Today regardless of how one feels about the verdict, the trial for the murder of a two year old granddaughter is over. But for the victim’s grandparents their life sentence is only continuing. “They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives,” the family stated in the press release issued at the trials end.
Many questioned why this dysfunctional family captured the interest of people not only in this country but also around the world. One of the reasons maybe that it sadly represents one view of the family in this 21st century world: in this case a grandmother and grandfather carrying the responsibility of raising and supporting their daughter, a young unwed mother along with her daughter, their grandchild. Were they really too different from other grandparents of today who are doing the same?
What happened to this family is definitely an aberration, but it is in some ways representative of what is happening to the grandparents of today. The changing family framework is placing a greater burden on grandparents at the very time they expected they would be relived of some of their parenting responsibilities. For the first time statistics show that the majority of the population are not married. Half of the couples that do marry seek divorce. More couples create ABV (all but vow) families, rejecting the legal route that same -sex couples are fighting so hard to achieve. Women with out husbands or partners are seeking motherhood in ways that reject fathers and male partners are seeking parenting by passing the need for mothers. There is no wonder that increasingly the help of grandparents is sought to fill the void.
For the grandparents in this case, “the long process of rebuilding their lives” begins now with their role as grandparents to keep the memory of their lost grandchild alive. It is hoped that they will find a way. For other grandparents who have watched this drama unfold, take it as a cautionary tale. The role of grandparent is one to be taken seriously. You are there to love, adore and keep your children and grandchildren on the right road. Being understanding is a great virtue, but stepping in aggressively when you observe danger ahead is your ultimate role.
May the grandparents we have watched take so much criticism, from so many, these last three years, find their future ahead filled with a greater purpose. There is a saying that seems to be appropriate, “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm: but it is about how to dance in the rain.