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Susan Adcox

Growing Up Without Grandparents

By May 3, 2011

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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.

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Comments
May 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm
(1) Grandma Shelley says:

Excellent point. I never knew either of my grandfathers. They had both passed away before I was born. One grandmother had died when my own mother was just 8 years old. Her step-mother was my step-grandmother. My only real grandma passed away when I was just 11 years old.

As a girl, I didn’t really miss it because I didn’t know any different but now I so wished I had experienced having grandpas and more time with my grandmothers.

May 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm
(2) Karen says:

I pretty much grew up without grandparents. My children had grandparents 200 miles away. I am thankful everyday that one set of grandchildren live a mile and the other about 10 miles. Both are close enough to see often, and I can help out when needed.

May 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm
(3) Grandma Kc says:

I’ve often thought that what was needed is an organization similar to Big Brother or Big Sister — only Grandparents. I’m betting there are a lot of grandparents who have grands far away that would really enjoy being a grandparent to someone close by that needs them.

I am SO lucky to have my granddaughter close by and to get to attend many school functions. When Amara was in preschool they had a Grandparents Day where we painted together and had lunch together. Not all the kids had grandparents that could be there and so I got 2 extras! LOVED IT!! It is as close as I will ever get to having more than one grandchild and it was such a special day. And Amara really enjoyed sharing me.

May 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm
(4) Granny Nanny says:

When I was little I had no idea that the woman we would go to visit once in awhile and who lived but a few miles away from us, was my step-grandmother. I knew that she was my father’s step-mother, but I never thought beyond that. We had always called her by her first name, as did my father. No attempt was ever made to correct me.

Before she died, she told my father that she wished I had called her “grandma.” I remember feeling surprised because I had never thought of her as grandma. But I was also sad because no one ever made me aware of the relationship, and now it was too late. At seven or eight, my family probably assumed I could figure it out, but I never thought about it, and never thought to ask.

What a shame to have a grandmother and not even realize it; and what a shame to be a grandmother and not be acknowledged as such.

January 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(5) bonnie says:

No Grandparents. That’s me.Three of my Grandparents predeceased me. The remaining one , my father’s father , died before I was five. I have no memory of him at all .
It bothers me even now and I am 66 .
I hear some stories about my maternal Grandmother, Bessie .How kind and gentle she was .How brave as well. She came to the U.S. in the early 1900′s ,from Russia with one small child ,my Uncle Ben and her husband ,Sol ,my maternal Grandfather.The stories about him are not so nice.He was rumored to be mean ,stingy and violent. This makes me sad.
My Grandma ,Bessie ,was killed in a hit and run car accident when my mother was in her early 20′s . My aunt, my mothers youngest sister , lost her leg in the accident and my Grandfather did not last too much longer from what I have been told .
This is very upsetting for me ,even now. People have always told me that I am like my Grandmother Bessie . I don’t know if that is true.
My faternal Grandmother , Marie gave birth to 12 children. My father was one of the younger brothers. I know she lost a child ,the one that would have been born after my father.
She died before the end of WW2 . My father was unable to get home in time to see his mother before she died. He was in the Navy .This make me sad as well.
To have 12 children is very brave as far as I am concerned. I would love to have know her. I have pictures and she looks very cheerful and happy . Her husband , my paternal Grandfather looked a little intimidating .I have heard stories about how he beat up my father and was violent . This is upsetting to me on many levels . I don’t care that I can’t remember anything about him except one thing . He said I looked like a little “loaf of bread ” when I was born and I think that is where the nickname Bonnie came from but I am not sure.
I wish I had a keepsake from either Grandmother ,anything.
I just feel left out.

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