Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grandparents Raising Grandkids

It is so hard to leave a one or two sentence status on Facebook and have everyone understand the whole picture. I did that recently when I posted my displeasure with grandparents raising their grandchildren. Sometimes I take for granted that everyone will know what I'm talking about. The grandparents understood. Go figure. I want to make myself more clear so that if anyone is offended, it will be with all the information and not with a couple sentences. Being offended is not the be all and end all of what everyone needs to avoid. Sometimes the truth is difficult to hear.
I have the benefit of being an outside viewer of the daytime world. I get to be at the zoo during the day, the park during the day, the store during the day, etc. Working mom's and dad's do not get to see this as often as I do. So, here I am to tell you what I see and what bothers me.
I have so many examples , I don't know where to start. Let me begin with a few experiences I have had
#1 As I am walking around Science City with a couple of my kids, an older man looks at me, points and says to his wife, "Look, its a real mom with her kids." My eyes metaphorically opened for the first time. He was right. Nearly all the kids there were accompanied by their grandparents.
#2  I was in the park one day watching my kids play. The old man beside me called for his granddaughter to come home. Not only did she not come but she was hateful and rude about it. I can't tell you the rage I have when anyone, in spite of their age, is rude to our elderly. I wanted to do unthinkable things to this girl. I wanted to help the old man but I knew that would entail pulling and dragging and possibly some humiliation on grandpa's part so I left. I couldn't watch it.
#3  I'm at Pizza Street and see Grandma and Grandpa with a newborn baby and a toddler. I get sick to my stomach when I see newborns without their Mommy. Dogs don't leave their puppies that soon and they grow 7 times faster than humans. When the baby started to cry, he/she must have cried for about 5 minutes before Grandma was able to get the bottle, unbuckle her, pick her up and get situated back in her seat.
#4  I go to my neighbors house to tell her what her son had just done with 20 tubes of my toothpaste. She comes out the door and after walking about 10 feet, she says that she can't walk any further because of a broken hip a year ago. Really? This poor woman! How can she keep up with a 7 and 5 year old every day?
#5  The few times I have visited Theresa at school for lunch, I see a Grandpa from my Cub Scout Pack who is also eating lunch with his grandson. He religiously brings him to all the den meetings, and all the Pack meetings and events. It hurts him to have to camp with him but he does it anyway. He has taught this boy well and is very polite and well-mannered. He told me last summer that he doesn't think he should register as a leader because the doctors told him that he may only have a year left to live.
#6  I'm at the grocery store and see a grandma with a baby in the cart and a toddler walking the isles. I watch her shop with a limp and load her car and the kids when I notice that she only has use of one arm.  
#7  Another neighbor raised 3 kids and because of her sisters bad choices, she is now raising 3 more. I could write pages upon pages of the problems she has had to endure. I praise her for taking on this responsibility.
#8  I am at the Pack Meeting with the Cub Scouts. In walks Grandma and Grandpa with their grandson, Caleb. Grandpa has had back pain that comes and goes for several years. Grandma has multiple medical issues that are too numerous to count and many times, she has great difficulty speaking. And she almost always has a problem walking. These grandparents have put aside their retiring years to raise their grandson. I bow in their presence! They will stop at nothing to give their now adopted son the best life possible and will sacrifice everything for him. Why do I want to bow whenever I see them? Because they have taken on a role that SHOULD have belonged to someone else.
If these stories do not pain you then let me explain why they pain me. After all, everyone's entitled to my opinion right?
I do not believe that grandparents are a terrible or last resort choice. They have raised their children and deserve the right to spoil and send home their grandchildren. One of my friends had told me, "I can never explain to you how it feels to be a Grandma." Oh, I long for that feeling! I long for other grandparents to have that feeling. They are robbed of that feeling, in spite of the circumstances, when they have to turn into a mom and dad all over again. Think of the difference between finding out your going to be a grandparent and finding out your pregnant again when your 55. Yeah. Big difference isn't it! One is a feeling of excitement, shopping, anticipation, smiles and giddiness. The other is, "What the HELL??!!"
After we grow up and leave the nest, I feel like it is time for the tides to turn. Now, we are grown, able adults that need to serve our parents. We need to fix the leak, repair the floor, help build the new deck, take them to the doctor, provide them comfort and to never ever ask anything in return. They have served their time, defended their country, spent thousands of dollars on you, raised their children. Now it is time to say "Thank you", not, "give me more...oh, and for no pay..please and thank you.."
If the people that replied to my status truly understood what I meant when I said that parents need to step up and raise their own kids then this is how I interpreted their replies...
"Well, I am happy that my grandparents raised me..." What I read is..."I'm so glad my mom was too young and making bad choices to raise me."
"My Mom  really wanted to be my baby's care giver"...What I read is..."My Mom thought she would be a better caregiver then me." I jokingly asked my mom when she was about 50 years old what she would do if she got pregnant. She laughed and said, "I would give the baby to you." There was much wisdom in that response. She knew the best upbringing for her baby would be with a young energetic Mom and not one that was done and retired from it. And not just any young, energetic mom either. Me. What a nice compliment.
"If we didn't have grandparents raising their grandchildren, we would have more kids in the system"...What I read is..."If my parents died today, my kids will belong to the state. Really? Its THAT bad for you?
Where do my opinions come from ? It comes from my upbringing. My mom's siblings always cared and served my grandparents. I never knew that it was any other way.  I don't think they knew there was any other way either. The world was starting to change around us and my mother felt compelled to tell me that she was not going to raise my kids. "You will be a mom one day and I will be a grandma and we are to take on our roles with gusto." So, what happened when I got pregnant out of wed lock? Many....MANY girls and women find themselves asking this question. My answers were different then others. I didn't have the option to pass on my baby to my parents. So I was left with 2 choices...give away my baby to a 2 parent married mommy and daddy or provide the 2 parent mommy and daddy myself. Does anyone see a problem with my only 2 options? They both sound like they were in the best interest of the child and not myself. My mother has wisdom far above and beyond any woman I know. Was I upset that she said she wouldn't raise my kids for me? No way! I learned from an early age that if I bought it, I took care of it...if I damaged it, I replaced it...if I wanted it, I saved my money for it...and if I birthed it, it was mine and I cared for it! Bottom line...if parents insist that they will not be robbed of being a spoiling grandparent and the child understands that parents are to be served and not used then the chances of being in this "grandparents raising grandchildren" role will greatly diminish.
Is there ever a circumstance that would make me ever raise my grandchildren. Absolutely! 
#1  If one of the parents passed away...and all my other children passed away too. I am raising my kids to be fine young people. They have the free will to throw it all away and make bad choices but if they hold fast, I promise you that they will each make a finer parent then me when they are young adults and I'm 60 something.
#2  Daddy is off to war. I will be there every step of the, laundry, shopping, babysitting, etc.
#3 My child becomes an idiot and is a terrible parent...oh, and all my other children are idiots or pass away. lol. See? There's a benefit to having a lot of children. What are the chances that my grandchild has to bypass 7 other aunts and uncles to get to me?
#4  If my child is insistent that he/she is going to work and will put my grandbaby in daycare. I will wait until the last day and finally break down and agree...for equal pay. I'm not a servant! Oh, this is contingent on all my other children refusing this job first. I sincerely believe that a grandparent is a better choice for the child then daycare because they have an invested interest and truly LOVE that child.
#5 If our family decided to live and raise all the growing children in the extended family like they do in other cultures then I would be all over that. These are not the cases I am referring to however.
I think you get the idea.
So, I never addressed the majority of reasons I hear..."We do what we have to do...I have to work...We could never make it on my husband's salary..." To which I respond...Maybe not....BUT, maybe SO and even probably so. People DO do what they have to do and if Mom and Dad are NOT there, people find a way. They always do. My friend lost her job for a year and her kids came back home with her. For a year she couldn't find a job and for a year, every bill was paid and they cut back. When people are backed into a corner, they don't crumble and die or resort to prostitution, they find a way. If your parents died today, you would find a way.  "Let not your heart be troubled."

1 comment:

  1. Where is the "like" button? I just want to say Amen to all of the above!