The situations in which grandparents are called upon to care for a grandchild are many and varied and have been with us forever. In fact, in some cultures it's the expected ideal. And while it may not take a whole village to care for the children, it does command the attention of the whole family.
But that's not the way things are expected to work in this country. We still hold dear the nuclear family: Mom, Dad, Buddy and Sis living under the same roof, each fulfilling his or her assumed role within the tight group. But many factors can impinge upon the ideal, especially in the age of the two-earner family, calling into play the next available resources, Grandma and Grandpa, who may have plenty of time on their hands in retirement and who dote on their grandkids to begin with.
These are not the people staff writer Vikki Kratz is talking to in her cover story this week, "Grandparents to the Rescue." Though the statistics cited in the story attest to millions of children in the care of their grandfolks, many of these situations may be temporary. I know a lot of youngish grandparents who look forward to time spent with the issue of their issue. But being saddled with growing children 24/7/365 is simply not tolerable to them. They've raised their kids, they have resumed living their own lives for themselves, and they like it that way.
Sometimes, though, circumstances intrude, harshly. There may be no alternative, other than foster care, than the grandparents reshouldering the parental burden. When that happens you have cases like the two that Kratz refers to in her story. Such instances can be very hard on the senior caregivers, their relationships and their finances. Should there be someone you know who has been presented with a like situation, the story is accompanied by a list of resources.
This issue also contains IBQ, or Isthmus Books Quarterly, our regular update on the Madison literary scene, edited and largely penned by supplements editor Linda Falkenstein. The feature deals primarily with news of books by and/or about people with a connection to the Madison area. The lead item in this edition talks about a soon-to-be-released book on Chris Farley, who was brought up in Madison, captured comedic fame and lost his life too soon. Falkenstein talks with Farley's brother Tom, who co-produced the book with professional writer Tanner Colby.
I shouldn't have to say this but, just in case, IBQ appears four times a year in Isthmus.