BACKGROUND: As of 2015, approximately three million children in the United States were being raised primarily by their grandparents. This study aims to examine, in a large national sample, to what extent grandparents raising grandchildren (GRGs) have difficulty with discipline and meeting their grandchild’s educational and social needs, find computers/other technology challenging, and subscribe to outdated health beliefs.

METHODS: An anonymous online parenting questionnaire was administered to GRGs recruited through state and local grandparent support groups and elderly service agencies.

RESULTS: 733 grandparents that self-identified as the primary caregiver of one or more grandchildren met inclusion criteria. 56.5% of GRGs reported difficulties with discipline, and 19.1% believed corporal punishment to be an appropriate method of discipline. Approximately a third of GRGs reported difficulties with their grandchild’s education, social and recreational activities. Nearly a third of GRGs did not find using their grandchild’s school website or portal to be easy; those who had difficulty were more likely to experience difficulties registering their grandchild for school (τ = -.127, p = .007) and were less likely to feel that teachers maintained adequate contact (τ = .242, p < .001). A large percentage of GRGs subscribed to outdated health beliefs, such as scrapes healing better if they are not covered with a bandage (64.0%) and ice baths beingan appropriate treatment for a fever (39.8%).

CONCLUSION: GRGs encounter significant parenting challenges, owing to generational differences. Healthcare providers and other professionals should provide GRGs with anticipatory guidance to ensure grandchildren’s needs are properly met.