Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, December 26, 2020

When you get to a certain age, you may be looking forward to becoming a grandparent — but that doesn’t mean you want to be labeled explicitly as such.

The relative youthfulness of many of today’s grandparents seems to be the biggest reason so many are opting for new titles. According to the AARP, the average age of first-time grandparents has declined to 47.

The new bimonthly magazine Grand debuted this fall. It is geared toward baby boomers with grandchildren who are anything but aging and arthritic…

“We’re trying to show that today’s grandparents are youthful, often leading very involved, active lives,” said Robert Strozier, editor and chief of Grand. “We’re trying to dispel the image of granny, gramps and rocking chairs.”

Susan Torres, a nurse with Hillsborough County’s Department of Aging Services, has a few theories about the declining use of Grandma and Grandpa.

She blames society’s fascination with youth, particularly among baby boomers. They think young, act young and want young-sounding names even as they confront old age.

“They don’t see themselves in that same context as they remember their grandparents,” said Torres, 54.

The most popular alternates to Granny and Grandpa, according to Grandparents Magazine: Nana, Oma, Grammy, Niny, Mimi, Mommom, Pepa, Papu, PopPop, Poppie, and PeePaw.

I’ve heard some of these titles used for newly-minted grandparentals. It occurs to me that they’re chosen primarily because they’re easiest for little toddlers to pronounce. That accounts for their cutesy nature.

If/when I have grandkiddies of my own, I’m sure I’ll revise my tune. But right now, I think this trend is a bit silly. No one wants to be outside the 18-45 demographic margin, and nothing accelerates that expulsion more than having a grandchild (or, more to the point, having a child who’s old enough to have a kid of his/her own). But let’s face it: No matter what label you put on it, you’re still a grandparent. Denying the traditional name doesn’t change that.

In the same vein, I can understand how jarring the experience must be to be in your early 40s and suddenly qualify for the cane-and-walker set. At 33, my fourth decade is starting to come into focus. My particular personal and family situation is such that I’m not liable to be a grandparent or even grand-uncle in the next ten years. But as others in that age group get there, it does become a case of guilt by association. And again, it’s a youth-centric culture, so no one is in a hurry to get marginalized.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/26/2004 11:27:15 AM
Category: Society | Permalink |

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  1. Well, having picked up my first grandchild (there are now two) right before my 46th birthday, I suppose I’m some sort of sad statistic.

    Then again, I am aging and arthritic. And if I’m not a primary target of contemporary advertising these days - well, big freaking deal. I didn’t pay that much attention to it when I was 18-45.

    Comment by CGHill — 12/26/2004 @ 03:07:35 PM

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