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Texans raising grandchildren have extra parenting challenges

Most parents have dreams of sending their children off into the world, either to college or the workforce, and reveling in that empty nest with all the free time they could possibly want. But many Texas residents with children find themselves dusting off their early childhood parenting skills when their children are unwilling or unable to raise their own offspring.

Grandparents raising grandchildren is not a unique concept, but the practice has become more common over the past several years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5.8 million children across the United States are living with their grandparents. There's a wide range of circumstances that lead to this family dynamic, from the economy to substance abuse problems of the children's parents, but the end result is pretty much the same. Grandparents take up the reins, and with them all the responsibilities of raising successful, well-adjusted adults.

Sometimes children come to live with their grandparents as teenagers; in other families the grandparents take their infant grandchildren home from the maternity ward. Many Texas grandparents agree that the job is actually easier when the children come to them as babies and toddlers because the adjustment for the children is small to non-existent. But for the grandparents, taking on another generation of parenting can be exhausting. Fortunately, there are support groups in Texas and other states to help them deal with the more modern challenges of the typical parent-child relationship.

There are also legal challenges to consider. If the child's parents are still living, grandparents may want to seek legal custody. This allows them to not only collect child support, but protect the child's best interests in the event that an abusive or neglectful parent decides to take over child-raising duties. Applying to become the child's legal guardian gives grandparents the ability to make educational and medical decisions for the children and in some cases, control over when the parents can see their children.

A family law attorney can help you determine what protections you should put in place. Although many grandparents can feel isolated as they try to provide the best upbringing possible in an unconventional situation, those raising their grandchildren can rest assured there is help available.

Source: News-Journal, "Grandparents take on responsibilities of raising kids," Angela Ward, Sept. 23, 2012

· Our firm handles grandparents' rights, custody and a wide variety of other family law issues. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Dallas family law website.

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