The changing role of grandparents

A family of 4 eats a spaghetti dinner at a table.
From left, nine-year-old Jamichael Cline, step-grandfather Scott Anderson, grandmother Shelley Anderson and 13-year-old Jachai Cline eat a spaghetti dinner at their dining room table Duluth, Minn., on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News

An estimated 2.6 million grandparents in the United States have primary responsibility for rearing their grandchildren. That number has been rising, in part because of parents caught up in the opioid epidemic. That’s one way that the role of grandparents has been changing lately. Grandparents who have a more traditional relationship with their grandchildren need to adapt to new parenting techniques, attitudes and technology.


Megan Dolbin-MacNab, an associate professor of human development and family science at Virginia Tech.

Janet Salo, family support specialist at Kinship Family Support Services which is part of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.

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Karen Ritz, founder of GrandyCamp, a Twin Cities based website designed to help grandparents finding resources and activities to do with their grandchildren.

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