Several years ago, I reunited with some of my old high school friends. The heartthrob and biggest flirt of our crowd was the first of us to become a grandparent. We middle-aged girls couldn’t quit giggling like teenagers when his grandchild called him Bopa! The whole thing was hysterical to us!
Flash forward and now almost all of us are grandparents – myself included.
We’re not only used to the idea by now, but true to our roots, we are determined to reinvent ourselves and be the grooviest, hippest, most involved, and greatest grandparents ever. We’re embracing our new role with the same excited enthusiasm we once had for macramé plant hangers and bell bottom jeans.
So exactly how are we baby boomers different than our grandparents and how are we finding blessed baby boomer bliss through our grandchildren?
We’re More Active
If you haven’t noticed, our generation of hula hoops and tie dye isn’t exactly taking old age lying down. Gray haired baby boomers can be seen pedaling bikes uphill, kayaking, lacing up sneakers and heading to the gym, zip lining, scuba diving, and shooting jump shots.
My grandchildren, ages 7, 5, and 4, are keeping me young and in shape and I’m loving every minute! I’m jumping on the backyard trampoline, playing volleyball, teaching them how to play tennis, and in general, my grandkids keep me running in circles.
Heck, they are better than having my own personal fitness trainer!
They not only keep me physically active, but mentally active too. Their silliness, creativity, and enthusiasm as they discover the world are contagious. And I know that’s good for me.
We Don’t Believe in a Generation Gap
Our relationship with our children was different than the previous generation. Haven’t we shared Facebook likes and Tweets with our kids?
Now our grandkids are introducing us to a whole new world filled with new ideas and possibilities.
K.C. Summers in an article, Grandparenting the Baby Boomer Way, published this month in the The Washington Post, put it well. She wrote: “Becoming a grandparent for the first time is like revisiting an exotic country that you loved long ago, only to find that everything’s changed — the layout, the customs, even the language. The experience is just as wonderful as ever, but it takes a while to get your bearings.”
As she pointed out in the article, we boomers are enthralled and embracing all the new gadgets like diapers with indicator strips that tell you if the baby’s peed or not, car seats that click into place, then morph into strollers with cup holders, and even the Snotsucker, a simple Swedish invention that takes infant nostril unclogging to a whole new level.
As they get older, our grandkids keep us up-to-date with all the new cartoons on Netflix, Disney movies, and the latest video games.
Aren’t we boomers accused of being self-centered? Of refusing to grow up? Maybe we connect with our adorable grandbabies and grandchildren on that level.
At any rate, we’re not about to be left behind. We’re not even sure what exactly “generation gap” means.
We are Gaga for our Grandchildren
As you can tell from my author’s Facebook page, where photos of my grandkids are proudly displayed on a regular basis, we boomers are blotto about our grandchildren.
Yes, our grandparents loved us, but they didn’t seem to be quite as obsessed as we boomers are today with our grandchildren.
I’m not sure why that is the case. Perhaps because many of us were working while we were raising our own kids in a world where we were trying to have it all. The freedom to spend quality time and be playful with our grandkids feels luxurious.
Or maybe with the staggering divorce rates today, the new Millennials, who think of their parents as best friends, need our help and we are more than happy to provide it.
At any rate, baby boomer grandparents are more engaged than their predecessors.
“The boomer generation is cresting, their kids are having kids, and they want to be involved,” says Ellen Breslau, editor in chief of the popular website Grandparents.com. “It’s a two-way street: The kids keep the grandparents young, and the grandparents can share their wisdom and learning. It’s a very symbiotic relationship between the two, in a way that’s very different from their relationship with their own kids.”
We are Conscious Grandparents
“Baby boomers were the first generation to approach parenting in a conscious way,” Barbara Graham a self-described “child of the 60s,” Grandma, and writer of a column for Grandparents.com says. “Now we are trying to be conscious grandparents.”
Graham offers guidelines for grandparents that include letting go of all our expectations, abiding by the rules of new parents, and a warning to “seal your lips.” We are an outspoken bunch, but Graham took her cue from writer Anne Roiphe in an essay from Eye of My Heart, a collection of essays about the pleasures and perils of being a grandmother edited by Graham. Roiphe wrote: “Not speaking your mind is the number one commandment for would-be beloved grandparents. Silence on certain issues is not just golden; it’s essential.”
So we boomers try and shut up and respect our children wishes. Hopefully, that makes us less judgmental and less likely to ask annoying questions such as, “Have you started feeding the baby solid food yet?” Or to make a critical remark about our child’s decision to not circumcise their son.
Those are a few ways I think we boomers are paving new roads as grandparents. Agree? Disagree? How do you think boomers are different than previous generations of grandparents? I’d love to hear. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net