45. Grandparents of Gay Son: Family and “Coming Out” Issues

 LB, New York: “My son and his partner, Jim, have two beautiful children, now ages 3 and 5. We want to include Jim’s growing family more in our lives, but I’m afraid of our friends’ reactions to two gay men raising children. And I don’t know how to deal with questions that may come up about the “parentage” of the children. We are proud to be their grandparents, but can’t really say how or whether we are biologically their grandparents. My son and his partner prefer not to explain the specifics of the children’s conception.”

Thank you for your message desiring to include your son’s family into your lives. Being involved grandparents can bring so much joy and richness. I wish you well in this chapter of your lives. I would say:

 1. Supporting one’s children in raising their own children is so important. As gay or lesbian parents discover, they find they are “coming out” increasingly with each new day, accompanied by their children, as they meet new people, become involved with school personnel, health care providers, other parents, and others who interact with them. Even in 2014 they can be confronted with criticism, rude comments, personal questions, that can become very uncomfortable and alienating. (And any couple raising children have differences or issues that they must deal with as the children grow—creating both challenge and opportunity to grow together. Every family needs a support system. In my opinion, “nuclear family” can be isolating and thus bad for children growing up. )

2. As parents of a gay son, you may have experienced some “coming out” yourselves and know how negative some people can be. While “coming out” may not always be comfortable, these experiences are opportunities to affirm how much we care for our children and declare one’s independence of what others think. Do we really need friends who are rejecting or critical of ourselves or our children? I personally, as a lesbian, a parent, and a grandparent, cherish all our family members, whether “biological” or “non-biological.” We, as gay people, discovered long ago that we need to create our own families and support systems, and biology becomes secondary to the meaning of family.

3. I would respect your son’s desire not to discuss the specifics of his children’s conception. I applaud you for your willingness to get beyond your comfort zone with friends in order to continue to be more a part of your son’s family and wish you the best.

Resource: www.pflag.org (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, with chapters throughout the U.S.): “Our Mission. PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. – See more at: http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=237#sthash.FWiKjVnv.dpuf “

44. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

T.M., NY, writes: “My grandson, age 8, is disrespectful to his mother, my daughter. I don’t understand it, as she is patient with him. She tries to follow the Golden Rule—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He often announces that he doesn’t want to do what she has asked him to do, and he is rude Continue reading

43. A Grandmother’s Three Wishes: Education, Jobs, Savings

As Mother’s Day approaches, I celebrate the mothers among my family and my friends. I especially celebrate my daughters (by birth and by good fortune) who have been truly loving and supportive mothers to their children. I wish them well in their many roles and endeavors. It is with a sense of foreboding, however, that I think of my grandchildren’s generation: Scarce Continue reading

42. Memories: Making Sense of All These Years of Living and Passing On a Legacy to My Grandchildren

10003113_10152340093435460_650990473_nLately I’ve been thinking about the flood of memories that come at unexpected moments when you get to be an “older,” “elder,” or “senior.” Maybe it was the first anniversary of my father’s death at 102 this March, or maybe a function of all the years and experiences “under the belt” (along with all those desserts)!

The many chapters of my life don’t appear to have much to do with each other, each stage so different in setting, in experience. But in reality, each stage Continue reading

41. Money and Grandchildren

S.D. writes: “I’m concerned about my grandchildrens’ futures, with education so expensive and jobs so scarce. What can I do to help them see the importance of getting a good education, good work, and saving for retirement. I don’t want them to be in the position we are as we face retirement without Continue reading

40. A Valentine’s Wish

1625580_10201578542641399_1596416696_nIt seems that today’s children have no inhibitions about expressing what they don’t like and what they do want–a very different experience of self expression than that of prior generations. I have been somewhat puzzled and amazed by the way my generation–at least most everyone I’ve known–would not have dreamed of discussing our feelings with the adults around us, especially those feelings toward family members–and even our worries or goals for the future. I marvel at how strong the prohibition against this aspect of life was in the 40s, 50s.

However, Continue reading

39. Reinvention: Often A Necessity for 50+ Folks

Grandparents: Stuck in a rut? Facing a financial crisis? Not sure how to find new value, meaningful activity, in life?

I was inspired by an interview with Jane Pauley this morning (Morning Joe, MSNBC), on the occasion of her new book* on reinventing oneself through the years. Her 2013 resolution was to “say “yes” more often (and “no” less often); her 2014 resolution was to “say “yes” to new things.” Continue reading

38. My Wish: A Happy, Healthy New Year to All!

Happy New Year, Grandparents! Have you made some New Year’s resolutions? Or have you given up attempting to succeed–from past experience with resolution-making?  Don’t give up! It’s a New Year, with new possibilities! Continue reading

37. Happy Holidays, Grandparents!

1497643_10203006824717103_1943373048_nWhen you can’t purchase lots of gifts or spend a lot of time volunteering, you can find other ways, maybe smaller-in-size, but just as (or more than), meaningful to your family, friends, and even strangers! We need to remind ourselves that our caring for others does not need to be measured in dollars and cents! I’m working this list! (from Cate Cooper, courtesy of my wise and generous daughter, Amy, who re-posted this on Facebook)

36. Grandpa too strict? But what to do?

Children who are “allowed” to sass, hit, disrespect the adult, do not feel good about it and end up not feeling good about themselves.

LB, TX, writes: My husband and I do not agree about how to discipline our grandson, age 8, when he spends the weekends, while our daughter, a single parent, is working. My husband thinks our grandson should be punished and Continue reading

35. “Fifteen per cent of US young people out of school, work.*”

“Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working,” according to The Opportunity Nation coalition report (10/21/13). This is not a surprise to the many grandparents and parents concerned about their young people’s futures these days! For a grandparent or parent with a young adult at home and not at school or work, this is a scary thing Continue reading

34. Granddaughter reports she has low self-esteem

My granddaughter, age 13, announced that she has low self esteem, and my daughter asked me to provide activities that will help address this issue when she stays with us. It makes sense, in that she’s not doing as well as she probably could be doing in school, but I know she doesn’t lack in ability Continue reading

33. Advice to newly-married grandchild: Benefits of cooking together

KL: My grandson and his new wife are struggling. They both have college degrees but haven’t found work. I’m no expert on that, but I’d like to be able to suggest some ideas that might help them with some of the other issues that life presents. For example, they don’t cook for themselves and choose Continue reading