What does the word “grandparents” mean to you? For me, it has many meanings.
I think of my own grandparents, who have all passed away. I was exceptionally close to my grandmothers and used their maiden names to name my first born. I think of wonderful afternoons connecting as well as missed opportunities. I think of how delighted they would be at news about my boys and the comfort they would have given me on days parenting seems overwhelmingly tough.
I also think of my own parents and in-laws. At their age, my grandparents were settled in their communities and lived a simple life day to day. My kids’ grandparents are go-getters! It seems they are always traveling, taking on new experiences and have a full calendar. They are redefining what it means to be “older” and to be grandparents.
In some cases, grandparents are acting as parents for their grandchildren. In fact, 2.7 million grandparents were responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under age 18 living with them in 2011. Of these caregivers, 1.7 million were grandmothers and 1.0 million were grandfathers.