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MARCH 5, 2009 6:30PM

Selfish grannies!

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If the New York Times is looking to cut costs, maybe it's time to cut back on its lifestyle coverage. It's increasingly unreadable, and recently two style stories struck me as hoaxes.  One was definitely a hoax, about the non-existent "Dating a Banker Anonymous" group, supposedly established for women having to cut back because their banker boyfriends are less flush or out of work. Last week the Times had to apologize for falling for that spoof. Today, Thursday Styles struck again, with a new faux-trend story: "When Grandma can't be bothered," about grandmothers who won't take care of their grandchildren.

Based on the real-life testimony of exactly ONE grandmother who admits she won't babysit for her grandkids, Judy Connors (who must love being the face of the New Selfish Granny!) the article is sourced to psychologists, a Web site product manager and some complaining moms, mainly complaining about their mothers-in-law.

Even though the New York Times only identified ONE woman who doesn't care to care for her grandkids, we learn that this "trend" has a name -- "so-called 'glam-mas'," says the Times, though the writer doesn't even bother to tell us who uses this so-called term.

I don't want to be a trend story based on anecdotes, myself, but in my entire life, I have literally never met ONE, not ONE, grandmother -- or grandfather, for that matter, but as in the world of Styles, the bad behavior of women is usually under the microscope -- who didn't want to care for their grandkids if they were able.

Geography, health and other family issues may interfere; sometimes mom or dad isn't totally happy with the "care" grandparents may provide, but this has never been a topic I've ever heard anyone complain about. My own mother-in-law was astonishingly involved in caring for my daughter from the day she was born and I miss her every day.

But once again, women are misbehaving, and they must be called out by the Times. It reminds me of Lisa Belkin's "opt-out revolution" that wasn't. I clicked on the link to Urban Baby, the Web site that's the Times's main source for the selfish granny trend, and the lead item was this blog comment:

"I feel so emotionally ragged. DH transfers money to an account for me each month for expenses- last month he missed the date to transfer and my nanny's check bounced...I just feel horrible about this, I'm SAHM right now but can't wait to go back to work so I don't feel so dependent and powerless."

I wonder how the nanny felt. Where's her Web site?

Especially with the economy tanking, the Times needs to stop being the house organ of whiny privileged people, or it will skid to oblivion even faster than it already is.

UPDATE: I corrected this about a minute after posting: I'd wrongly said DABA story ran in Thursday Styles; it was an NY Region story. Also: I can't resist adding Leeandra Nolting's great point: "Guess who's the No. 1 caretaker of children whose biological parents are in prison or who have had their parental rights revoked? It's the maternal grandmother!" Of course, if you flip the economic pyramid, grandmothers are involved in their grandkids' lives like never before!

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See, yes, this lack of focus on some semblance of more than the privileged is problematic. I think it will be awhile before everyone gets with the "holy crap this might be a depression' program.

Good post.

I think what we're reading is DENIAL. And that can be extraordinarily aggravating to those of us who were never in denial about the economy.
Oh? I walked into a broom & mop closet,
and saw the stinkers on a GOP toilet seat.
I'm sick of phony politics. So Sick & Tired!
Wimp. Wimpy. Weasels. Wimpy. Wastrel.
Um, yeah. Because there isn't a huge number of grandmas actually RAISING their grandchildren. (Guess who's the No. 1 caretaker of children whose biological parents are in prison or who have had their parental rights revoked? It's the maternal grandmother!)

And I thought that the argument between daughters and their mothers re: the grandbabies was that the grandma spoiled the grandchildren rotten and kept butting into things that were none of her business.

Really, though, the woman profiled in the story already raised her children. Her daughter is not suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. The kids are well taken-care of. Why, exactly, should she be involved in every step of her grandkids' lives, shuttling them to and from various lessons?
Leeandra, what a great point. I should have included it. If you invert the economic pyramid, of course, that's the real story: Grandparents raising grandkids.

For anyone who read this early, I just made a quick correction, the DABA piece didn't run in Thursday styles!
It's so hard to do satire when so many people are doing it unintentionally.

I miss the days when reporters were ashamed to get things wrong.
My sister-in-law's mom NEVER would babysit. If she did agree to watch the kids for an hour or two, it was always on a quid-pro-quo arrangement that left my sister-in-law with an obligation to fulfill---usually a task far in excess of the benefit gained.

And we are talking about a 1960's/70's/80's Italian, stay-at-home grandma. In fact, when I read the phrase Glam-ma this morning, I thought of Violet.
Joan, interest commentary on The New York Times; especially "the Times needs to stop being the house organ of whiny privileged people" - Isn't that their main constituents. Not many line workers or double shifters in the mid-country are reading it.

But I agree their paper is not what it use to be. Their motto - "All the News That's Fit to Print." - has definitely re-defined the meaning of FIT.

I think the larger point may be that parts of our society seem to have lost the progression of the generations, in which a mother first has her own life, then spends time raising her children so that they have theirs and are ready to commit themselves to the raising of their own children. That way everyone gets their turn, and everyone is cared for.
Our Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs in Louisiana has a program just for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Their website ( lists the following statistics:

* 6.3% of children under 18 in the U.S. live in grandparent headed households

*9.7% of all children in Louisiana live with grandparents

* Louisiana has the fourth highest percent of children living with grandparents in the U.S.

* There are 6,335 grandparents responsible for meeting the basic needs of grandchildren in Baton Rouge

I know how important grandparents are. When I was first adopted at the age of 3 months, my mother had a hysterectomy and a mastectomy. My grandmother, a clerk in a clothing store in Portland, took months off to care for me. Our son and his girlfriend had an unexpected baby about 2 years ago. To help them through college and graduate school, my husband and I helped them financially and also by using our vacation time to take care of our grandson one day each a week for a semester.

No one has to take care of their grandchildren. However, I'm not sure where we'd be without so many that do.

Great point Joan - why would the NYT base a trend on a single example? Where are the thoughtful, careful editors? And why the attachment to pithy names: Glam-mas, cougars, the Octo Mom. Sounds more like a comic book. Glad you called it out; too often I skim the news without thinking. Rated. Also, regarding last post: if you change hats, choose something equally fabulous. It's a fun detail that really sets you apart.
I read the Times most mornings. Financial troubles are no reason for pomposity. Maybe they should do a story on my sister who's 2 middle-aged sons' relationships --1 married, 1 not, but active -- have produced no children. My Sis is longing to be a grandmother. Until that happens (though she doubts it will ) she along with my brother-in-law happily care for their 3 Yorkies.
I have literally never met ONE, not ONE, grandmother -- or grandfather, for that matter . . .who didn't want to care for their grandkids if they were able.

Joan. Now you have.
Geeze as an actual grandmother this really pisses me off.

Most of the mileage on our car is from trips to see or take our grandson to and from our house, which is a drive completely through the entire state of Washington and requires hotel stays on each trip. Last year our grandson was at our house for around 7-8 weeks. The cumulative cost of those visits I will not account, because who would?

I am a step-grandmother, technically. When they decided they would take time off to spend with him on Spring break, my step daughter actually sent me a note posted on the wall of my Facebook page and said "our services wouldn't be required". I tore her a new one on that. But then, I have been using computers for over thirty years and she got one two years ago. I don't think she has taken in all the netiquette, and she apologized.

My husband is now retired. We are not exactly rolling in money. When we do what we do for our grandchildren, we do it with as much love and generosity as we can, just as most do.

What total crap!
I'm a grandmother who would do anything at a moment's notice for my granddaughters, and have. I've never said "no" to staying with them or changing plans, short of something I am totally responsible for in the outside world.

I would say that nine out of ten of my friends are the same. We realize the blessing and privilege of this relationship, unlike any other. But yes, there are exceptions. And we talk about these women and men, and don't get it. There are some spoiled grandparents just as there are spoiled, privileged moms and dads. And they are missing one of life's greatest joys in the name of "independence" or "leisure" or whatever else they want to call it.
Hey! How did you get an editor's pick so easy? Do you know someone on the inside, or what? I kid, of course. Makes you wonder why they can't find better subject matter over there. If they would have posted that story on OS they would have been laughed out of the building. The nanny's check bounced and she's all beside herself. We poor people have to keep and eye on our bank balances. Watching every penny I might add. We wash our own cars, mow our own lawns, walk our own dogs and raise our own kids. Grandma is a huge influence on the kids and an intergral part of the equation, jumping in at any opportunity to help. How out of touch can a "news"paper get?
Unfortunately, my own mother never took care of her grandkids for a single day, and that was starting back in the 1970s. Most women will want to, some won't, regardless of the era. There's no trend there, hard as the NYT might try to make, er, find one.
My sense--and I don't routinely read the NY Times, so what do I know--is that they feel the need to cater to conservative values in order to compete. I think their brand requires them to be a liberal leader and not a conservative follower. Their stock sank pretty low with me over their Iraq war coverage and what I perceive as the continuing conservatization of their columnists. This is the wrong direction, and the stories you cite is just more evidence of decline.
It's a trend because they say it is a trend, don't you know. They cross the line into irrelevance and drag the serious writers and editors with them.
OK, I admit I do have a relative in my family who moved to another state specifically so she wouldn't have to help care for her grand kids. She felt that she had taken a great deal of her time to raise her own 4 kids and stepchild and was ready to start living her own life.

I don't agree with her decision but will state that it's hers to make. I should also note that none of her children were planned (she belonged to the "children are inevitable" generation in spite of the fact that some birth control had been around) and is still usually on the outs with one or more of her three surviving children.

Of course, I do have to question why she is always considered the guilty party when her husband was just as eager to move away. Is child rearing still the sole responsibility of the female while the male is given carte blanche to do as he pleases?

Even with my example and the one in the Times, it seems as though they are more interested in pseudo news trends than in actual investigative reporting.
There was nothing "glam" about my son's step-grandmother, but she also refused to babsit for my son, as did my dad. It happens.
Joan: I have never known a grandparent that did not go out of their way to love and help with the grandkids. Maybe we live in a different world out here in northern Appalachia but folks don't have many alternatives and if both parents have to work, there is really no choice but to hit on the grandparents to care for the kids. Most do it willingly and I hear very little complaining.

Frankly if granny doesn't want to watch the grandkids I don't think she has to defend herself. There seems to be an assumption that if there are glammies out there they are somehow bad. I hope that after all that mothers give up for their kids that Grandma is out getting some good loving or otherwise having a good time. If she has time and the desire to babysit great if not that's okay too. Viva la Granny!
There was a time when the NY Times was King. It was a daily must read, tossed on the porch of every Manhattanite, Long Islander and Connecticut bedroom community. It was available in every major hotel chain, passed out to first class passengers on international flights, discussed around every water cooler and the expected side order with every first cup of coffee which began the day.

After moving back to California from NY, I continued to subscribe to the NYT's for about one year, after which it lost it's gloss and relevance to a completely different life style, political climate and the daily grind of a single mom. It was out of touch with the west coast vibe and therefore, dispensable.

Secondly, a classy publication, utilizing current resources and the good manners to back up any article put into print, would never attempt to discredit the instutution of grand parenthood. Big mistake. Goes without saying, from the beginning of time, grand parents have played a vital role in the aid of child rearing, a connection to the past, to family traditions and adding an extra layer of love and security that is a blessing, both to the children and parents and to the grandparents.

One of the best perks of being a parent is the propect of one day being an involved, needed grand parent. The pay back is priceless. The time spent with your grand babies is precious, rejuvenating and mutually beneficial. It's the best gig I've ever had.
It seems to me the bigger issue here is this: So what if grandmas or even one gramma, for that matter, won't babysit or doesn't want to get that involved with her grandkids?

We live in a culture that is obsessed with children: Should women have them younger or older? How many kids is enough or are too many? Are we being fair to children by keeping them from real-world realities? Do parents hurt their children by working? And of course women somehow always seem to catch the most s*** for this. Add to this the fact that every second or third commercial I see is one with kids eating, sleeping, playing with their laptops/computers, engaged in some sports activity or another -- mostly with their moms in the picture; and that every politician with children has to, just HAS TO include them in their commentary, remarks. I mean, just as an example: WTF is up with Nancy Pelosi that she can't open her mouth anymore without referencing her kids and grandkids. Excuse me, but Yuck!

Are we so guilt-ridden about children/careers/etc., or so neurotic and guilt-ridden because of the Catholic Church's 14th century morality towards motherhood, sex, parenting, that we overcompensate by obsessing about children in our culture, in every way, including the growing problem of sexual predation on them?

I don't have an answer, just observations. But I'm really weary of the ways we and our culture use/misuse children to sell everything in our lives (or as an explanation for it) from personal responsibility, to clothing, to food, to money, to upstanding moral behavior, to sports, to diapers, to "good" grandparenting, to [FILL IN THE BLANK]!

And please, Joan: your column was so filled with guilt - two to three mentions of how YOUR mother/mother-in-law wasn't a "glamma", not seeming to recognize that you'd just bought into the NYT's whole crappy notion about grandma-as-babysitter/caretaker.

Enough with falling all over the place to prove how kid-friendly we are! If grandma doesn't want to babysit, who the hell cares and so what? They're entitled to be and do whatever they damned well please...and more power to them to do it.
I teach senior fitness and while some grandparents can't get enough of the little ones, other grandparents are experiencing all over again the unwelcome exhaustion of running after kids. Because of the lack of affordable childcare, some members of the older generation have to put aside their life-long dreams (traveling with elderhostel; bridge tournaments; taking college courses, etc) to save their (usually) daughters from disaster. It is outrageous to expect gushing maternity from every younger woman let alone a replay from every older one. I thought we already won this argument about the assumption that every woman wanting to devote herself to doting on children - no matter what her age. And let's renew our demands for excellent, accessible childcare provision.
Papers do this a lot lately, the Washington Post being most famous for it. It is called the non trend trend story. Beware, bewared. Which is why we need to be intelligent readers. I alert you to my most recent post. If you don't use your mind, then you're a sucker every time.
Dear Joan,
I have watched two spoofs, both perpetrated by friends, wind up as "news." One was in the NYT, the other in Newsweek.
Whatever happened to the fact checker?
Both instances, and the ones you cite, would have been caught by a fact checker, right?
I'm struck not only by the Times' ill-researched "ain't it awful" puff pieces, but by one of the underlying assumptions: that having reared a child obligates a woman to be involved in rearing her grandchildren as well.

I'd agree that parents have assumed an obligation to their children by having them - they've voluntarily entered into a long term commitment. But if grandparents haven't chosen to have grandchildren, how can they be assumed to have an obligation to them?

If we take the whining judgment out of "selfish granny," we're left with simply "adult with boundaries."
Well in 1985 when I was pregnant with our first child my mom announced to me that she would not be doing any babysitting for us. I just meekly said ok. But when she wanted to spend time with my kids later on in life I never let her take them with her, she had to see my kids at my house in short doses. I don't know if she remembers what she said to me, but I never forgot it.
Well, now i have a new name to call my mom. "Glamma" — she'll probably like that.
The Times in general has increasingly, over the past... 20 years? become a total rag, with shocking, rampant flouting of every professional standard and ethic happening time, and time again, across all sections of the publication, except maybe the sports section, which I've always rather enjoyed, especially since they got tired of Gregg Easterbrook ragging them every fall and stopped the stupid exercise of predicting exact NFL scores....

But yeah, the lifestyle section is horrible, from the yuck piece about the socialite in the yamamoto and jimmys and her (barefoot) surrogate from South Carolina, to the stupid (yet sadly, eminently believable) story about the banker's mistresses, and now this inanity.

In general, it seems that the Punch-mobile has given up all pretense of relating to anyone with under six figures of income. Period.

When Bill Keller was appointed I was impressed by him, but this is just sad.
i would like to second laura's comment. one grandmother who wants to take some time off instead of settling into her socially prescribed role of "free babysitter" does not a trend make.

it bugs me that my mother in law (and my step mother in law) are both totally ready to jump in the that role, and they're not afraid to ask me when that might be EVERY TIME THEY SEE ME. god, what i wouldn't give for selfish in-laws...

incidentally, i run with one of the many packs of raging grannies... an international group of activists. i would love to see a feature on what women of a certain age get up to, that doesn't fixate on child rearing.
My problem with this story is its thinly-veiled accusation of "bad grandma-ing" because of...what, exactly? The fact that the "Glam-ma" doesn't want to move halfway across the country to help her daughter raise HER kids? The fact that she's done her time in the childcare department and is enjoying those aspects of adult life that don't involve diapers, bottles, nap schedules and Sponge Bob?

My theory (based on nothing) is that a lot of the women who "opt out" of super-involved grandmothering had their kids in a time when women didn't really have as many options for careers and other activities that didn't involve being a wife or mom. They had kids not because they were really gung-ho about it, but because that's just what you did after you got married, but if they'd been alive today they may have waited longer to have children, or perhaps not have had children at all. I don't blame those women in the slightest for using their empty nest and retirement years to do all those things they may have wanted to do in their twenties and thirties but didn't get to do because they were too busy raising kids. They've done their time, give them a friggin' break.
In my almost two years of grandmothering, I have discovered on the net that grandmas o get it wrong even more often than mothers do. Either you are a selfish glam-ma who refuses to babysit or an interferring, judgmental busybody. Depending upon how far away your children live, you can be both simultaneously.
Jessabelle, to the extent there may be these grandmothers, I think you're right, they did it, they're enjoying a time in their life when they don't have to. Of course, I haven't met them, but since people even on this thread are telling me they are out there, I believe them.

Mary King, if I wasn't so crazy busy, I'd have blog-loved this to you. I actually looked around Open Salon to see if you had written on this story, since it is so much the kind of thing you would see and rise up against!

Again, everyone: I'm not saying grandmothers (or fathers!) have to take care of their grandkids; I'm saying the vast majority want to, but the bigger point is: The world's best newspaper ought not run trend stories based on one named source, or else they are no longer the world's best newspaper...
Joan, I haven't written about it because I absolutely love the blogger whom they based the article on--Her Bad Mother. To get a clearer view of what she was really saying, read

I highly recommend her blog.
"parental rights revoked"????? can that really happen? OMG, didn't know!
You've come upon the unattactive the world of those extremely entitled folks that the NY Times (a paper I otherwise like) seems to constantly feature in their Style section. I've lived in Manhattan and trust me, there are other kinds of interesting people residing there.
The Style section is more focused on the priviledged, but what do you expect, homeless fashions? "Shanks is wearing two different socks in a bold rejection of tradition, an army jacket and urine stained pants which is off the cart, the place he stores his crusted treasures, when he is not chasing cars or warning about the apocalypse. He's come a long way from his cushy job at Lehman Brothers."
BTW, you should check out Kresskins rebuttal:
Were it not for my mother and father, I would have been hard pressed indeed as the single parent of my children.
I agree with Laura Walker.

It is mind-boggling that women nowadays will try again and again to make other women feel guilty about their decisions. This guilt trip is based on medieval mentalities.

My mother was in a coma when my first child was born and dead by the time I had my second. My first child's paternal grandmother was living in the USSR and my second child's paternal granmother lives in the UK and was 42 when she had her only son... so in no state whatsoever to babysit for us, notwithstanding the distance.

If I managed to raise my own children without the free loving grandma, anyone else can.

When I become a grandmother, I will do as I please, and that may not be the role of the doting grandma, or the part of the free babysitter, but that will not make me a worse human being, contrary to what most people who posted a comment thought, and contrary to what you think.

It is really time for a national conference on child care that does not burden the woman who wants to work, nor the older female generation, on the fallacious pretext that this is what women or grandmas do or should be doing. Yuck!
I disagree. I'm yet another on the losing side of the grandma bargain. I think the point to consider is not if grandmas are not interested but that they have made a different choice - and if staying at home v. salaried-employment mothers should be respected for their choices, then grandmas v. glam-mas should also be respected. Although, personally, I don't care for the latter, I'm just doing my best to accept that it is a choice and one she is free to make - as a woman.
After a lifetime of reading the TIMES, and living in NYC, (though originally from the Midwest) I can agree it isn't "family" friendly. That's not why people necessarily work here, or live here. New Yorkers by and large are here for the career opportunities, and the "anonymity."

When it's time to have families, for those who have the interest at all--it is time to leave. I've seen it again, again, and again. It may seem "anti-feminist" or at least "anti-female" to the outsider, but it's actually a little more than that. This is the town where more of the women have become men, and the men women than any other. That's what makes it the city--and the rest of America the "town."
It's not only the priveledged that opt out. I'm simply middle class and after my parent's divorce, they opted out of parenting, and then granparenting, which is a great loss for the younger generation.

I spent four years with my grandmother, Mimi, after my parent's divorce and am now an expert on family history. She was the last of her line, so she imbued me with every facet of her jeweled past. When a grandparent dies, a library is lost. I am the only grandchild who knows where everyone is buried, literally and figuratively.

I gave my children a sub grandmother who was happy to fill the shoes, and we all had a great time. She died seven year ago and all of us miss her and our annual pilgrammage to her home each summer for swimming, movies, food, and fun. Simple pleasures. She spoiled my children, for which I was grateful.

Those who opt out miss out. Those who opt in share and grow for the time spent. I emplore grandmothers and grandfathers everywhere that the grandchildren need you, your history, your love and your time.

Thanks Mimi and Pat.
This post was so interesting and generated so many comments I just had to chime in, too! I think during these rough economic times where it's always bad news and very serious, it is fun to think about glammies. I love that term! What a great way to break up the monotony of money worries! My own mother would not be considered glamorous and is a wonderful woman, but she has set clear boundaries with my niece's mother to ensure that she did not get used as a babysitter. My mother makes sure to visit quite often with her granddaughter and loves her dearly, but has chosen not to serve as a stand-in when her mother chooses to go out partying.
The NY Times and the Wall Street Journal are two papers that have become Republican caricatures of their former selves. The media is controlled by conservatives and Republicans as we all know, and in a male-dominated society such as ours, and especially with Republican men in charge of the media, women are ALWAYS to blame.....for everything. They're the BIG PROBLEM...always....just as in the 1980s when two incomes became necessary to pay bills, and many children had to be placed in day care, the likes of the late Jerry Falwell branded working women as "selfish, self-indulgent, and failing their children."

It wasn't Republican policies at the time, spending tax dollars to pay for the biggest military build-up in the history of the world during peace time, it wasn't de-regulation that began this deliberate looting of corporations by CEOs while wages did NOT increase for the next 40 years, although prices continued to rise, it wasn't that Reagan changed the laws more than FDR did, it wasn't that interest rates were at 22% and we were in a, it was selfish women who were the problem.

Of course, what's even sadder is that women put up with this bullshit!!!
Damn straight:

"Especially with the economy tanking, the Times needs to stop being the house organ of whiny privileged people."
Aargh, newspapers. I just posted a blog about this, and why newspapers are now dead to me.

You'd think that given their plummeting circulation figures newspapers would realise that we don't want more of these types of stories, and certainly not stories that haven't been vetted by a paid professional. I respect journalists and use to devour at least one paper a day, but print papers have lost my respect...
Some years back, when I was a contributing editor for American Demographics magazine, a NY Times reporter called me for a comment about a "trend" she had uncovered: women were once again taking their husband's names when they got married. Why did she think this was a trend, I asked her. Why, several of her friends had done it! And she'd heard some other women in her circle had noticed it, too.

The Times is also fond of seeing evidence that women are leaving the work force to stay home with the kids. They have twice called me to discuss tenths of a percentage point changes in the labor statistics. (Both times I told them that it was not statistically significant.) A third time I wrote a letter disputing an article that once again said women's labor force participation was declining. They published my letter, at least.
When I was in journalism school - a l-o-n-g time ago, The Times was the example every professor used as perfection in journalism.

The Times has deteriorated to irrelevance. The grandmother "trend" story was an example of how vapid this newspaper is. My mother-in-law lived 250 miles away and would care for our children anytime we needed help.

I have done the same when my grandchildren were young. Today they are all in college and all of us relive, laugh and treasure those times we had together. My grandsons especially enjoy the memories of the slightly relaxed rules when Nana was there.
At 17 years of age, I had my daughter and must admit that due to my own upbringing with a very sick sadistic mother who beat me so much that I was diagnosed with PTSD, and had no idea of how to raise a child. As a result, whenever I got angry with my daughter, I would yell and scream at her and periodically spank her. After ten years of being married to her father, I went to therapy [alone since he said there was nothing wrong with him despite him continually beating me and once so badly that he caused a hematoma that broke and went to my lung during a surgery] for many years and as a result, I finally learned to be a great mom, but too late for my own daughter. After all my daughter went through with me, she turned out to be a wonderful mom. She and a horrible man she married for about 6 months divorced, but had her now 5 year old daughter. And I have become my granddaughter's stable, calm and favorite person and favorite home for her to be [along with my wonderful second husband of 30 years]. She is our little love and has a wonderful time with us every week when we are so fortunate to have her for at least one day of the week, and sometimes more.

I have told my daughter that this is my way of trying to compensate for her terrible life as a youngster as I since learned how to love her and my granddaughter unconditionally. [It took being married to my second husband who is quite a bit younger than myself and many years of therapy to learn that I was worthy as a human being, patience, unconditional love and not to be so uptight about life.]

My reward is such a terrific, loving relationship with my own daughter as well as my granddaughter and the love I am given in return. It was just such a shame to not know how to even label emotions let alone be able to give them or contain them in the proper manner. I am so blessed to have the love of my own daughter as well as my grandchild and to be able to also give this love to them. [Grandpa is also the beneficiary as his little love adores him and my daughter loves him as well.] Thank God for therapy and a most forgiving daughter who allows me to love her and her child.
excellent and thought-provoking piece... a not-so-random thought rose up in my brain as I read it: someday soon, those grandmothers may very well need to be "raised" (read: taken care of) by those children and grandchildren for whom she no longer has the time
Oh, please! I would love more time with my grandson, but it just doesn't work out that way.

I even have friends who treat their nieces and nephews children as if they were their grandchildren.

I also have a friend who has custody of one of her troubled daughter's children and is about to get custody of her newly arrived infant, too. Yeah, what selfish grandparents she and her husband are, trying to raise a "second" family.

I was watching "Persuasion" (again) last night... Remember the scene where Captain Harville and Anne Eliot are discussing whether it's men or women who love longest and are less likely to forget? He claims that all of histories, stories, and poetry are against her... she replies that those are nearly all written by men. He laughs...

So now... we have women writing about women in the same way. Sexism internalized.
I never expected my mother to babysit my children. (My mother-in-law has been dead for many years.)

For me, this isn't so much a story about whether the Times got suckered into another "selfish female" bash (although that could well be, and raspberries at them for doing it.) I wonder about where that presumption--the one that presumes grandparents exist to take up the child-rearing slack in their adult children's lives--comes from?

Yes, it would have been a godsend for mother to step in sometimes, but it wasn't her job and wasn't her problem.
Great post, Joan. I can't stand stories that have nothing to them. What a contrived concept. (Personally, I can't wait to have grandchildren, but I'm not telling my kids about that, given that they're only 18, 15, and 12!)
If not for my grandmother, I'd never have gone to college or had the honor of becoming a teacher. I lived with her from the time I was seven (after my grandfather died) until I left Texas after a year and a half in college and moved to Oklahoma to live with my parents. My grandmother was my sixth grade teacher and although living with her was a lot like being Clara in Great Expectations, she was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. However, I was shocked when a friend of mine refused to take her daughter's unwanted child and the poor toddler's father's parents took her. I'd never known a grandmother turn down an opportunity to rear a child. It just didn't seem natural. But I guess she had her reasons.
I totally agree. I want to see hard statistics because I don't know a single grandmother, whether "glam" or not, who doesn't take care of her grandkids when asked. And most times even when not asked.
"Especially with the economy tanking, the Times needs to stop being the house organ of whiny privileged people, or it will skid to oblivion."

Couldn't agree with you more.

On the other subject, my mom is one of those grannies that doesn't babysit. She doesn't even get to see us much anymore and still never desires a sleepover w/grandkids. She can only take our visits in small doses. She just doesn't seem to like kids. My sister says, when on the subject, we were damned lucky she let us live inside the house when we were growing up. It wasn't really that bad but it was obvious to us even as kids that she didn't like us. I FORCED her to be a part of my oldest son's life when I was a single parent working 45 traffic filled miles from home and needed her to pick him up from daycare. I would come by her house and pick him up after work. She would MAKE us eat there and she complained about being too old to do these things everyday - the Martyr - (she's been playing the "old" card since she was 38 - no joke). He is the ONLY grandchild out of 4 that she has a close and personal relationship with (and of course, he is her favorite)