Today is Grandparents Day, a lesser-known holiday than the two days for parents earlier in the year, but one I would be remiss to overlook. My grandmother is turning 95 soon, but has accepted my partner and our son without question as part of her family and lineage. Here’s to her.
My own parents have been an invaluable help to my partner and me as we journey through parenthood. (My partner’s parents are great as well, but live across the country and are less involved with our daily lives.) My folks live close enough to provide occasional babysitting support, but far enough that a visit from them still feels special to our son. He loves having them around, and the feeling is mutual. Mom is an endless supply of craft ideas and bargain children’s clothing, and Dad ensured that we moved from New York to Massachusetts with a son who was already a Red Sox fan. (He also taught our son a thing or two about the manly art of peeing while standing.) In addition, they are the source of many embarrassing childhood photos of me as a young girl, which they felt necessary to drag out as soon as they found we were expecting.
I count it a blessing that my parents are supportive of our family. I know that not all LGBT people can say that. I also know of cases where the birth of a grandchild was the catalyst for grandparents to accept their child’s sexual orientation and to welcome her or his partner as a member of the family. While I can never condone rejecting a child because of sexual orientation or gender identity, I do realize it can be difficult for those who grew up in a different era to come to grips with the evolving shape of families today. (I should, however, also acknowledge the presence of an increasing number of LGBT grandparents, as well as non-grandparent LGBT seniors.) As we LGBT parents and our children explore new facets of what it means to be a family, our parents do as well. A non-biological mom or dad means non-biological grandparents, with many of the attendant emotional and legal complexities. A known donor who is active in a child’s life may have parents who are involved as well. How we negotiate these relationships will vary. The one constant that can pull us through, the part of family that never gets redefined, is love.
Feel free to share your own thoughts about your grandparents, your children’s grandparents, or your experience as a grandparent.