Grandchildren urged to tap into the wisdom that comes with age 

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders wants to remind residents that Sunday, Sept. 9, is National Grandparents Day – a time to honor one’s grandparents and tap into the wisdom and guidance their grandparents could provide.

“Grandparents are a vital part of the family structure,” said Freeholder Director John P. Curley, liaison to the Monmouth County Office on Aging. “Not only do they serve as role models and mentors for their grandchildren, they teach values, instill ethnic heritage and pass on family traditions. They worked very hard all their lives for their family and they deserve all the respect in the world.”

In 1978, the first Sunday after Labor Day was designated to be National Grandparents Day, after Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade of West Virginia initiated a campaign to set aside a special day just for grandparents and to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes.

In the original proclamation, President Jimmy Carter wrote that because grandparents “are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.”

In the past 34 years, the role of grandparents in society has changed. People are living and working longer, and staying more active. As a result, grandparents have undergone an image shift. 

  • In ever increasing numbers, they work and are a vital component of the economy. A record 7.2 million Americans 65 and older are in the workforce, double the number 15 years ago. 
  • As of 2010, 2.5 million older Americans across the nation reported being both the householder and caretaker to their grandchildren. In New Jersey, more than 50,000 grandparents are raising their grandchildren. 
  • They are the backbone of volunteer forces. Just look at Meals on Wheels drivers, library master gardeners, or Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts volunteers. Their contributions are monumental and defy quantification.
  • They lavish their grandchildren with time, attention, love and nurturing and a link to their family history. 

“The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is unique,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “Grandparents can be an important emotional major support during family crises, and have a positive influence in the lives of their grandchildren.”

Grandparents Day is a family day. Schools, churches and senior organizations honor grandparents with special events. Others celebrate by holding family reunions or some other private gatherings.

“Board games or some other game often foster intergenerational interactions,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “It can be fun to set aside time to ask questions about major historic events in which the grandparent lived through to get a personal and unique perspective. Simply getting together to organize and date old family photos is a good way to share happy memories.”

“Special talents such as cooking, sculpting or quilting can be passed on to those who express an interest,” Freeholder Gary J. Rich Sr. said. “The important thing is to spend quality time with your grandparents and let them know how much you love and respect them.”

“Many times, only grandparents have answers to questions about family histories,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “Everyone is a grandchild and can be involved in the observance. It is the perfect time to discover one’s roots and learn patience, understanding and appreciation for the elderly.”