Mon | Jun 24, 2019

Garth Rattray | Grandmas deserve a day, too

Published:Monday | May 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM

The ideal family unit comprises a father and a mother. The father should provide financial security, physical safety, a strong male figure, and the mother could assist financially but would provide the nurturing aspect for the children.

I realise that, in these modern times, even when men are playing their fatherly roles, mothers are usually forced to work outside the home in order to contribute financially.

The really sad thing is that, from all indications, many men are not facing up to their essential roles in the family. Try as they might, mothers cannot fulfil the male role, which has many negative implications for our society.

What is even more disturbing is that there are a number of mothers who, in spite of their best efforts, simply cannot manage and need help from their mother, the children's grandmother. And, there is a minority of mothers who literally abandon their children into the care of their mother in order to pursue romantic escapades or enter into new relationships with men who do not want any 'baggage' hanging around.

Many of these men do not intend to support the child or children from another relationship, so grandmothers are saddled with the perceived 'baggage'. These grandmothers must provide financial support, discipline and nurturing for their children's children. I have many patients who were raised by their grannies and I also have a significant number of patients who are raising the children of their daughters and sons.

These grannies, are no longer young women, and many of them are not earning from well-paying jobs. Quite a few are retired, so funds are low. They are not capable of running behind their very active grandkids and cannot keep track of all of them. Their homes are veritable nurseries supported by their meagre income.

In spite of many serious challenges, these grannies face up to their responsibilities with impressive courage and resolve. I dare say that many receive little support from their children and nothing from the fathers of those children. The stress would overwhelm the average human being but, spurred on by their motherly instincts, they persevere and take their little charges from neonates to full-grown adults.


Backbone of society


In a severely dysfunctional society such as ours, where most fathers abdicate their responsibilities and too many moms pass the job of raising their own children to their ageing mothers, we really should give the grandmothers their due respect and kudos.

These brave and sacrificial grandmothers form the backbone of our society. They are the ones who end up raising an indeterminate number of our nation's children.

The positive side is that someone is trying to provide a home, food, clothes and an education for many children. On the negative side, some of these grandmothers can't even provide for themselves, yet they are thrust into the extremely demanding and difficult role of parenting at a time when it's much tougher for them. I have yet to see or even hear of grandfathers taking on the role of parenting their grandchildren.

We all have fond memories of our grandparents. They are a special breed of people who have mellowed with time and possess a wealth of experience to draw on. A survey would likely reveal that more people than we can imagine were in fact raised by grandmothers. They are the silent and unsung heroes within our society.

I noticed that there is a National Grandparent's Day (in the USA), which is observed on Sunday, September 9, this year. For all that they have done and continue doing for the children and, by extension, for the future of our country, we ought to commemorate an annual Grandmother's Day, too.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice.

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