Grandparents for 9/11

The Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN) issued a call to grandparents across the US and Canada to unite with other grandparents in churches and communities on September 11 to “pray for the children of our world, our families, and our country’s leaders.” With this 10th anniversary of 9/11 falling on a Sunday, the GCN Executive Director stated:

These are desperate and uncertain times for all, but especially for our grandchildren… we felt prompted to turn this day of tragedy into a compelling opportunity for grandparents to stand in the gap on behalf of the next generations.

The importance of children and future generations echoes a sentiment shared by many Native American peoples. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Seventh Generation philosophy that is commonly credited to the Iroquois Confederacy. It mandated that tribal decision makers consider the effects of their actions and decisions on their descendents for seven generations into the future. There was a clear understanding that we are all connected, and that everything we do has consequences for something and someone else.

This belief is woven into the culture of Native American tribes today and perhaps it is best reflected by the important role that grandparents play. As Kelly mentioned in her May post on National Older Americans Month, typically grandparents have lived long enough to gain experiences, wisdom, spiritual understanding, and the respect of their own community. It is through this life learning that grandparents are able to guide younger tribal members. Through storytelling and example, grandparents bridge the past with the present and their teachings are very important to preserving culture and traditions for future generations.

Historically in Native cultures, grandparents have also taken an active role, formally and informally, in caring for dependent children and providing other kinship care. On the Pine Ridge Reservation, there are reportedly about 59% of grandparents raising grandchildren in their own homes – and doing so under conditions of poverty, isolation, and personal health challenges. With respect to one-third of all children who live in a grandparent’s home, the grandparent lacks a high school diploma. Further, half of the grandchildren living in a grandparent’s home are younger than age 6. For further information, refer to the US Census.

On the heels of 9/11, we wish to remember Native American grandparents and grandparents everywhere and to say “Thank You” for the invaluable difference that you make. You and your wisdom are a key source of strength to us all and especially to the children.

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