Sunday September 12, 2010 marks the 36th anniversary of the founding of Grandparent’s Day in West Virginia by Marian McQuade, as well as the anniversary of the first official federal observance – September 9, 1979 — 31 years after being signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. It is also, funny enough, the 1 year anniversary of my becoming a grandparent!
Being a grandparent means so many things in American culture today. There are as many lifestyles and experiences as there are children! Grandparent’s Day is not just a holiday to pay homage to our parent’s parents and preserve heritage, but also to call attention to the expanding roles and challenges facing grandparents every day.
More than 1.5 million grandparents in the labor force are also responsible for most of the basic needs of their grandchildren. Often, grandparent-led homes are single grandparent families devoid of financial support from the child’s parents. The challenge is compounded when you consider that grandparents typically do not have legal rights over the children they care for and may also be impeded by their own health issues.
Grandparenthood means many different things to different families, but even if time or distance prohibits celebrating with the grandparents/grandchildren in your life, there is something everyone can do to honor, recognize and support grandparents all around us. Here are a few ideas:
• Conduct interviews with your children about what grandparents mean to them, and then make sure you share them!
• Take your children to visit grandparents in nursing homes.
• Conduct interviews with your eldest relatives to preserve for young children.
• Look into becoming a foster grandparent.
• Start or join a support group or online grandparenting community.
• Contact your local Agency on Aging or the local Grandparent Resource Center to obtain information on financial assistance, child care, and legal options.
• Offer respite care, or make time to visit and help out a grandparent caregiver or single parent.
• Watch home movies to reconnect with grandparents passed along and re-tell their stories.
• Make an effort to make sure photographs are preserved.
• Resolve to keep in touch with long distance grandparents – sign up for a free trial and send some sunnygrams.
What will your family do to commemorate?
Happy Anniversary to Grandparent’s Day!