Friday, January 16, 2009

New/Old Ideas


When Obama's mother-in-law moves into the White House it will send a powerful message to mainstream America. Over the last many decades the importance of extended family has faded to a pervasive view of familial autonomy. Our old have been shuffled off to old-folks homes, far from family and especially children. But it was not always this way. Our agrarian society evolved for centuries with the grandparents living in the extended-family home, or nearby. What has this meant to society? Well, for one thing, it has certainly had an affect on our children's sense of security and even how lonely they feel. Grandparents fill the gap between busy parents and trying to figure things out on their own, or within their cohort groups. As we can guess, asking advice from someone who is also twelve, is not always the best solution. Developmentalists have studied the familial-type bonds that have evolved with adolescents and younger children. These children form very close and loyal relationships with others in their age group, but not necessarily in a healthy way when those are their main avenues for important information, or better yet, understanding. Grandparents, on the other hand, usually have time, patience, experience, and the advantage of longevity. They have been through many cycles of life, through their own experiences, with their own parents, siblings, and through their own children's life issues. They are the perfect fit for lonely children or adolescents. Of course, this is only true if the child/grandparent relationship is a healthy one. So from a family science point of view, I am thrilled with the Obama's choice to have the continuity that the grandmother represents. Hopefully, it will send a message, during these troubling times, that families need to come first. It is our society's first defense against the ravages of our economic meltdown.

4 comments:

Faithful said...

My grandkids are already being somewhat reared by their extended family as we are very close.. but with the way the economy is going, we (extended families) soon will be forced to live together in one house, like my mom was saying during her childhood.. when her grandparents, her aunt and her uncles lived in her basement and they all shared the food and warmth.

swaney3 said...

Fantastic Post! Although I'm not an Obamma fan I still notice and appreciate their leadership thus far, family is important and the future first lady has thus far demonstrated that success isn't measured by 3k dollar gowns.

Hilary said...

Good points. My Grandmother did live with us. It was fairly normal at that time. It's nice to see such a public family doing likewise.

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