September 4, 2013

At Grandmother's House We Stay

Parents who Live with their Children While Children Are Being Cared for Primarily by Grandparents

Among children being cared for by a grandparent and also living with at least one parent, two-thirds (66%) have only a mother in the household, 21% have only a father in the household, and 14% are living with both parents. Among children who are being cared for primarily by a grandparent but living with just one parent, in most cases (76%) that parent is their mother. In comparison, minor children who live with a parent but no grandparent caregiver, some 27% have a mother only in the household, 7% have a father only, and two-thirds (66%) have both a mother and father in the household.

SDT-grandparents-new-08On most measures, parents who are living with their minor children while their children are being cared for primarily by a grandparent are disadvantaged, compared with parents who are living with their minor children and no grandparent caregiver. For instance, in households where the grandparent is the primary caregiver for the child, 44% of the parents gave birth as a teen, and 31% of the parents are under the age of 25.9 In households with no grandparent caregiver, just 18% have a parent who was a teen parent, and 5% include a parent under the age of 25.

And while 77% of parents in households with grandparent caregivers are unmarried, this number is just 31% among parents in other households.

Fully 29% of parents living in a household with a grandparent caregiver lack a high school diploma, compared with 18% of parents in other households. And while 22% of parents in households with grandparent caregivers are enrolled in school, the share is just half that (11%) for parents in other households.

Parents in households that include a grandparent caregiver are twice as likely to be unemployed as parents of minors in other types of households. While one-fifth (21%) of parents living with a grandparent caregiver are unemployed, the share is 10% among parents in other households.

Finally, while some 12% of parents in households that include a grandparent caregiver report that they have a serious disability, this share is 8% among parents in households with minor children and no grandparent caregiver.

Cite this publication: Gretchen Livingston. “At Grandmother’s House We Stay.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (September 4, 2013) http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/09/04/at-grandmothers-house-we-stay/, accessed on July 22, 2014.

  1. The estimates of parents who gave birth as teens, and parents who are under the age of 25 are calculated based upon the children with whom the parent is currently living. As such, they are likely underestimates of the total shares of parents with these characteristics.