In speaking to a women’s group several years ago, I shared that my goal in life was to write with the descriptive ability of John Steinbeck, the inspiration of Helen Steiner Rice, the wisdom of Solomon, and the humor of Erma Bombeck. If this Blog comes close to hitting any of those marks, I will consider it successful. While I have had the privilege of grand parenting over the past ten years, I cannot say that it has been in a role of raising my grandchildren. It has thus far been in the far more traditional role of spoiling them and sending them home. So, by what authority will I speak? I am, by profession, an educator and a researcher. With (according to the 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate U.S. Census Bureau) 211,919 children under the age of 18 living in grandparent headed households in Illinois alone, I will share with you experiences of some of those families. I will reference resources made available by local, state and federal agencies, and I will infuse the column with the wit and wisdom of my personal experiences. I encourage your comments as well.
In preparation for writing this blog, I have read articles, watched videos, looked at books, and talked with many grandparents. My conclusion thus far is that several generalizations can be made about families where grandparents are raising grandchildren. However, like most generalizations, for every statement there are a hundred exceptions. I have concluded that there are many issues that contribute to the rise in custodial grandparent households, most of which are related to substance abuse, divorce, severed relationships, poverty, abuse and neglect, unemployment, and military duty. No matter what the initiating event, these grandparents share a bond – the love for and care of children who need to be nurtured, guided and cared for. My friend Carol says about raising her grandchildren, “This is my chance to do right everything I did wrong twenty years ago.” No, we won’t do it all right, but when done out of love and experience, we will come closer than we might think.
Bill Cosby says it well, “In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck - and, of course, courage.”
Keep up the courage!