Last week, last Sunday to be exact was an important day. It wasn’t ushered in with greeting cards last August like Halloween or heralded on television, but nevertheless it was mentioned quietly on Twitter and then left the building.
What exactly was Sunday, September 13, 2015? It was Grandparents Day, usually the first Sunday after Labor Day. Google tells me that” it’s a day for young and old to honor each other and an opportunity for civic engagement for all generations.”
Its purpose is three-fold:
• To honor grandparents.
• To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children‘s children.
• To help children become aware of strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
Grandparents Are Great Because…
But more importantly, grandparents can provide unconditional love to their grandkids. They won’t badger you to practice piano, won’t get upset if you get a C+, instead of an A, on an American History exam and won’t ask you daily “you’re going to wear that to school?”
Extended family is so essential for an understanding of yourself but it’s especially valuable for grandchildren who may feel insecure like LGBT kids. Research shows that LGBT kids are harassed at school with school personnel doing precious little to protect them.
While their straight parents do the best they can to soften the blow of bullying, they themselves may be fearful for their children getting hurt physically and emotionally. Bullying is now 24/7 thanks to social media and does invade one’s home. If the child has a job, he/she could be fired for being gay on a whim in many states.
As the result of society’s homophobia, the grandchild could have low self-esteem and higher rate of substance abuse than his heterosexual peers. He/she could use an extra hug, note, Skype from Grandma and Grandpa.
Not only do grandparents provide unwavering support for grandkids, but they can be an enormous help to the straight parent also who may feel overwhelmed trying to deal with the issues raising a gay child. With no role models of families with gay kids, it is easy for the parent to become insecure in his parenting skills.
By providing a non-judgmental ear as well as shouldering some of the responsibility for raising the child, grandparents can be invaluable. They can be a parent’s and a child’s best cheerleader!
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.