Becoming a grandparent can be one of the most wonderful events in a person’s life. Grandparents are often the people who spoil grandkids and take every opportunity to dote on them.
However, millions of grandparents are stepping into far more active roles with their grandchildren. Grandparents are parenting them and raising them when a child’s parent is gone or unfit.
The ongoing opioid crisis is playing a major role in this shift. Parents who become addicted to opioids can be unable to parent their own children. They may expose them to dangerous situations or leave them unsupervised and without food or other necessities for long stretches of time. In too many cases, parents overdose and die.
And while national efforts are underway to tackle the opioid crisis, the children of those who are addicted often need immediate help, which is why we are seeing an increasing number of grandparents taking in their grandchildren. Under these circumstances, grandparents also often seek custody of their grandchildren to ensure they are safe and taken care of.
More than parenting challenges
Re-entering the parenting role can be a major adjustment for grandparents. They may need to work longer than they expected to or move to a bigger home. Instead of taking vacations or spending leisurely evenings with friends, grandparents may be picking kids up from school or staying up late with a sick baby.
And these challenges of being a parent aren’t the only difficulties grandparents face.
They can also be struggling with the legal elements of securing custody, which is often necessary to ensure grandparents have the right to make decisions for their grandchild. While North Carolina laws allow grandparents to petition the courts for custody when a parent is addicted to drugs, the legal system can be more complicated than people expect.
To alleviate some challenges of this situation, grandparents can work with an attorney to address the legal elements and pursue custody. Legal representatives can also connect grandparents with helpful resources to make the process of raising their grandchild a little easier.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for the opioid epidemic. As such, prioritizing the well-being of children of addicts will continue to be crucial and will likely continue to fall on grandparents.