children will be giving special greetings to their grandmothers
next Sunday. No, not for Grandparent's Day.
For Mother's Day.
More than 1.5 million children
wake up each morning to see grandma, not mom, getting them ready
for school or in the kitchen making their breakfast. Who
does their laundry or helps them with their homework or tucks
them into bed at night? Grandma.
The number of grandmothers acting
as replacement mothers for children swell when one considers
temporary care giving situations. Studies suggest that 10
percent of all grandparents in the nation have, at one time or
another, become the
primary caregivers for a grandchild.
But many grandmothers become
substitute moms for these kids on a long term basis.
Grandma often steps in when the child's parents become addicted
to alcohol or drugs, wind up in jail, die, contract a
dehabilitating illness, or simply walk away from their
Consider the situation of Marion
Prigmore, 76, of Tennessee. She and her husband took in
three grandchildren 10 years ago when her daughter got hooked on
Prigmore, whose husband died last
year, is now raising her grandchildren alone. One of the
things that gives her strength is a grandparent support group
which she attends monthly.
Before she started going to the
support group, Prigmore thought she was the only one serving a
dual role as mother and grandmother to her grandchildren.
Members of the support group are "just like a big family now,"
she told the Tennessean newspaper.
Social support can be a great
help, but many grandparents need financial assistance in order
to properly raise these children.
State Senator Leah Landrum-Taylor
introduced a bill into the Arizona Legislature earlier this year
to provide a modest amount of state aid to grandparents raising
grandkids. The bill was moving along nicely until it
"shamelessly was killed by Senator Bob Burns" who chairs the
Appropriations Committee, according to an editorial in the
Arizona Daily Star.
Landrum-Taylor responded by
sponsoring a "Grand Rally" at the Arizona state Capitol attended
by hundreds of grandparents and their supporters.
Grandparents providing primary
care for a grandchild are "a life saver for the child and a cost
saver for the state," Landrum-Taylor told the Arizona Republic.
While grandparents in Arizona are
pushing the Legislature to allocate money to help them in their
caregiver roles, those in Ohio are discovering that allocation
is only the first of many battles to be fought.
Last September, the Cleveland
Plain Dealer reported that even though the Ohio Legislature had
set aide $10 million for grandparents and other relatives caring
for children, the state had only spend about $600,000 of that
"I go to four food lines a month
to feed my grandchildren," Loretta Hunter told a recent forum
attended by two prominent Ohio lawmakers. "I shouldn't
have to do that."
So information and referral
services are in great demand. One such group,
Grandma-KARES, is run by Louise Eagle in New Jersey.
When grandmothers call her, she
refers them to the Kinship Navigator Program at the New Jersey
Department of Human Services. The program provides
services and cash grants to grandparents who qualify.
"I'm raising grandchildren,"
Eagle told the Courier Post newspaper. "At one time I had seven;
now I have one. When I started taking care of my grandchildren,
I didn't even know there were services for me. That's why I
started Grandma-KARES, to get the word out."
AARP is also getting the word out
in a big way through its National Grandparent Information
Part of its website -- "Help
for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren" -- includes
resources and referrals dealing with legal issues, available
public benefits, and housing issues which may arise when
grandchildren move in.
I imagine that Mother's Day must
have some bittersweet qualities for those living in a "skipped
It's a sad day because the birth
mom is not around. But it's a happy day for those kids who
are lucky enough to have a wonderful woman in their lives to
serve them both as a grandmother and a mother.
In any event, it must be
gratifying to a woman when a child runs up to her, hugs her, and
says "Happy Mother's Day, Grandma."
Unmarried America 2007
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
email@example.com. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and