Why stepgrandparents matter

Every day, I read what journalists around the world are reporting about grandparents and their families. Here are some stories that gripped me recently.


Laura Barnett was a teenager when her mother remarried. In this essay, she describes the meaningful relationship she established with her stepfather’s mother, “who became my stepgrandmother and my friend.”

“We don’t hear a great deal about stepgrandparents, and what it is like, on both sides, to build new family relationships across the generations,” Laura writes. “But there is, I think, something particularly special about the stepgrandparent. Standing at one remove from the new partnership, and all the hue and cry the blending of a family can involve, they have the potential to play a unique role for the stepgrandchild—part grandparent, part wise, trusted confidante.”

The Guardian • June 6, 2015


Nancy Schatz with her pie recipe. Photo by the Portland Press-Herald.

The famous pie recipe. Photo by the Portland Press-Herald.

Nancy Schatz is famous in her town for the blueberry pie she’s been baking for ages.

She learned how to make it from her mother, who learned how to make it from hers.

When Nancy’s son married, she taught her daughter-in-law how to make the pie, which includes secret ingredients like tapioca and brandy.

And now that her granddaughters are 9 and 7, she’s teaching them how to make it, too.

Portland Press-Herald • August 26, 2015

Study finds dramatic decline in heart disease deaths, but not for everyone

Dr. Viola Vaccarino. Photo by Ron Barwick for the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

Good news for grandparents and the people who love them: The heart health of older Americans keeps getting better.

Over the past 30 years, there’s been a dramatic drop in the annual rate of heart disease deaths among Americans over age 65, and much of this improvement has accrued in the past decade, according to a study led by Dr. Viola Vaccarino of Emory University.

Unfortunately, the study also found that among Americans under age 55, the annual rate of death from heart disease is no longer declining significantly, perhaps due to the diabetes and obesity epidemics, among other factors.

CBS News • August 25, 2015

Nicole gill and robert ottaway jr.: GRANDMA KNOWS BEST. BOTH OF THEM.

The happy couple. Photo by The New York Times.

The happy couple. Photo by The New York Times.

When Mary Fran Griffith tried to set up her grandson with the granddaughter of her close friend Patricia, he resisted.

“I blew it off for a few weeks because I’d been through that routine before,” he says. “But my grandmother was fairly persistent about it, and I thought, ‘O.K., I’ll just humor her and give this girl a call.’”

Mary’s grandson and Patricia’s granddaughter were married earlier this month in Jackson, Wyo.

“Pat and I giggle about it because in this day of electronics and Match.com, of all the ways people meet, this is certainly the old-fashioned way, isn’t it?” Mary says.

“But we have played it very low-key, and it’s only [my grandson’s] friends that have been heard to say, ‘Gosh, I wish my grandmother would do that for me.’”

The New York Times • August 9, 2015


Kids who’ve been adopted from foster care need a lot of support, and so do their new parents. They find it at Hope Meadows, a former military base in Illinois that’s now a thriving planned community.

About 10 of the houses at Hope Meadows are occupied by families with kids who were formerly in foster care. The remaining 70 are reserved for older adults, who commit to becoming the kids’ “grandparents.”

National Public Radio • August 4, 2015