COVID-19, the Economy and Grandma
Now that I am a grandma, I think back on one of the most important figures in my life with even more awe and respect. My grandmother was an immigrant as a young bride at the age of 18. She taught herself English by reading the newspaper, but then, again, she taught herself French by reading Balzac. She lived in Little Italy in Cleveland, Ohio for the first 15 years of marriage. She helped people write letters to family in Italy and she sold homemade bread which she delivered in a little wagon she pulled down the street. She was a genius with a needle and had an elegant sense of style.
When her husband’s construction company became the largest in N. East Ohio, building the original lake-front airport and the first wings of Crile hospital, the family moved to an elegant suburb. My Grandfather drove her there in one of the few “new fangled” Packards in the village. She was astute, loving, and dignified. Her wisdom was priceless. I adored her. If she were alive today, she would be about the last person I would want to sacrifice to the economy or to anything else, for that matter. She died at 90 and was as sharp and wonderful as ever.
How We Feel About The Elderly before COVID-19
In 2010 a study of college-age students in 26 countries was designed to measure the frequency of contact with the elderly. Here is the link to the interesting published study. Questionnaires were administered to samples of college students from 26 cultures on six continents. There were 3,435 participants.The three countries that reported the most contact with the elderly were Malaysia, Argentina, and India. This was based on participants reporting the frequency of interaction with the elderly.
Early studies found that higher levels of economic development are associated with a less favorable attitude of older adults.
Previous research has explored several potential explanations for intercultural differences in perceptions of aging. Early studies focused on socioeconomic predictors found that higher levels of economic development and industrialization are associated with less favorable attitudes towards aging and a lower societal status of older adults. I was expecting the opposite result but in thinking about it, I am sadly not surprised. Which brings us to the current debate about trading grandma in for a more time at the pubs.
Grandma Tests Positive for Being a Wrap Star for Grandkids.
In 2014, approximately 2,700,000 grandparents were raising grandchildren in the United States according to the Census Bureau.
How is that for resilience? When I worked in the school districts in our county, we established a support group for Grandparents raising Grandkids. It was challenging for some of the older adults who had already gone through orienting their kids to preschool, helping the girls’ volley ball team with fund raisers, finding enough money for a prom dress. It was hard to explain to some of these caregivers what pop culture had done to tradition in the 80s and 90s. It was quite moving to work with these groups and I respected their dedication. It was a lesson in resolve and resilience and frankly, love. The grandparents, who should have been taking it a little easier were getting kids back and forth to school, sports events, detention, waiting up late and more.
Research at the University of Oxford has shown how grandparents play a vital role in children’s wellbeing and the results have been informing UK family policy.
In families where grandparents are not the primary caregivers, grandparents play less of a disciplinary role. They supplement the raising of children by spending important time with them, being listeners, and offering valuable attention.
Texas Lt Governor says Grandparents should Be Willing to Die for the Economy.
Texas Lt Governor suggests elderly should be sacrificed for the sake of the economy during the COVID
Fox News says grandma should sacrifice for the sake of the economy.
“Not This Grandma”
Below are some quotes and a link from an article by Connie Schultz who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism.
“I don’t know who he’s looking at, but it sure isn’t this grandma to seven grandchildren. I would throw myself in front of a 137,000-pound Montana B-Train to save the life of a grandchild, but I will not risk a single hangnail to rescue corporate America.”
“I can’t name a single grandmother of my acquaintance who wants to throw away her life to save companies”— Connie Schultz, Not This Grandma
So it is gratifying to know that people in my age range have the resilience to step up to protect their grandkids but also to think for themselves.
Myriam Mayshark, LMHC is a licensed mental health therapist in New York State.