Advice from Amy: Mourning Non-Existent Grandchildren
When our grown children won’t have children of their own
“I’m sad for my son that he is still unmarried and without kids.” See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson says in this edition of Ask Amy.
My 40-year-old son, “James” has had many bright, beautiful, and intelligent girlfriends. He has been engaged and ended various relationships throughout his adult years.
James is currently in an on/off relationship (for the past five years) with no marriage plans in sight. His father and I have been amicably divorced for decades.
My overall concern is that my son will never marry or find someone even for companionship.
I don’t want him to be a lonely, aging bachelor.
Even though I know that my life has been fulfilling and enriched with good experiences, I worry about my son’s well-being.
Not becoming a grandmother is a concern (for me, not for him), but mainly I do feel bad over James not experiencing the fullness of life with family and children.
I know that not everyone marries, but I’m sad about James. I’m grateful for my own good health and for enjoying a long, rich life.
I have foster animals, which I call my Grandpets.
Can you tell me how I might better cope with my sadness over my son?
– Sad not to be a Grandma
Dear Sad: Your son “James” might not be a lonely aging bachelor, but a man who has enjoyed a variety of romantic relationships of varying durations, which is the norm for him.
I think it is a mistake to define “the fullness of life” as one that must contain one’s own children – or any children – even though this has been your experience.
But because you define the fullness of life this way, you are quite understandably disappointed and even mourning the fact that your life is a little less full than you had hoped.
A Pew Research Center survey from 2021 finds that “a rising share of U.S. adults who are not already parents say they are unlikely to ever have children, and their reasons range from just not wanting to have kids to concerns about climate change and the environment.”
Your sadness over not having grandchildren will be shared by many other prospective grandparents.
Unless your son demonstrates that his life is unfulfilled and empty, you should not misplace your concerns.
You seem to be satisfied with the choices you’ve made in life, and your decision to keep your life full is healthy and commendable.
In addition to the animals you foster, I hope you can find ways to bring children into your life. Look into a Foster Grandparent Program in your community, and see if you are able to extend this special kind of love and connection to a young child.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a mother mourning non-existent grandchildren to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson