Why we're so ga-ga about being grandparents

Introduced: February 12 2016


And I don’t mean “Gaga” as in the lady in the sparkly red pantsuit who sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl. I mean the emotion defined by as “ardently fond” or “wildly enthusiastic.”


I have some theories about that after interviewing hundreds of grandparents for Good to Be Grand, the book I’ve written that’s coming out this April.


Grandchildren, you see, for many of us, come along at precisely the right time of life. Some other things may have become a little routine or stale. A little predictable and repetitive. But grandchildren are a whole new rush.


A study by the Foundation for Grandparenting found that one of the attributes that goes along with being a really effective grandparent is “readiness,” meaning that you have a grandchild at the right time for you. Being ready might come at a different time for different people. Grandfathers, especially, are affected by readiness because they tend to mellow a little as they get older, hang up the briefcase and pull out the fishing rod or golf clubs, shed the need to be powerful, authoritative, and right all the time. A few grandfathers I know are definitely putty in the hands of their little grandgirls or boys.


And grandmothers? It doesn’t take long to get right back into the swing of it, to feel that sweet baby’s breath on your neck as you rock or sway with the baby on your shoulder…


So you may be ardently fond and I may be wildly enthusiastic – but we’re not alone.


The results of a poll commissioned by CBS news and charted in Vanity Fair, explored how Americans feel about life and death. The survey asked a variety of questions, but two of them support the idea that we’re all gaga.


People were asked “If you could be reincarnated and have a new life as any one of the following, which would you choose?” The options were “A prince or a princess of a small peaceful country; a brilliant recluse who becomes famous only after death; a healthy dog with loving owners; or your own grandchild” – the winning answer (with 34%) was “my own grandchild.”


When asked “Which one of the following things would you most like to be named for you after you die?  -- a street, a national holiday, a rest stop on a highway, or a grandchild – it was no contest. A grandchild scored 51% and all the others choices scored well below.


So grandchildren matter to us. On the other hand, if one of the options was being reincarnated as Peyton Manning or Beyonce – it might have been a toss-up.


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