University of Illinois Extension

Babies and More Babies

Diane Ryals, Family Life Educator

Margie's daughter has lost custody of three children and is pregnant again. Margie is raising the three grandchildren. She is frustrated and angry about the pregnancy because she knows her daughter won't raise this child either. Does this sound familiar?

One common challenge faced by some grandparents raising grandchildren is having a daughter who keeps having babies. Many of these young women are not thinking of the consequences of their actions. Drugs and/or alcohol abuse and sometimes prostitution may be involved. These young women often do not think ahead enough to use birth control. Even when they plan to use protection, they often do not follow through.

Many, but not all, have problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Some may be mentally unstable and, like the young women mentioned above, are not thinking about birth control.

Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions for grandparents who end up raising their children's children. Options, although not encouraging, might include:

  • Continuing to care for each child, even though your finances and energy level may be dwindling.
  • Encouraging the daughter to use permanent contraception. The final decision, however, still lies with the daughter.
  • Choosing to keep only a set number of the grandchildren. Being realistic about how many you can physically, financially, and emotionally handle is critical. Others may have to be raised by foster parents, adoptive parents, or other relatives.

One thing you, as a grandparent, must come to terms with is that you have no control over what your daughter does. You must decide what you will or will not do. Your decision needs to be based on what is best for you and the grandchildren you already have, not what is best for the next baby.

Remember, if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to adequately care for even one grandchild.