Grandparenting takes many forms. Some grandparents have little contact with their grandchildren, while others provide hours of care each week. Some grandparents live nearby—even with their grandchildren—while others live a long distance away. Some grandparents have custody of their grandchildren—they provide full-time kinship care, in place of parents.
No matter which relationship grandparents have with their grandchildren, they have influence. They pass on family history and cultural identity. In many cultures, grandparents and other elders are highly revered cornerstones of their communities. And many grandparents exude (and also enjoy) unconditional love.
On Sunday, September 10, we honor all grandparents. National Grandparents Day was proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in August 1978:
“Just as a nation learns and is strengthened by its history, so a family learns and is strengthened by its understanding of preceding generations. As Americans live longer, more and more families are enriched by their shared experiences with grandparents and great-grandparents.
“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. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. It is appropriate, therefore, that as individuals and as a nation, that we salute our grandparents for their contribution to our lives.”
In recent years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grandparents Day in Seattle has been celebrated online. This year, we are excited to return to an in-person gathering. We invite all grandparents, grand families, and elders (with or without younger people) to join us on National Grandparents Day from 2–4 p.m. at the Northwest African American Museum (2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle 98144).
This year’s program features:
- “Aging with Grace: Embracing the Joys and Challenges of Grandparenthood,” a presentation by Joe Hailey, chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services.
- Patheresa Wells, a spoken word artist, Queer poet, writer, storyteller, and aspiring comic born to a Black mother and Persian father, whose experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community.
- Music by the ever-popular NAAM African American Cultural Ensemble (ACE).
Hosted by the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders in partnership with the Northwest African American Museum, and with co-sponsorship from AARP Seattle, Age Friendly Seattle, Aging and Disability Services, and the Seattle Human Services Department, admission, entertainment, and refreshments are FREE.
Are you raising a grandchild?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multigenerational households—three or more generations under one roof—are currently on the rise. There were six million U.S. multigenerational households in 2020, up from 5.1 million in 2010, according to 2020 Census data—a 20 percent increase over one decade.
A sizeable number of grandparents have custody of their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent who is working so you can support a grandchild, and are responsible for that grandchild’s care, you may have trouble making ends meet. Help is available.
The King County Kinship Navigator program directs caregivers to the community resources such as food, clothing, household items, transportation, legal fees, school and youth activities, and one-time help with rent or utilities to prevent eviction or shutoffs. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-328-5951.
For information and local referrals to aging and disability services, contact Community Living Connections at (toll-free) 844-348-5464.
Contributor Karen Winston is a senior planner with Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County, and coordinator of the annual Grandparents Day celebration.
Mayor’s Council on African American Elders
The Mayor’s Council on African American Elders (MCAAE) advocates for accessible, culturally appropriate, comprehensive services with a focus on people of African descent who are isolated, frail, and low-income. Its primary focus is on people of African descent who are 55 years of age or older and reside in Seattle or elsewhere in King County. For more information or to get involved, e-mail Karen.Winston@seattle.gov or visit www.seattle.gov/MCAAE.