The phrase “respect your elders” carries a lot of weight in many societies. In some societies a Grandparents’ Day is not necessary as they feel confident in the fact that they show their grandparents, and all of their elders, the proper respect they deserve all year long. But in the United States and Canada there was a growing feeling among many people that the younger generations were beginning to lose respect for their grandparents and that grandparents were not seen as care givers or life guides but rather as just glorified babysitters that watch the kids when the real care givers decide to go out to dinner and movie one night a month. Traditionally, in societies that existed long before the United States, the grandparent held a high place of honor and respect in the family and the patriarch of the family was almost always the one that guided the family and was looked to for advice and counsel. In the last few generations that notion of the grandparents being wise and revered has been slipping and the government, after some pushing by activists in West Virginia, decided to put a stamp on a day set aside to respect your grandparents and they called that day Grandparents’ Day.
Being a grandparent in this day and age can be difficult because there is a prevailing feeling in American culture especially that there is no need for advice from someone that has experience, life lessons are to be learned during life and the raising of the children will happen by the parents and the grandparents will not be involved. It seems to be a hold over from the “Me” decade of the 1980’s where everyone felt that they wanted everything for themselves and that they could do everything themselves and they did not need any help. As time goes by however, many young parents begin to realize that the behavior that they grew up with from their parents, a behavior that they promised they would never repeat, actually had a purpose. It takes experience to really appreciate wisdom and as parents gained experience they soon came to appreciate the way their parents raised them. But that early life rebellious spirit will stay with the children and affect their relationship with their grandparents. The hope is that by recognizing grandparents with their own national day of respect that perhaps the younger generation will take notice and gain that respect for their elders that generations before them had.