Learning From Challenges, Past and Present

The eminent psychologist Marshall Duke speaks of our “intergenerational sense of self,” in which the family narratives of our past gird our psyche with the emotional resilience to face challenges and difficulties. By sharing with our children and grandchildren our families’ and our own stories—of the 1918 flu pandemic, the polio epidemic, the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example—we pass on the fortitude that will help them cope during the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenging periods.

But grandparents do so much more during demanding times.  We have heard countless stories of grandparents stepping up, rolling up their sleeves, and sacrificing for their families. The findings of our study of grandparenting during the COVID-19 pandemic bear this out.  Grandparents are assuming additional childcare responsibilities, playing lead roles in distance learning and homeschooling, and sharing their homes with children and grandchildren for weeks and months at a time.

As more and more of us get our first and second vaccines and we begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID tunnel, we look back at what we have learned and what we have shared over these past difficult months.  We invite you to share your stories—of challenges but also of creativity, innovation, and accomplishment.  Please click HERE to send us your thoughts. We hope to post them on our website in the days ahead.

David Raphael is CEO and co-founder of the Jewish Grandparents Network.