Hello Papa

By Ron Tatro, Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan

Recently, my wife and I received a call from our 14-year-old granddaughter. As I answered the phone, I was greeted with “Hello Papa.” She was calling Grandma and Papa to say thank you for her recent birthday gifts. Over the next few minutes, we talked about her volleyball tournament, piano recitals, travel plans, and school. She ended the call with “I love you.” She lives in another state, so we see her infrequently and greatly value our “time” with her.

In the United States, Grandparents Day will be celebrated on Sunday, September 8. The article Is National Grandparents Day a Public Holiday? provides a brief background of Grandparents Day. Lobbying to create this day in honor of grandparents began in the 1970s. In 1978 President Carter signed legislation creating the day. In 1979 a presidential proclamation was signed making the first Sunday in September as the official day.

The combination of Grandparents Day and the call from our granddaughter got me thinking about the role of grandparents in the twenty-first century.

Today, many grandparents across all societies are stepping in to raise their grandchildren. The opioid crises, economic downturns, missing parents, and the need for a safe environment have led grandparents to become the stability in their grandchildren’s lives. They provide food, shelter, and access to education while providing a safe and loving home for these vulnerable young bodies and minds.

Grandparents serve as a moral compass in their grandchildren’s lives. They model traits such as hard work, ethics, stability, and compassion; traits that are many times lacking in their grandchildren’s lives. They help children develop those skill sets they will need to navigate life.  

Grandparents come in many different forms. Some are biological, some through marriage, some through blended relationships, and some through friendship. Our granddaughter, throughout her life, has had five sets of “grandparents”. She has learned something different from each set, combining all that love into one great young lady.

Today there are many tools to create connections. Social media such as Facebook, Skype, and FaceTime all help connect people. However, the best interaction can come from an old-fashioned visit and a hug.

So, carve out some one-on-one time with that very special child in your life. They are watching your every move. Teach them love and patience and give them permission to fail. We can help them become well-balanced, productive adults. And think of the memories they will share with their children about “when I was your age, my Grandma and Papa …”

Ron Tatro is the Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since January 2007. As Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan, Ron provides support services and executive direction to all aspects of Elder Law of Michigan’s programs