Many senior adults will readily say that one of the greatest joys of growing older is becoming a grandparent. Elder citizens who were busy and successful during their earlier working years now have more time for interaction and shared experiences with their children and grandchildren. Also, grandparenting generally avoids many of the demands of child-raising, such as diapers, sleepless nights, carpool, and so on.
Strong relationships between grandparents and grandchildren go a long way in shaping a young person’s future. According to the independent research group, Legacy Project, children who had grandparents involved in their lives tended to be more advanced in their social and emotional development. As many as nine out of ten adult grandchildren feel their grandparents influenced their values and behaviors.
Given the importance of those intergenerational bonds, it is appropriate that a special annual recognition should be designated and celebrated. That is why we now have Grandparents Day, which is Sunday, September 8 this year.
Grandparents Day was originally the idea of a West Virginia woman named Marion McQuade in 1970. A mother of 15 with 43 grandchildren, McQuade was a powerful advocate for the roles grandparents play in their families’ lives. She believed that if a national holiday were established to recognize the work of grandparents everywhere, more people would come to appreciate the contributions older people have made and the wisdom and guidance their mentoring can offer.
Her concept was a tough sell. America in the 1960s and 70s was caught up in a sweeping youth movement and social changes, with less emphasis on traditional family structure.
Nonetheless, McQuade worked tirelessly to persuade lawmakers about the value of a Grandparents Day. Finally, on August 3, 1978, Congress passed a bill which was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. In establishing the event, the official proclamation read, in part: “The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our Nation to their children and grandchildren.”
It also was agreed that the first Sunday after Labor Day would be designated as Grandparents Day every year.
Who are today’s grandparents?
The United States Census Bureau estimates there are over 50 million people in the U.S. ages 65 or older. Among that group, approximately 83 percent report having grandchildren, according to the Pew Research Center. About seven million older adults live with their grandchildren full-time.
Because of divorces and parents who have remarried, many children today may have six or seven adults in their lives who fit the grandparent or step-grandparent role. Those changes in family dynamics can be good or bad. Sometimes, a contentious divorce or child custody situation will prevent young people from seeing their grandparents. Consequently, several states have enacted new laws to allow grandparent visitation privileges when they are deemed to be in a child’s best interests.
How do you celebrate Grandparents Day?
Many proponents of Grandparents Day view it as an occasion for the younger generations to honor their elder predecessors with gifts, cards, family gatherings, and so on. However, if you are a senior citizen, why not use the event to share of yourself?
Take advantage of the opportunity to pass along knowledge and wisdom you’re compiled over the years. Perhaps sit down with your grandchildren and draw a family tree, or write a journal of your personal recollections about relatives and ancestral histories your grandchildren do not know. Some companies offer professional video services where you can sit and recount your stories to be digitally preserved. Creating such keepsakes now will provide cherished memories someday when you can no longer have such conversations in person.
Pass along your legacy safely
Most grandparents have hopes and aspirations for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and part of making those dreams come true is having an effective estate plan in place. You may want certain family members to inherit your valued possessions, and you definitely won’t want them to be part of a legal battle when the time comes.
To protect your assets and make sure your things go where you want, it is essential to obtain a series of important legal documents now, including wills, trusts, a Power of Attorney, and other safeguards. The experienced elder law attorneys at TuckerAllen can provide smart solutions for seniors to help you understand your best options.
TuckerAllen also offers free educational workshops, where our attorneys explain the various asset-protection programs, all in terms that are easy to understand.
To learn more, contact us today discuss your individual planning priorities.