Since I've been a grandparent, I've been delighted by the ubiquity of other grandparents. I see them walking to the bus stop with their grandkids, waiting with them in the doctor's office and pushing them around in grocery carts. I see grandparent-grandkid pairings at the park, playground and library. It never occurred to me that sights like these could be hurtful to some, specifically to families who have been shortchanged on grandparents. After reading Allison Gilbert's Parentless Parents, I have more insight. Here's a bit of what I learned:
- Although people are living longer, they are also putting off having children until later in life, with the net result that many children are growing up without a full complement of grandparents.
- Children whose grandparents live far away still have it better than those without grandparents, because long-distance grandparents can get on a plane if they are really needed.
- The absence of grandparents may get harder as the children get older and there are more events in their lives that are usually attended by grandparents. Many parentless parents report that Grandparents Day celebrations are especially difficult for them and for their children.
I'm still going to enjoy my grandparent sightings, but I'll do so with more empathy for those who are missing the presence of grandparents in their lives.