“We all want what’s best for our grandchildren and the urge to protect them can be overwhelming. In our home the love is ever flowing and we all benefit. Recognizing the many ways these heroic grandparents enrich the lives of their grandchildren also recognizes their contribution to the health and well-being of our broader community and is appropriate and neighborly.“
Listening to friends and relatives over the years I have heard that becoming a grandparent is an extremely moving and emotional experience. They say that the safe arrival of this newest family member makes their hearts swell with love – a different kind of love to when they became parents.
Having heard many versions of these emotions I imagined I was prepared for the moment it happened to me. I was ecstatic to become a parent when both my children were born over 30 years ago, but becoming a grandparent opened floodgates of emotions and love I was not prepared for. This living breathing 6 pound 10 ounce baby girl, who arrived in July is cherished by her adoring Mimi and Pops. This little human female changes every hour, becomes more interesting every day and if she so much as sneezes, then no other baby has ever sneezed quite like her or looked as cute when doing so! Seeing my youngest son and his wife take care of their baby makes my heart burst and fills me with gratitude.
I began to understand more clearly the love poured on me by my own grandparents and the many instances in which they supported and encouraged me. The fact that my maternal grandmother had 2 sisters who were single and were like “bonus grandmas” made me especially lucky.
So over the last few months I have been trying to understand my role as a grandparent more clearly. I want to read to her and play with her and by showing love and giving guidance I hope I can pass on some wisdom and make lots of happy memories. I want to instill our ethnic heritage by passing on family traditions.
Many people flourish in their role as grandparents. Some say jokingly “fill them with sugar then send them home” but joking aside, for some families there may not be a stable home to send them home to. For many different reasons, some parents are unable to offer a secure home to their children and a decision about their welfare needs to be made. Regardless of the reasons why, many grandparents make the decision to commit to raising their grandchildren to ensure they grow up in a safe and loving environment.
There are thousands of examples of this and according to the 2020 Census in the American Community Survey, recent data reveals that there are more than 87,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in North Carolina. Many of these grandparents are our neighbors here in Rowan County and their decision to raise their grandchildren keeps these children out of the overburdened foster care system and keeps siblings together in the home. They make countless sacrifices for their family which may often go unrecognized.
Grandparent Data collected during the Census helps federal agencies understand the special provisions needed for federal programs designed to assist families. These data also help measure the effects of policies and programs that focus on the well-being of families, including tax policies and financial assistance programs.
Taking on the role of main caregiver may present uncomfortable conversations or questions. Raising a grandchild can present many challenges which include gaining legal custody; the increased financial burden of housing, food and clothing costs; dealing with a child’s emotional, behavioral and physical difficulties; accessing support services to manage the demands of raising their grandchildren. With this added responsibility grandparents have less time for themselves, less time to spend with their friends and this loss of social connections can lead to feelings of isolation.
Despite these challenges and through the grandparent’s resilience, there are benefits too. Having an opportunity to parent for a second time; watching their grandchildren grow and thrive and gaining satisfaction from giving their grandchildren a better chance at life.
We all want what’s best for our grandchildren and the urge to protect them can be overwhelming. In our home the love is ever flowing and we all benefit. Recognizing the many ways these heroic grandparents enrich the lives of their grandchildren also recognizes their contribution to the health and well-being of our broader community and is appropriate and neighborly.
“Dear Neighbor” authors are united in a belief that civility and passion can coexist. We believe curiosity and conversation make us a better community.