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grandmothers

The grandmother was suspicious.

A grandmother always felt her middle granddaughter Lindsay, 15, looked slightly different from the rest of the family because she had blonde, curly hair, while the rest of her siblings’ hair was dark “I thought genetics was being weird and I love her,” she wrote on Reddit’s AITA forum.

But things became serious after Linday’s parents “banned” her from taking things a step further and getting a DNA test. If the family was sure their daughter was theirs, why would they forbid her from seeking clarity in the situation? After the parents laid down the law, the situation started to seem a little suspicious.

“I told my son and [daughter-in-law] that there was something fishy around her birth she needed to know. They denied it and told me to leave it alone,” the grandma wrote.


Lindsay wouldn’t give up her quest. She approached her biology teacher, who admitted that it was “odd” for her to have such different traits. This confusion was too much for Lindsay, so she went to her grandmother for help. “She came to me distressed, asking me to buy a DNA test since she needs to know,” the grandmother wrote.

dna tests, paternity tests, grandmothers

She had blonde, curly hair. But her siblings all had black hair.

via Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

The grandmother purchased a DNA test and it proved their suspicions. “Long story short, she is not her mother's kid,” the grandmother wrote. “My son got someone else pregnant and her bio mom gave her up.”

The interesting thing was that Lindsay was a middle child. So, the dad had a baby with another woman while he was with his wife. This revelation begs the question: How did the family suddenly have a baby out of nowhere without people being suspicious?

“They were on the other side of the country when she was born, and I met Lindsey when she was about 6 months old. Really not hard to hide the whole thing,” the grandmother wrote. “Our family has a history of miscarriages, so it’s common to drop news about a baby late in the pregnancy. They did the same with their oldest and didn't think anything about it.”

The big revelation has caused friction in the family. The family no longer talks to the grandmother, which makes Lindsay even more furious about the situation.

Should the grandmother have taken such drastic steps if she knew what could happen if her suspicions were true? The commenters on Reddit overwhelmingly supported the grandmother’s decision. The big reason was that Lindsay needed to know her family history for medical reasons.

"Your son and his wife suck for lying to her until she is 15 about something so important and trying to keep lying to her even after she obviously started to question things. There are medical reasons a person might need to know what their genetics are/are not, and if you hadn’t helped her, she would have found out some other way," Shake_Speare423 wrote.

Another commenter noted that protecting the parents’ lie wasn’t nearly as important as Lindsay’s mental health.

"People have a right to know their genetic heritage. Lying about adoption is linked to increased suicidal ideation, anxiety, and depression. You put her safety and comfort ahead of your son’s preferences. Parental rights do not have greater value than a child’s right to access comprehensive medical care, and hiding an adoption does precisely that. Maybe some things, like a child staying healthy, should matter more than a parent's right to lie, gaslight and manipulate their child as they see fit," RemembrancerLirael added.

The commenters overwhelmingly supported the grandma for putting herself into an uncomfortable situation to protect her granddaughter’s mental and physical health. However, one commenter noted that she could have gone about it in a less polarizing way.

“Bit out of the norm for the responses here, but you should have gone through your son [and daughter-in-law] and convinced them. Told them that the biology teacher had highlighted that she had traits that didn't make sense, etc. and convinced them that Lindsey would find out either way,” PhilMcGraw wrote. “It would have allowed them to find a way to tell her without it being forced on them angrily. A DNA test is the absolute worst way to be told. I'm sure they would have much rather told her than let her find out by a DNA test if that is what was coming.”


This article originally appeared on 11.29.23

For those of us lucky enough to have grandmas (and grandpas!), we know they can be a blessing.

Grandparents can be sources of wisdom, comfort, or joy. Not to mention that many of us actually grew up with our grandparents — family doesn't just mean a mom and dad raising kids. We're a lot more diverse than that.

In fact, the percentage of kids living in households run by a grandparent has more than doubled from about 3% in the 1970s to about 7% now — that's more than 5 million grandkids, as of 2012, getting the care they need.


So I think it's fair to say we're really lucky to have grandparents.

You know who else is really lucky to have a grandma? This little guy.

Turns out that elephant grandmas are very important too!

Elephants often live in large families made up of babies, juveniles, and females. They're often led by the oldest of these females, which often have a really important social role in their families.

Professor Phyllis Lee wanted to know more about how these families worked. And in her research, she found something surprising — having a grandma made a huge difference in whether a new baby survived.

"It was an unexpected finding for us," said Lee. "We didn't think we'd find that very positive relationship between having a grandmother present and how well the daughters were doing in terms of reproduction."

Only a handful of animals — mostly humans and other primates, whales, and elephants — get to have grandmas.

For most animals, living and having babies are tied together; you basically only stop having babies when you die. This makes animals like elephants, which can live long after they're done reproducing, pretty rare.

Part of the reason elephants are special comes from the fact that they live so long. They can live up to 70 years! Many other animals simply don't live long enough to really see their children's children. 

But even if they do, other animals don't necessarily have any significant bond to the kid. You don't see millipede grandmas, for example. 

In fact, in many species, the mom and grandmother will end up fighting each other for resources if they're in the same area. But not in elephants. 

"Elephants are really nice and supportive," said Lee. 

(By the way, sorry Grandpa, but there aren't really any male equivalents here. Male elephants tend to go off on their own after they reach puberty. And though they can live long enough to see their children's children, they don't really have a family role. Which, when you think about it, just makes human grandpas even more special.)

It's not unusual for the entire herd to help raise a new baby, even if it's not directly related to them. Image from Brenda/Flickr.

What do elephant grandmas do for their families?

Elephant grandmas help protect the baby, keep track of it, and help it if it gets stuck. 

Grandmas are also often the boss of the family, too. They can lead the family to the right places to forage or drink or lead the way when interacting with other elephant families.

Knowing where to find water can be really important on the savanna. Image from ninara/Flickr.

Part of what made Lee's study special was the place they worked and the sheer amount of data they used.

Lee looked at data from more than 800 individual elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park. Researchers have been watching elephants in Amboseli for more than four decades

That's the kind of records you need when you study an animal that can live as long as a human. 

"We're only halfway there, we need another 40 years of data," said Lee. 

Her work is also interesting because it could give us hints about our own species – like why we go through menopause, for example. It was published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Animals can have families just as complex and diverse as our own.

Next time you meet someone who grew up with their grandma, let them know that they're like an elephant. 

All of this makes me want to give a certain someone a hug.