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When Granny Becomes Nanny

Are roles changing for grandparents -- from granny to nanny?

In a survey of 10,000 grandparents across the country, 61 percent of those polled said they take care of their grandkids on a regular basis. Twelve percent said they were the primary caregiver.

Marian Robinson, the "first grandmother," is known to be the bedrock and stability of the Obama family, helping to raise her granddaughters, Sasha and Malia Obama.

In light of these economic times, many grandparents are becoming the babysitters du jour.

There are 56 million grandparents in the United States, according to They head 37 percent of households and have the highest net worth of any group, putting them in the best position to weather the economic downturn.

And, for some grandparents such as Jacqueline Rafla, a grandmother of 12, caring for grandchildren keeps them going.

"It's life, it's youth," she said on "The Early Show" Thursday. "You're reliving your own children through these little children."

This trend toward grandparent care is in part because of the recession. In fact, according to National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, 40 percent of grandparents now living within an hour's drive of their grandchildren provide regular child care -- and just eight percent of grandparents receive any pay.

So how do you manage this relationship respectfully without taking advantage of the situation?

Dr. Georgia Witkin, senior editor and grandparenting expert for, said 92 percent of grandparents don't want to be paid for watching their grandchildren, they just want to be appreciated for what they do for the family.

"[Grandparents] want to know that you know what they're doing is of value and money is not the only way of showing that," she said.

Witkin said caring for the children is "worth it" because grandparents get to feel needed again.

"A the lot of us are busy working and so forth, but this is part of what we've done before, we'd do it again, and we're doing it for the family in hard economic times," Witkin said. "We've seen it before. The family comes together. If you're helping your son or daughter work, it's good for you. It's good for your grandchildren. Instead of leaving them the out now and get appreciation."

Witkin added the benefits are also present for the children with grandparent care, including a low adult-child ratio, which she said, is much better than at daycare. In addition, she said the food is better and the children are getting unconditional love.

Another benefit or grandparent care, she added, is that several studies have suggested children who have a great grandparent presence have less delinquency and less drug abuse.

Witkin also gave these tips for grandparents taking care of grandchildren:

Parent Yourself: "If you're taking care of everyone else, remember to parent yourself too. Not better than everybody else, but put yourself on your own list of loved ones."

Pause: "Pace Yourself. Remember to pause. [Women] typically take care of everybody else...The moment you have down time, those children are busy watching TV, do something for yourself instead of another chore."

Play: "I love grandmothers taking care of grandchildren because the grandchildren will never remember all the laundry you do, but they will always remember the day you went down the slide with them or you were in the pool with them. You know what I say to the grandmothers and grandmas too? 'Go out and play with them. Don't just send them out to play.'"

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