How Can the Extended Family Help to Raise American Kids?
The support of grandparents, aunt, uncles and other extended family members can help parents through the challenges of raising a child in the United States. Whether parents need advice or another type of support, extended family members can step in to offer help -- often with no strings attached. Even when extended families don’t live near each other, they can offer support and help.
The cost of child care can be expensive and even-post prohibitive for some families. According to the report, “Who’s Minding the Kids 2? Child Care Arrangements” from the U.S. Census Bureau, families spend an average of 7 percent of their income on child care 2. Families living below the poverty line spend 30 percent of their income on child care. Parents who have family living nearby can ask extended family members to help with daily child care or periodic babysitting. Even when a child attends a regular day care, extended family members can help watch the kids when they are sick so parents don’t have to miss work.
Parents can ask family members to help with the cost of attending a day care facility, activities for children or private school tuition. Parents can also rely on extended family members for the costs of basic necessities such as food, housing clothing and transportation. An unexpected job loss or financial obligation, such as a sick child that incurs medical expenses, can be overwhelming for parents. In these circumstances, extended family members can offer monetary support or even allow the parents and children to move into their home to help out with expenses.
Emotional and Physical Support
Support from extended family members is helpful in a variety of circumstances. They can give emotional support in a time of crisis or for daily tribulations. Advice from extended family members with parenting experience is also helpful when parents need help with a particular situation. Extended family members can even teach children how to read, ride a bike, tie their shoes or a variety of other skills when parents are unable because of time or physical restraints. When children are unable to talk to their own parents about something happening in their lives, it's helpful to know they can turn to another family member they can trust.
Extended family members play an important role in passing down family traditions and culture to new generations. Grandparents and other family members can share stories and activities to teach children about their heritage. Recipes, food, games and language are just some of the traditions and cultural activities that can shared with children by extended family members. Family gatherings during holidays, weddings or other celebrations are times where children can learn about the traditions of their own family.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Stepping Up for Kids - What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families
- U.S. Census Bureau: Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements - Spring 2011
- MSNBC.com: Extended family: How Friends and Neighbors Help Our Kids
- Education.com: Family Life Today
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images