day one.

I don’t think that fiction could ever cover the realities and the intimacy of the issues that arise from this situation. I’d say that fiction could merely capture the spirit of such a case, unless the author had endured it himself/herself.

I’m really surprised to hear the side effect of money management problems as I too have been hopeless at all things financial since leaving the geriatric nest. Same scenario - no mortgage so they bought a new car every other year and we never even looked at prices at the grocery store, just threw in whatever we wanted. It’s been a hard habit to break though luckly I have zero debt. I’d never considered that it could be related. Fascinating…

Anyhoo, yes I too was raised from mid-childhood by my Grandparents. I loved it at first, her house was always clean and there was lots of food and the heating and waterheater worked (yes I lived quite a minimilistic life with my mom and her bf’s). She had no job so she showered me with attention and love…which I grew to hate in my teens years of course!

Severe depression from my years with my mother overshadowed it though, and I was shuttled back and forth before making a permanent move at the age of 14. I stopped going to school around the same time, shamed by my family problems and just hopelessly ill with depression and trying to cope with the rejection that neither of my parents wanted me. Took about 10 yrs for me to overcome that. My nana was supportive but she always made a point to say she wasn’t my mother which hurt because that was all I wanted. Still, she is my hero is so many ways. With her encouragement I went back and got my high school equivilancy, spent yrs saving and eventually fulfilled my dream of moving to England. I now have a decent job, can fully support myself (with money left for trips home!) and am reasonably content.

I miss having a nuclear family unit, going somewhere for christmas, calling a mother figure to chat about my latest bf (can’t talk to an 83 yr old about that!) etc. I get extremely emotional when I see my flatmates doing just that but, oh well…My Nana and I have a wonderful relationship now, chatting on the phone a few times a week and she is coming for her 2nd visit in a few months. :slight_smile:

My mother left me with my grandparents, while she when to look for work, when I was 8 days old. She came back four years later to pick me up. She never called or wrote during that time. My grandparents said no, she couldn’t take me, and she left. I saw her five times in 18 years.
My grandparents had raised six children of their own, so my grandmother was very bitter to have yet another child. She was probably bi-polar as well, so she was unpredictable.
My grandfather was a rock. he made life bearable.
They loved me, but I always thought I was in the wrong family.

I was raised by my grandmother until her death, when was 13. Given that she was living in a very small village in a particularily backward part of rural France, and where most of the villagers where elderly, like most of the relatives I knew (mostly great-uncles and aunts of whom I had a lot) it gave me the opportunity to know a lifestyle that was fading away : traditionnal small scale faming (two dozens of cows, as many chickens, some fields of wheat, some of potatoes, a pig that was slaughtered in automn, etc…), an old-style way of life (endless family meals, ending up with people chatting in occitan around (actually in, they were very large, with benches on the side) the fireplace and all sort of things that had probably dissapeared for a long time mostly everywhere else in France by this time, like hay picked up with forks, people drawing water from the well, making their own butter (manually, and the cows were milked by hand, too), etc… By the way, I still somehow mourn this now gone away lifestyle.

The other advantage, of course, was to live in the countryside, with all the usual expected activities for a kid. I still wonder what kids raised in cities/towns can do with their time.

The main negative sides : a boring childhood, especially since there were extremely few children, and all scaterred in small hamlets. And a lot of worry regarding my grand-mother declining health.

My grandparents mostly raised me along with my uncle, who was ten years older (so he was kind of my brother, too!) I loved them so much, although my grandfather was the most racist person I’ve ever known and my grandmother had… a lot of problems, let’s just say. They meant well and they did their best, and they taught me to agonize over each and every cent, but not handle money on a larger scale too well. My grandma actually did most of the raising, and was a mixture of the conventional and the unconventional (she had owned 4 dance studios, painted, and acted in plays.) I think of her and miss her every day… rest in peace, Grandma and Grandpa!

My mom just left after visiting us and I was finally able to put my finger on some feelings I’ve had for awhile and give a label to it. My mother, at age 75, is finally acting her age. Meaning she has been acting 75 for the last 25 years.

I was an accident and my parents were 40 and 42 when I was born. Nowadays having kids in your 40’s is normal. Back in the 60’s and 70’s it wasn’t.

When I was 8ish, my dad began the long decline into heart disease and other medical problems and then died when I was 10. My mom didn’t have the energy (or care?) to raise a hyperactive kid. I was left to fend for myself in many many ways. So I feel I was raised by a grandparent, and an almost resentful one, for much of my youth. I am sure my mom wanted to have a relaxed golden years type existence, not one full of typical teenage B.S.

I wish I could say we were financially stable, but it wasn’t that way for us - my father’s illness wiped the bank accounts out. So, tired mom, strict budget, etc.

My brother’s and sister have all at one point or another expressed how they wished they were able to help me out back then. I think they all could have, but they were busy living their lives. Oh well.


I was. My father died when I was about 2, I barely remember him. I think I was an “accident” myself, since my mother was around 40 when I was born. We all lived with my grandparents until my mother remarried. She moved about 6 miles away, I stayed with the grandparents because I was close to my grandfather.

This sums up my mother, who just turned 80, perfectly.

Oh my God. The singularly most traumatic moment of my life was not finding out that I was adopted and that I’d witnessed my mother’s death, but having my grandmother (my, by then, adoptive mother of more than a decade) say:

“I’m NOT your mother. I am your GRANDMOTHER.”

Never before nor since have I felt so alone.

I don’t mean to hijack a thread, but I had to tell someone:

My biological father has, for the first time in my life, done something for me!

Never a diaper, nor formula when my mother was killed, nothing …

But today, In my mailbox, I just found a check for $500! He knew we were having hard times, and I’ll be damned, but the man came through for me.
Twenty five years of nothing, and then this. How amazing. Now I have to figure out how to call the man and say “thank you.”