16 year-old Derick Manley and his 13 year-old sister Kandace are still adjusting to life with their grandparents. Their grandmother, Della, had to make room for Kandace at the house by transforming the guest room.
Della Manley is 65 years-old. She is a retired business woman and her husband, 71 year-old William Manley, is a retired trucker. Both are raising their two grandchildren.
"It's a little bit harder because we're older. We don't have as much energy as we used to. We didn't anticipate ever being parents again. But this is our third go around," said Della.
But it is something Della says she had to do. "It's just kind of some circumstances in the family that caused us to need to raise the children," she said.
Before taking in Derick and Kandace, Della and William raised the kids' older brother, Max. Della and William adopted Max when he was 18 months-old and raised him until he was old enough to move out. Max is now 20 and married.
Della says it has been tough raising the kids financially. Their income comes from William's retirement checks and a business she sold five years ago. "Well, it's not as bad, I mean, it will get worse. We're still reaping from the selling of the business, and of course, we're living on part of that income. With the market declining the way it has, that has not helped us a lot. It's going to come to a point that we won't be able to buy their clothes and things. You know, they're going to have to take care of themselves."
Della and William are not the only grandparents raising grandchildren. They say they are surrounding by people in the same boat as them. "Ones across the street are raising their grandchild, and the girl that lives across the street, on the other side, her dad is here visiting, and they're raising their grandchildren," Della said, as she was pointing out where the people all lived.
In fact, according to the 2000 Lubbock County Census, 9,864 grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren.
Dr. Bobbie Snodgrass, specialist with Gerontology on aging, looked deeper into why more grandparents are taking over as primary caregivers. She believes it's a trend that started more than 30 years ago when the drug crazed 1960's and 1970's along with the women's movement paved the way. "Parents become drug addicts or alcoholics, they are mentally ill, they don't have enough money, or a parent dies," Dr. Snodgrass said.
In her study, Dr. Snodgrass says the number of grandparents raising grandchildren has increased nationwide. Between 1970 to 1994, the percentage of grandchildren living with their grandparents has increased from 3.2% to 5.6%.
And get this, Dr. Snodgrass was also raised by her grandmother. And now, she acts as a mother figure to her own grandchildren, after her son's divorce.
"Although they never lived with me, and I did not live with them at any point. I was called upon more than I would have been had if it was a different situation without a divorce," Snodgrass said about her own family.
As for the Manleys...
Where do you see yourself in five to seven years?
"In a rocking chair," Della said as she laughed.
Would you do it again?
"I think God put me on this earth to raise grandchildren," she said.
Derick is working to make his own money, and Della says the same goes for Kandace when she turns 16 in three years.
For more information on grandparents raising grandchildren (click here).