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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Children Without Grandparents Are 'Lost People'

August Wilson 1945-2005
August Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who grew up in the Hill section of Pittsburgh, once made the statement, “ Children who don’t have connections with their grandparents are lost people. They don’t know who they are.”

Wilson, the fourth of six children born to an African-American  mother and a German immigrant father, was raised largely by his mother, a cleaning woman who divorced when he was quite young. He laments the number of children who grow up without the nurturing of a father, grandfather and/or a grandmother.

Or in some cases, a grandparent may be the only real mentor in children's lives, and all too many, regardless of economic status, live in communities in which people have few ties with each other, with their extended families, or with their past.

Children thrive best when they grow up in a clan of folks who tell them family stories, who model good values, and who provide wholesome role models and heroes for them to look up to and follow.

Where those networks don’t exist, our congregations and communities need to work at creating them, through forming relationships with adopted 'grand-mentors' who are willing to offer some good quality time to our young. We can't afford to have children learn only the worldview and values of their peers or of the media to which they are exposed.

I don't have many memories of my biological grandparents, the last surviving one having died when I was five. But I feel blessed to have had grown up with a strong, intergenerational extended family, along with a close-knit church family in which I had good surrogate grandparents.

And now we are blessed with six grandchildren, ages 5-10, for whom we hope we can provide some of the nurturing from which to launch future grandparents who can provide the same support for generations yet to come.
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