Second time around: Local group offers support for grandparents raising grandchildren

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
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At Jackson Senior High School's commencement ceremony, the administration repeatedly referred to the graduates' parents and grandparents. This wasn't just a nice way to include the extended family attending the event; it was also a way to include the grandparents who had raised the young men and women about to march across the stage with diplomas.

New census data shows an increase in the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren. One in 10 grandchildren is now being raised by grandparents -- yet many of these grandparents feel very alone. That is where grandparent support groups come in.

Mary Gosche, human development specialist at the University of Missouri Extension office in Jackson, leads a monthly support group for area grandparents who are looking for an opportunity to meet people with similar struggles. Gosche says they are able to share common problems and support each other in the good and bad times, as well as share their knowledge, strength and hope with one another. In addition to meeting these emotional needs, the group serves to "educate members on resources in the community -- legal resources, health resources, parent education and school assistance," she says.

According to Gosche, group members report benefiting from the emotional, social and educational support offered during the monthly meetings. This supports the research that grandparent support groups make a difference in the lives of these grandparents and the children they are parenting.

The University of Missouri Extension facilitates supports groups in Jackson, Charleston and Poplar Bluff, Mo. Refreshments are provided at the monthly support group meetings and baby-sitting is available upon request. The next meeting is at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 at the Cape Girardeau County Extension Center, 684 W. Jackson Trail. For more information, call the center at 573-243-3581.

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