In 2006, the first members of the baby boom generation, the wealthiest and best educated age cohort the world has ever known, began turning 60. National Grandparent’s Day is a time to celebrate the ways in which grandparents can share their love, support, and wisdom across the generations. This is very much needed in our society when there is very little written on the subject of grandparenting. Many of these individuals, who have sought to maintain their independence and autonomy, now find themselves during hard economic times forced to re-evaluate their plans for the future or take in their financially strapped adult children and their kids. Other seniors are only intermittently involved in the intrafamily net. In this case, the losers are the young and the very old.
In Grandparents/Grandchildren: The Vital Connection, Arthur Kornhaber and Kenneth Woodward outline some important roles grandparents can play in the lives of their grandchildren such as:
1. Historian — Accenting family traditions and heritages
2. Mentor — Sharing wisdom accumulated through years of experience
3. Role Model — Preparing children for what it is like to be old and a grandparent
4. Wizard — Passing on a sense of wonder and the value of imagination
5. Nurturer — Helping to expand the grandchild’s life support system
This vital connection between children and their grandparents is immediate and gratifying to both parties. Elders all need to be needed and kids deserve more unconditional love: it is a wonderful trade-off.
Here are a few of our favorite films about the close bond that can exist between kids and their grandparents:
- Avalon — This movie presents the changes and challenges one immigrant family undergoes over a 50-year period. The patriarch of the clan is a great storyteller who deeply enriches the life of one of his grandsons.
- Rocket Gibraltar — The head of this large family is a 72-year-old poet and philosopher whose relatives have all showed up to celebrate his birthday. While his children ignore his impending death, his grandchildren provide him with the best gift possible — the means to fulfill his wish to be buried at sea in the Viking tradition.
- Roommates — In this family drama, a 72-year-old baker takes in his grandson when the boy’s widowed mother dies. It conveys a treasure trove of information about grandparenting and how important this vital connection can be over the years.
- The Secret of Roan Inish — Ten-year old Roan Inish is sent to live with her grandparents who reside on the Irish coast. It is from them that she learns about the island they had to abandon years ago. This delicate and parabolic story speaks volumes about the spiritual longing for home and the deep meanings that can be conveyed by family stories.
- The Wizard of Loneliness — Here is a beautifully realized screen interpretation of John Nichols’s novel about a 12-year-old boy’s experience on the home front during World War II. His grandfather, a doctor, is especially helpful in making him feel special.
- Vitus — This enchanting Swiss movie is about a musical prodigy and his loving grandfather who nurtures his dream and gives him the space to be himself.
- Whale Rider — An enchanting and ultimately enthralling New Zealand movie about the struggle of one ardent and determined young Maori girl to fulfill her destiny. She is supported and encouraged by her grandmother and has a difficult time with her grandfather who espouses the tribe’s patriarchal value system. This struggle makes her quest even more impressive.
Rituals & Ceremonies
Thomas Simons presents blessings that can be used in both formal and informal situations. Here is a gratitude ritual for Grandparent’s Day.