grandparentsHere’s another topic about which I know little: being a grandparent. Neither of my two sons has ever married or become a father. As a consequence, I have no experience with re-visiting the raising of children as an indulgent spectator, which is the role I assume most grandparents fulfill. Many of my retired friends seem to have focused their lives on grandchildren. I guess that’s a good thing.

Actually my notion of grandparenting is a stereotype. Grandparents take on many active and important roles in helping their children to raise their children. Often even becoming the only parent a child has.

I wondered if the role of grandparent has changed over the years. I could not really find any information on the role of grandparents changing over time. I’d hazard a guess that we are more indulgent and spend more on grandchildren than in earlier times, but change data was a bit thin. The role of back-up parent seems to have always been the role. The age of grandparents is a variable over time.

These days, the average age of becoming a grandparent is about 47 (1) and the average age of grandparents in general is 64 (2). Also, there are about 70 million grandparents in the US (3). Back a few hundred years there were not so many grandparents, they tended to be younger and even still in their own childbearing/rearing processes (4).  However, the trend in childbearing is changing and current generations are having children later in life and this means the role of grandparent may not become available so early in the future (5).

So, maybe there is hope for me still.


  1. Graham, B. ‘Grandma gets a Reboot. AARP Bulletin, September 2014, 55, 7, 10-12.
  2. AARP. The Grandparent Study 2002 Report. AARP, May 2002.
  3. Grandparent Statistics. Statistic Brain.
  4. Grandparents. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society.
  5. Tergesen, A. The Long (Long) Wait to Be a Grandparent. Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2014.

Some miscellaneous Links:

  1. Francese, P. The MetLife Report on American Grandparents. MetLife Mature Market Institute®, July 2011.
  2. Fun facts about grandparenting.
  3. Source for everything about America, statistics-wise anyhow.
    U.S Census Bureau, American Community Survey.

Image Source:

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. We use the self-same virtual world as was mentioned above. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: