What If Your Children Don't Have Grandparents?

09/09/2010 04:27 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Allison Gilbert Emmy award-winning journalist and critically acclaimed author

This coming Sunday is Grandparents Day, and while you may be skeptical about the influence grandparents have on grandchildren, let me tell you their impact is enormous and measurable. And it's because of that that I know my children are missing out on so much.

For years, experts have researched the influence of grandparents on the lives of grandchildren. Study after study show that grandparents teach real-life skills grandchildren may otherwise not acquire, pass along family history and traditions they may otherwise never hear or experience, and provide the kind of support and compassion they just can't get from their own parents during those rebellious teen years. One group of researchers even found that children of divorce who have grandparents have fewer emotional problems related to the break-up than children who don't.

A good question, then, is where does this leave the children of parentless parents? My children never got to know my parents. They died when my son, my oldest, was just 18 months old. It's not that my children don't have any grandparents. They do. My in-laws are engaged and exceedingly warm and loving. But my parents were different people, after all, and would have brought their own set of interests and expertise to the grandparent table.

This year for Grandparents Day parentless parents are coming together with a twist on the traditional holiday. On Sunday, October 17 in Yonkers, NY from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. we will celebrate the grandparents our children no longer have in their lives. If you don't live in the NYC area, you can still honor the memory of your parents (and their place in your children's lives) by creating your own celebration.

To learn more about the Parentless Parents version of Grandparents Day search "Parentless Parents" on Facebook. You can also email me directly at

Allison Gilbert's third book "Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children" will be published by Hyperion in February 2011.

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