Monday, 29 April 2013

Where have all the Grandparents gone?

Apparently, what with people marrying and/or having children later, people are becoming grandparents at an older age. Makes sense. So "a 40-year-old mother who has to wait the average 30.6 or 40 years for her child to become a parent will be 70 or 80 by the time she herself becomes a grandparent."

This means several things:

  • Parents have less support from their own parents in the raising of their children. This is true already with families scattering all over the globe, and with marriage breakdowns as common as they are, but will become even more common when grandparents are older and therefore less able to cope with the physical demands of caring for children. This makes the demands of family life more difficult to deal with. It also contributes to isolation or compartmentalisation of the family into separate units, which should instead be an organic, dynamic whole, with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews all supporting each other and growing together.
  • Children miss out on a deeper level of intimacy with their grandparents. 
  • Likewise, grandparents miss out on a deeper level of intimacy with their grandchildren.
  • Finally, if the children and grandparents aren't bonding, probably neither are the children's parents nourishing their relationships with their own parents. Everyone is missing out.

The article goes to great lengths to make sure women still feel comfortable with their "choice" to have children later. It calls normal grandparenting "traditional" grandparenting, because in the modern mind, anything traditional is bad (traditional marriage, religion, etc. all bad.)
It claims that all we have to do is adjust our expectations of family life, because this change isn't necessarily bad, it's just different. It's the way things are now, so we have to deal with it. There is no "ideal" family situation.


Family is a beautiful thing

This attitude is seen in the initiative mentioned at the end, wherein surrogate grandparents are recruited. Unfortunately, this merely treats the symptom (lack of grandparents) rather than the real causes (marriage breakdown, delaying children, geographic separation- this one I realise sometimes cannot be helped, but perhaps family togetherness (as well as church togetherness) could be factored into living decisions more often, rather than giving such precedence to personal comfort or preference. It is really only a result of the way the world functions now, and perhaps it is not the best way, so that perhaps is the primary cause that should be treated.)

And imagine if you were the real grandparents? Replaced, just like that!

This attitude also says that biology is unimportant. This is a part of the push for allowing same-sex couples to adopt, as well as single women to have children via sperm donation and IVF, or for couples to have children via surrogate mothers, or any other of the plethora of strange bio-ethical issues that exist today.

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