Joanne Kaufman’s article in the March 5 issue of The New York Times is headlined “When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered,” and starts off with what seems to me like a clear exaggeration: “For every Marian Robinson, who retired from her job to take full-time care of her grandchildren, Malia and Sasha Obama… there is a Judy Connors, who loves her two grandchildren but has no interest in Candy Land, peekaboo or bedtime stories.” The piece goes on to talk about grandmothers who are adamantly uninvolved.
This article feels like a man-bites-dog story, in which a writer discusses something so unusual that it’s of special interest. Sure, there are hands-off grandmothers, and I’ve heard of a few, but from my reading, experience, and contacts, they’re far fewer in number than the Marian Robinsons of this world. Of course, many of today’s grandmothers cannot leave their jobs to raise grandchildren full-time, but in the process of writing my book, SUPER GRANNY: GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, I have met many working grannies who offer part-time care, or who manage to find time to pitch in when needed at odd hours and days.
As I was researching my book, I signed up for a free service offered by Google, called “Google Alerts.” To bring me news about grandparents and grandchildren, the robots at Google comb newspapers around the U.S. and abroad for stories about “grand” doings, and send a daily report. Reading these reports, I was impressed by how involved today’s grandmothers are with this younger generation. Despite the fact that a great many of today’s grannies have important jobs themselves, perform valuable community services, pursue time-consuming hobbies, and often live far away, the great majority of them are there for their children and grandchildren, and find many ways to have fun with them.
One of the women quoted by Ms. Kaufman said, “I raised two children whom I love dearly . . . I was a stay-at-home mom. Then I discovered when I started my own career that there was a whole other world out there.” Hello??? This woman seems to frame the issue as an all-or-nothing affair, which seems to be an extremely rare way of looking at it. I don’t judge hands-off grandmothers for their choices, but I do think that those who have this kind of attitude are depriving themselves of some glorious experiences. To read the New York Times article, go to: