Besides fame, what do Willie Nelson, Carol Burnett, Jack Nicholson, and Oprah have in common? They were all raised by grandparents.
Willie warned mommas to not let their babies grow up to be cowboys. To explore his musical talents was what Willie’s grandparents helped him do. If you’re a Boomer, you surely remember every ending of The Carol Burnett Show, with the star tugging on her ear. It was a love signal to her grandmother, the one who encouraged her to develop her comic side.
According to a recent USA Today article (http://usat.ly/nLa1Pc),
3.1 million children in the United States are living without a parent in the household; 59% of those live with grandparents. The reasons are many: drugs, mental illness, divorce, the economy.
Perhaps it was growing up in rural poverty the first six years of her life that motivated Oprah to rise above what seemed certain to be her future in life-or perhaps it was her grandmother’s inspiration. Jack Nicholson grew up thinking his mother was his sister, and his grandmother was his mother (Chinatown, anyone?). Whereas it’s crucial to parent your grandchildren while their mother or father is absent, it’s also important to let them know who you are-the grandparents in their extended family.
Only the future will tell what influence you’re having on your own grandchildren, what imprints will remain forever in their hearts. I may inspire my two year-old grandson to be an author, even though he can’t even write his name yet. The little one loves to strum along the guitar with his musically-talented aunt-maybe he’ll be a musician, too.
Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, raising grandchildren after raising children, and you’re simply trying to get through the day. Keep in mind that you’re not just the primary caregiver at this point in your grandchild’s life, you are the primary love-giver, example-giver, life-giver. It’s a daunting task and a blessing, too. Remember that we’re not alone.
Our grandchildren may live with us for another two months or twenty years-the future is uncertain. Fame and fortune is an unknown. The one thing I’m certain they’ll learn is unconditional love.
Resources for grandparents:
State Fact Sheets for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising children: www.grandfactsheets.org
Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center: www.grandfamilies.org
Grandfamilies of America: www.grandfamiliesofamerica.com
National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights: email@example.com.