With my grandsons visiting last week during spring break, we planned some of the usual fun things we like to do together. Their parents took several days away on their own so we got a chance to enjoy the boys alone – shooting baskets at the park, cooking, bowling, playing piano duets, swimming, going on day trips, and, of course, lots of hugging. During one of those day trips in the car – to a rural farm where we all picked strawberries – I also spent some time talking with them about values that are important to me. Afterwards, I wondered why I felt the need to teach them as well as have fun with them.
I realized that I wanted to pass on to them some nuggets of wisdom I had gathered over the years as well as help them develop into good citizens. In a sense, I needed to pass on to them my survival strategies, ethics and social morality. Not so different from the situation in other cultures in which grandmothers are the guardians of traditional values, the possessors of indigenous knowledge and the storytellers of family history.
Research indicates that grandmothers – particularly those in developing countries – help grandchildren survive and thrive into adulthood. This is known as the Grandmother effect. In most societies, grandmothers provide at least some financial aid to their grandchildren as well as helping their children with domestic chores and childcare assistance. The U. S. Census Bureau has been tracking the numbers of grandparents caring for their grandkids – today there are upwards of 1.5 million working grandparents who are also supervising the younger generation.
In recent years, there has been a Granny boom due to the increased life expectancy and quality of life among seniors. With these increased numbers, the role of grandmothers will likely take on even greater importance in the rearing of children in years to come. With everything else changing so rapidly, the stability that a grandmother can provide can be just the anchor a child needs.
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