The Changing Family Constellation

My apologies for not doing a blog in June, but we took our six year old granddaughter to the Grand Canyon the first week in June and then went back to Maryland for two weeks to see family and return her to her mother. She had been living with us for the past year. Unfortunately her mother was not ready for her due to a lack of a home and a stable job.

We are coming to understand that it is becoming more and more common for grandparents and other family members to take of children they did not create. When we enrolled our granddaughter La’Nyiah in kindergarten class last year we learned that three of the eight children in the class were living with grandparents.  When I saw my physician for a routine physical and mentioned our granddaughter was living with us, he said, “You would be surprised how often I hear about this kind of situation. How well are you holding up?”

Although it is true that some children have always been raised by extended family members due to death, disability, physical illness, and abandonment, the numbers have  been increasing in the past decades due to substance abuse and related mental illness.  The media has been giving the opioid epidemic a lot of attention lately. Substance abuse also takes parents out of the picture through incarceration and drug overdoses. Grandparents are willing to stand in the breach because they care for their grandchildren and want the best for them but it can create stress on physical health and financial resources.  Since the Recession of 2008, there are fewer government resources available like counselling to help the situation.

Looking at another dysfunctional family situation, the young male emu Ellis sat on the eggs which his mate Irma had laid in December for four months, but none of the eggs hatched.  Ellis had not sat on the eggs for all of January and the young embryos had died without his being aware of it.  I think because of his young age and the lack of a group of emus to show him the ropes, he didn’t know what he was doing at first.

Fran had not visited the emus for six months due to severe allergies and asthma, but she got down to their ranch in July.  She spoke to Irma in soft tones to re-establish the relationship.  Ellis stood a ways off.  But, the emus had not forgotten that Fran is their discriminative stimulus for their mating dance.  Irma walked of a few steps, being discrete as a female and then sat on the grass. Ellis noted this change in her behavior and quickly ran over, pounced on her back, and began wiggling and jiggling.  We will have to see if there is a new group of emu eggs this year, and whether Ellis will man up to his responsibilities from the beginning or just be another sperm donor.

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