My image of my grandmother,etched from faded photos, is of asmallish woman wearing a printdress with full apron and sturdyblack shoes. I remember her givingme chocolate-coated peppermintpatties from the pantry. Memoriesof my grandfather are sketchier;interactions were likely short andsolemn. From his armchair or headof the dinner table on Sundays, hecommanded respect and order fromhis grandchildren.
Fast-forward five decades and yousee a grandmother who does yogaand a grandfather who rides a HarleyDavidson motorcycle. Many oftoday’s grandparents are younger (inattitude if not in age), healthier, better
A grand relationship
Baby boomers are bringing their own style to grandparenting
parents and grandparents.
In Canada, 75 per cent of babyboomers (born between 1946 and1964) will be “grandboomers” by theage of 60.
“Grandparents have quite a bigrole in the stability of the family andproviding support resources for theparents,” says Ricardo Sarango, achild and adolescent therapist in theEdmonton area.
Traditionally, grandparents lent
their support indirectly, he says. But
with today’s diverse and rapidly
changing family structures (blended,
extended, immigrant, single-parent
and adoptive-parent families) and
marriages (common-law, multi- or
biracial and same-sex), modern
grandparents can offer a relaxed
and continuous relationship with
their grandchildren and step-
Using the analogy that children
are like tables, Sarango, a family
facilitator, says more legs under the
table make a child more resourceful
and stable. “When extended family is
involved, whether it’s a single aunt,
great-uncle or step-grandparent,
we see an increase in (a child’s)
academic competency and emotional
regulation. They are better able
to express their feelings, manage
their own stressors and develop
While leaning back to let parents
set the rules, grandboomers are
stepping in as teachers, caregivers,
listeners, playmates, confidantes,
Today’s grandparents play a big role in family stability and supporting younger generations.