To grandparents everywhere: thank you!

By Becci Robbins
SC Alliance for Retired Americans field organizer

When I left home, I was the last of three girls to fly the coop. But my mother needn’t have worried about suffering an empty nest. Before long, my sister was back home — without her husband, but with a baby. My mother helped co-parent until my sister remarried several years later.

The family arrangement was nothing unique. In fact, these days, with so many parents underemployed or jobless, it’s becoming increasingly common.

Fortunately for my family, my sister and mother had good jobs to provide the baby with a safe, stable home. Others, of course, are not so lucky. Without help, their circumstance would risk going from tenuous to tragic.

In South Carolina, Social Security is the most important source of income for the 112,000 children living in homes headed by a grandparent or other relative. Nationwide, 3.4 million children live in households in which at least one relative receives benefits.

When I hear politicians talk about raising the retirement age or cutting Social Security, I think of these families — families just like mine but without access to good jobs. I think about children just like my niece, only more vulnerable. And I worry about political leaders with so little regard for them.

Today is Grandparents Day. While we celebrate our family elders, let’s remember to honor those who are filling the gaps left by absent, abusive or deceased parents. Their sacrifices are heroic, and we all benefit from the stabilizing influence they bring to families and communities.

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