Archives for category: Perents/grandparents

There is so much bad news across the world at present. The Islamic war continues which seems to affect so many different people, both in the areas where they have taken over and in other countries where their rule doesn’t exist. Now we have the added devastation in Nepal, a country which is never regarded as wealthy at the best of times. This can only increase the poverty. In the midst of all this it is the very young and older people who suffer the most because both groups lack the physical strength and capabilities to cope with the situation.

When I first heard about the grannies in Canada connecting with their counterparts in Africa who have to struggle to bring up their grandchildren after their parents die of AIDS, I hoped that this was to be the start of something bigger. This connection is not just fundraising but also the one-to-one contact, and friendships, between the two groups of grandparents. I eagerly joined, only to find that it wasn’t an idea that was spreading but an extension of the fund-raising part of their work. The personal contact didn’t exist beyond the original members.

When my children were little we subscribed to an organisation which raised money for children in poor countries. We were allocated to a family, I think in India, with a child the same age as my son. I wanted my children to know that not all children were as lucky as they were. We enjoyed getting the monthly letters from the child, written with the help of a worker with the family. The agency’s policy was use part of our donation to help the rest of the village to reduce any jealousy there may have been. In this case I think they set up a silk worm farm to provide an income for all the villagers.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could set up something similar to connect older people across the world, including sharing our stories and hopes and dreams for our families. It would be good if the small start in Africa mentioned above could spread to more countries. The trouble is that doing something like that has more appeal if children are involved, with their futures ahead of them.

The incentive would have to come from us but where could we start? If we could manage it we would really prove our worth and finally put all the negative comments about us to rest. I don’t think it has been done before apart from the small group mentioned above. It wouldn’t just be donations but the very important personal contact between us too. We would probably need help from one of the charity’s to start with but there is no reason why we shouldn’t run it ourselves after the initial start. Any suggestions?

As I get older I realise that changes in society are continuously happening although slowly. It’s quite fun to try to work out which direction we are heading in. Is the so-called democracy of developed nations going to be a model for every country, or will it be modified first (hopefully ironing out current problems) or will a completely different model emerge?
Last week I had coffee with a friend of nearly 40 years. She has moved interstate so I don’t see her very often. We met when our children were very little and now our grandchildren are at the same stage. In the early days women were struggling with the question of work/career versus motherhood. Most of us chose motherhood particularly as childcare was much less well developed that it is today. I laugh when I hear complaints about the high cost of it to the nation! We mothers did all that for free and it was taken for granted. That was still regarded as our role and the financial contribution we made to the economy through what we did was rarely considered. One of the advantages of not having well organised child care then (what was available wasn’t usually of a good standard) meant that we organised our own child care amongst ourselves. The huge advantage of this was that long lasting friendships were formed which become even more precious as we get older. Our friends became substitute aunts.
What about the other half of this situation- the fathers? They largely missed out, or only had limited opportunity to be involved with their children. Many of them today are finding out that it is as much a precious experience for men as it is for women.
The traditional roles of men as the breadwinners, their only roles, are now giving way to partnerships in which the tasks in the home need to be shared equally, particularly if the mother is employed full time. I don’t know if anyone enjoys housework but most of us find it merely a chore. Men are apparently finding that too and still seem to be trying to avoid it if the statistics are accurate.
This role change is part of the history we older people are witnessing in our lives. As we live longer our own roles are changing as we have more years to enjoy the next generation. I barely knew my grandparents yet my grandchildren spent quite a bit of time with all of theirs. Before long great grandparents will also be a part of everyday life for young children. Maybe this will give them also an understanding that history isn’t just something from the past but it is constantly being created as society changes. How long into the future will it be before great, great grandparents are also a part of young children’s lives and how will this affect society and the values passed on to succeeding generations?