Grandparents Day September 7 2014

Much of my job and my spare time thinking, is absorbed by Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG) and the struggles, inequities and invisibility they, and the children they are raising, face. Grandparents Day always give rise to deep thoughts and deep discussion in our agency. Some of us are grandparents; all of us have or had grandparents; parents and children in our Circles usually know and love their grandparents, but none of us is a grandparent raising our grandchildren 24/7.

Holding sole responsibility for raising your adult child’s children is a totally unique experience and still strangely misunderstood, except, perhaps by others in the same or similar situation. The reasons children come to be raised by relatives are varied and can include the parent’s death; incapacity of one or both parents due to mental or physical illness or addiction; very young age of the parents; disappearance of one or both parents; poverty; or even recognition by the parent that the necessary skill and capacity to parent is just not there.

Grandparent led families can face much judgement, discrimination, assumption, and exclusion. Too often we hear stories of children being teased or bullied; grandparents being blamed for the parents’ choices or disabilities; or children feeling as if their family is “not normal”.  Here at Parent Support Services we know that the definition of a normal family is as varied as anyone can imagine and all deserve equal respect, inclusion and support.

We know too that many Grandparent led families struggle with financial obstacles parenting again can bring and with the complex needs of children with widely varying disabilities. When aging is an added factor along with grief and loss, family life becomes complex indeed. The quote we hear the most, goes something like “I’d do it again in a heart beat!”

On this Grandparents Day in 2014 we send greetings to all grandparents everywhere. We know children’s lives are enriched by your care and involvement.  We also send special applause to grandparents who are the full time caregivers for their grandchildren. We are committed to working towards a time when your contributions and the realities you face, are seen and valued by all.

Carol Ross, Executive Director