When Newsweek magazine was still around, they dedicated one page to volunteer editorials. It was called “My Turn”. I almost submitted an article back in the 1980s that I was going to entitle: The Death of Mother’s Day (You can see why I hesitated.) My premise was that from my pastoral perspective, grandparents were increasingly doing the parenting of grandchildren for any number of reasons. Cynically, I was suggesting that mothers no longer knew how to be mothers and Mother’s Day would soon be unnecessary, to be replaced by Grandmother’s Day.
Of course, Hallmark beat me to the Grandparent’s Day idea. It was last weekend by the way. And now that I have a grandchild, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. But while there still are plenty of Moms working to be the very best Moms they can be, for many, raising children requires grandparents. In a recent Pew Survey that came out just in time for Grandparents Day, we learn this:
In 2011, 7.7 million children in the U.S.–one-in-ten—were living with a grandparent, and approximately 3 million of these children were also being cared for primarily by that grandparent.
Both of these numbers rose rapidly after the onset of the recession in 2007 and have stabilized since 2009, when the recession officially ended, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
In most cases (71%), grandchildren living with a grandparent are actually living in the grandparent’s household. This share rises to 94% among those children who are also being cared for primarily by a grandparent.
Children who are cared for primarily by a grandparent are more likely to be living below the poverty line (28% versus 17%) and have lower median household income ($36,000 versus $48,000) than children who are not being cared for primarily by a grandparent.
In 80% of the cases where children are living with a grandparent, at least one of the child’s parents is also in the household. And in more than half of the cases where children are both living with a grandparent and being cared for primarily by that grandparent, at least one of the child’s parents is also present. Some 52% of children are living with one parent in addition to a grandparent caregiver, and an additional 8% are living with two parents.
Historically, families have always needed grandparents, uncles, and aunts to make a way for kids. I recently heard a national church leader suggest that with the decline of interest among Millennials in church, grandparents have a chance to give religious training to the next generation, their grandchildren. She suggested that someone should be developing resources for grandparents to train their grandchildren in the faith.
Can you tell we just started the Fall Sunday School program? On Sunday, we changed times and offered classes. While many stretch out those last few days of warm weather as long as they can into the fall, the rest of us have started the journey with this past Sunday. We dedicated teachers. We recognized Madeline and bid Maxine a farewell. The theme for the morning was about the Art of Spiritual Conversations. We had some fun and thought some important thoughts. You had to be there. Maybe you were.