The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010, 7 million grandparents had grandchildren living with them and 2.7 million grandparents provided the main support for at least one grandchild. Your teen's pregnancy can change your living arrangements and finances. It can also change your relationship with your teen and send the entire family on an emotional roller coaster ride.
New grandparents may find themselves financially responsible for a teen mom and baby. Some states, such as South Carolina, require parents to assume financial support of the baby born to a minor child, even if the mother and baby don’t live with the grandparents, according to Gregory Forman, a Charleston family law attorney. If the state doesn’t require it, you could still feel obligated to provide financial support that prevents your grandchild from suffering economically. This added financial burden can deplete your financial reserves for retirement and reduce the resources you have for current living expenses.
Your teen and the baby may live with you while the new mom tries to finish her education, providing part of the care while she attends school, studies, works and socializes. Having a baby in the house can interrupt your social life if you provide partial or total care for the baby, make sleeping difficult and create cramped quarters in your home with the addition of baby furniture and paraphernalia. Some grandparents find themselves hosting the baby and both teen parents, even if they aren’t married, further complicating the living arrangements.
Your teen's pregnancy can send you on an emotional roller coaster. You may feel disappointment that your child might not fulfill the dreams you had for her as she deals with the pregnancy and baby. You could be thrilled, disappointed, angry, frustrated and uncertain about the baby, all at the same time. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that you might despair because you believed you had years before you would be a grandparent and now plans you made must be laid aside to care for your child and grandchild. If your child places the baby for adoption, you could feel relief, sadness, grief and compassion for your child.
Relationship With the Parent
If you have a responsible teen, you may enjoy becoming a grandparent. However, if your child doesn’t act responsibly, you may fear for the safety of your grandchild and try to gain custody. Your teen might see you as always-available unpaid babysitters without you having any control over her actions, warns the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. This can strain your relationship further, leave you wondering what you did wrong and how to fix the relationship before you become estranged. Family or individual counseling can provide tools to help you cope with your teen and set some healthy boundaries.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups
- United States Census Bureau: Facts for Features -- Grandparents’ Day 2012
- Gregory S. Forman: Grandparent Child Support Responsibility When Their Minor Children Have
- Grandparents.com: Accidental Grandparents
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images