Grandparents Day is just around the corner, falling this year on Sunday, September 10th. In the U.S., the move to add the commemoration of Grandparents Day to the calendar was driven by Jacob Reingold and Marian McQuade. They advocated for a special day set aside to honor grandparents, and by 1978, their efforts led to the United States Congress legislation proclamation, followed by a presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter, making the first Sunday after Labor Day the holiday of Grandparents Day1.
We’ve recently journeyed through a series of articles about today’s families, including a look at the newest trends in motherhood and in fatherhood. Over 30% of Americans today are grandparents, and the average grandparent has six grandchildren2. While we tend to have certain tropes about grandparents, that grandparents are retired, out of the loop, and behind the times, the data shows differently. The average age today for becoming a grandparent is 47, and the average age of grandparents overall is 64. If you’re a grandparent and you’re under the age of 65, you’re likely in the majority who are still working.
Cultures across the world have varying ways of viewing grandparents. A recent book, called Grandparents in Cultural Context, was co-authored by fifteen different writers and researchers across a variety of countries. The book’s co-editor, University of New Mexico professor Ziarat Hossain, says that grandparents in the U.S. and the U.K. most commonly have a “non-interference” approach to grandparenting, meaning that they will help out and visit with their grandchildren when they are asked to. In contrast, he notes, grandparents in Asia and Africa are often considered a second set of parents in those family dynamics, having a more direct impact in the raising of their grandchildren3.
Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
Because of better approaches to health care and healthy living habits, today’s grandparents and grandchildren often enjoy a longer shared life together. (If you’re an Altrua HealthShare Member, make sure you’re getting your required screenings and using your office visits for well-checks. If you’re not yet an Altrua HealthShare Member, one of our Member Services Representatives can help you find a membership that’s the right fit for your healthcare needs and budget. Just call 1.833.3-ALTRUA (258782) ) This can have a significant impact on educational, financial, and health levels for grandchildren. According to a recent study by the European Sociological Review, “models reveal that every shared year between grandparents and grandchildren increases a grandchild’s likelihood of completing general secondary education by 1 percentage point, on average4.” The study also notes that grandmothers, in particular, help raise education outcomes and the availability of resources for grandchildren.
In today’s world, whether you live close to your grandchildren or you’re across the country, there are more ways than ever to stay connected, even on a daily basis. The rise of digital grandparenting means that you can FaceTime, text, call, play video games, have movie nights, and more, all from wherever you happen to be. Even for grandparents who live in the same town, these digital resources can allow you to be in even greater contact. For grandparents who are often on the road traveling or who live several states away, using digital platforms for staying connected to your grandchildren can make those times when you are physically together smoother, as you are a more consistent presence in your grandchild’s life.
While certain cultures have long resided in multigenerational homes, the trend has boomed over the last few years, particularly in the home-building market. For example, home builder David Weekly offers multiple floor plans that include mother-in-law suites.5 The Kimberly Davis real estate group features multigenerational homes that essentially have two homes under the same roof, with separate entrances, designed with living areas, bedrooms, and kitchens that are distinct from each other but are still part of the same household.6 Development groups project that the demand for multigenerational housing will continue to grow as families look for solutions for keeping extended family close.7 For today’s grandparents, this could look like having more of a daily life and active role with their adult children and their grandchildren.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children~
With the continued growth of two-income families, grandparents are also growing in their roles in providing childcare support. Grandmothers serve as the primary childcare provider for 42% of working parents.8 In fact, there is speculation that grandmothers today are playing a key role in driving the U.S. economy because of their involvement in being a primary source of unpaid childcare. It’s also been shown that in playing a bigger role in the caregiving of your grandchildren, you may find that your eating habits, activity level, and healthy habits increase, a bonus for your overall health.
Today’s grandparents are active, involved in their careers, traveling, and enjoying better healthcare options and lifestyle choices. Whether you’re already a grandparent or you’ve got some years to go before you wear that title, you’re building your heritage today. With all the latest trends in grandparenting today, the powerful impact of a grandparent on a grandchild’s life remains timeless. Your love, involvement, and example can help guide the next generation and the next.9