In a world full of change, how are the grandparents coping?
From Grandma Thunder
Marian McQuade valued a family-style where grandchildren are able to tap into the wisdom and heritage of their grandparents. To give energy to her dream, she had Grandparent’s Day proclaimed by Jimmy Carter, and a good thing it is, as seniors are one third of our population. Now every September we enter into a new conversation about the well-being of our older generation.
Family is a fundamental building block of society often forgotten in a strident argument about rights. On the other hand one has to remember that in a changing world, the family form has to be ever fluid.
In ancient Greece the family was considered all of the people living together under one roof, whatever the sexual orientation, and this even included the servants! In the West we have come to support the idea of a nuclear family – nuclear meaning ‘core’ as distinguished from the ‘extended family’ that includes grandparents and first level aunts, uncles and cousins.
Economic realities and a new need for connectedness has undermined the American nuclear family. In Africa the extended family was a popular model with grandparents honored and revered, but with the HIV it is now the grandparents who, sadly, are raising the orphan children. The Chinese model is also getting broken down by industrialization and the Communist mandate of ‘only one child’.
So what can we say? We can say that like everything else families are changing and the only stable datum in a world of change is that there will be change.
It seems to me that it is about how well you make what you have, work for you.
I don’t have any fixed idea of what a family should be, although I do believe that family is important. It is important for the individual and for society, but it is especially important for children. There seem to me to be three things we need to watch and to control as our families change:
- Do the children have love, security and stability in a family they can call their own and a family that will last throughout their childhood?
- Do all the family members have freedom of choice?
- Do all of the family members feel loved and included? Do they have that sense of belonging imparted in all good families?
I look around in America and see many failing families, yet in my own little circle there are two shining examples, two families I would give an almost perfect family score.
There was once a father with two young girls, whose wife left them. He remarried a very warm and wonderful woman who raised the girls. The girls in turn married with one daughter having two girls and the other three boys. The closeness in this extended family is to be envied. They all holiday together at least once a year, sometimes twice. The grand kids visit their grandparents (off their own bat) and often write and email and always keep in touch even although one boy is in the military. The closeness of this bigger family unit is almost palpable.
The second family is far different in basic structure but equally successful. In one home lives a single-parent mom, a grandma and a grand daughter – all of them women. In another home the son lives with his partner, yet it is he who does the man-things, who is the handy-man for the women. They have all united around the goal of getting the grand daughter, a lovely young woman, through her college and they have created a business together to make this happen. All family members get along and are observably close.
Both of these families have religion and this would seem to be a uniting factor.
The Grandparent-Day flower is the forget-me-not. Can we all use the flower’s message to take our own family up a notch or two in caring?
For Get Me Not Flower (Sunday 9th September)
Quote for the Week
Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. ~Pam Brown