Illustration credit: Jackie Ferrentino for Nautilus, “What good is Grandma?”

Post Dedication: To all of us and any of us who answer to the following: Grandmothers, Grans, Grannies, Grandfathers, Grampas, Opas, Nanas, Nonnos, Abuelas, Abuelitas, Avós, Farmors, Großmutters, Grootmoeders, Grandmères, and the other millions of parents-once-removed around the world whose names or titles I can’t track, or reproduce in print on my keyboard.

Bad enough that there is a ban on travelers from certain countries from entering the USA.

Some relief from travel embargo with Supreme Court ruling that folks who qualify as “bone fide close relations” to US residents are exempt.

But who briefed the State Department about who qualifies as close relations? I have no quarrel with those included, just with those left out.

How in the name of family life did White House officials  exclude grandparents, and excuse my bias, grandmothers in particular, as not just bone fide, but critically important family members?

Are they not aware of the following statistics?

  • Grandparents number 70 million is the US (which includes 40 million grandmothers).
  • 70% see their grandchildren at least once a week.
  • 66% travel with their grandkids and/or have them for all or part of the summer
  • (Not a statistic but most of us brag, too, and say we love our roles and think we do a better job with grandkids then we did with our own.)

But the outstanding data for family membership comes from science theory and the Grandmother Hypothesis first put forth in 1966. Human babies take a long time—14-20 years—to grow up. We, who are the mothers of the parents, in our post-menopausal phase, and with gene protection against early senility, stand first in line to aid in the raising of the children of our children. Put simply, families find it difficult to get along without us.

The good news comes from a courageous Judge—Derrick K. Watson—the Federal Judge of the District Court of Honolulu, who challenged the White House interpretation of “close relationship,” charging that it contradicted the Supreme Court’s order. Watson is eloquent in his confirmation of our place: “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.” (

And so it won’t—at least not for the immediate future.