We pause today from our usual Sunday activities and pay attention to the grandparents who have been arguably essential in healthy, if positive, parent-child relationships in the social and emotional development of children.
We don’t even have to look back—and underhandedly be grateful—to 40 years ago when US President Jimmy Carter first declared Grandparents Day a national holiday in 1978, a declaration taken advantage of by commercial establishments and advertising firms for the possible wads and investments gained.
Beyond the alphabet, this jump on the bandwagon mentality has erased the meaning, the substance, of the role of grandparents in what we call the family as a basic social institution.
Grandparents—whether they are called lolo or lola, apoy, tatay (accent on the second syllable) or nanay, apong lakay or apong baket, grandpop or grandmomma, lilo or lila—can verily be the wellspring of happiness and wellbeing of the entire family, something that is not always acknowledged.
Some believe an expensive dinner or lunch at a posh restaurant on Grandparents Day would raise the gimmick.
But before and after the recognizable burp today, many slide back to forgetting what impact grandparents have in the family circle, given the Filipino culture of a nuclear family.
Some, with the irruption of technology which has made many very impersonal, have thrown into the blotted out zone the impact grandparents have on their grandchildren: a sense of emotional intimacy, unwavering support, and an experience about the face of a true and positive relationship.
Today, as it must be on other days of the common and the leap years, children and grandchildren must recognize that grandparents have an enriching wealth of experience, which makes them a good link to a child’s cultural heritage and family history.
They also provide an extra layer of support, which can make a major difference in a child’s formative years and in years beyond.
Experts have said, and we are persuaded to agree, that grandparent-grandchild bonds during the teenage years are associated with less behavioral and emotional difficulties as well as social problems with peers.
There are also instances when grandparents have an extra and soft shell tympanum when grandchildren need someone to talk with, the latter finding in grandparents a toll-free expressway to open up and share with them difficult moments.
Given the culture in pre- and post-millennium rollover, where both parents in many families are employed by firms that demand their physical presence outside the home, an often frame is that of forbearing grandparents rising to their role in raising today’s leaders of tomorrow.
One study has suggested that roughly 2.7 million grandparents provide for the basic needs of a grandchild, with more going into the extra zone to take care of their grandchildren for nights on end while the parents are away.
Grandparents, given their legends as emotional pillars, are definitely better—although not every grandparent may be gung-ho about this role—than paid househelp or babysitters, with the parents feeling a great sense of comfort, aware their children are left in the hands of doubtlessly capable and caring hands.
Today, as in the other days of the Gregorian calendar, we doff our hats to grandparents who do not compete with their children to be virtual parents, grandparents who know their role in raising a happy and emotionally stable family, not only for the clan, not only for the community, but for their country.