To the Editor:
Your article on grandparents raising grandchildren prompted me to write in an effort to give those staggering numbers a very real face (“Grandparents Increasingly Getting Involved in Education,” Aug. 10, 2011). My granddaughter is a statistic. She is one of the millions of children being raised by a grandparent or other relative because her parents are unable to. One of the children who have to look at the “Magnificent Moms” bulletin board for the month of May. One who will not be bringing a dad to the “Dads and Donuts Day.” How do those children feel? Sad? Probably. Angry? Sometimes. Confused? Without a doubt.
I remember the day I first saw that confused look on my granddaughter’s tiny face. We were reading a book together, a story about a mommy and her baby bunny looking out the window, waiting for the daddy to come home. My granddaughter sat for a moment, processing the scene in her 2-year-old mind, trying to relate it to her own world. A look of innocent confusion crossed her face. Our different kind of story was nowhere to be found in any of the books in the library or bookstores. It was a story that needed to be told. A story teachers, coaches, and Scout leaders need to hear, that young friends on the playground need to hear—and that the children being raised by grandparents need to hear.
Yesterday’s standards of a family—one mother, one father, and 2.5 children—have changed drastically. Variations of the stereotypical nuclear family show us there are lots of ways families can work. What makes them work is love and caring. And lots of times, Grandma and Grandpa.
Ms. Byrne is the author of Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, Not Mommies and Daddies.
A version of this article appeared in the August 24, 2011 edition of Education Week as Grandparent Shares Story Behind the Statistics