Drug Addiction is a Scourge on the Earth and my Grandchildren are its Victims: the Tough Love and Resilient Growth Exhibited by Grandparents Raising the Children of Drug-Dependent Mothers
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Parental drug-usage is a risk factor for child neglect. Maternal drug-dependency, in particular, has far reaching implications for the mother, her children, and the grandparents who are left to rear the children when the mother’s drug-dependency prohibits her from doing so. Thus, drug-related maternal incapacity to adequately parent her child/ren places a tri-generational burden on society. This study aimed to broaden understanding of this burden. In this regard, forty-nine custodial grandparent interviews were subjected to thematic analysis. Grandparents typically revealed their daughter’s marijuana usage began in early-mid adolescence, progressed to heavy drugs, and led to an early exit from the family home. A teen-aged pregnancy commonly followed. Grandparents when becoming aware of their grandchild/ren’s mother’s continued drug use and repeated instances of child neglect issued the the children’s mother with a ‘go-into-rehab-or-lose-your-custodial-care-of-your-child/ren’ ultimatum. Drug-dependent mothers were often unable to meet this ultimatum and grandparents then transferred their energies into caring for their grandchild/ren. The implications of this grandparent investiture shift are discussed, and future policy considerations are tabled.
KeywordsMaternal drug-dependency Child neglect Grandparent custodial care Tough love ultimatum Grandparent social isolation Resilient growth
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