From Baby Boom to Grandparent Boom

Posted on May 18, 2017

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Something happened to boomers when they were too busy running marathons, taking spin classes, and becoming master gardeners to notice: They turned into grandparents. Some astute readers may now be wondering what happened to boomers becoming parents first?  Doesn’t one have to occur before the other?

The truth is that, while one event normally does occur before the other, the experience of such events sometimes does not. Most boomers will tell you that parenting often occurs in a blur, resulting in often having limited or no memory of the experience. Life in the Boomer Lane, herself, can vividly recall every second of every labor and delivery she experienced. Aside from that, the clearest memory of decades as a mother to babies, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children is that of stepping on tiny Lego pieces in her bare feet on an almost daily basis.

LBL, having survived this phase of motherhood with numerous scars on her brain and on the soles of her feet, has now, along with many other boomers, successfully transitioned into the Joyful Land of Grandparenthood.  According to AARP Bulletin, she is joined by 70 million fellow oldsters, a 24 percent increase since 2001.

AARP reports that “of all adults over 30, more than 1 in 3 were grandparents as of 2014.”  LBL wants to know who these folks are who became grandparents at age 30,  and thus seriously skewed the results.  Age 30 is the age at which most people have been successfully toilet trained and are in the process of moving out of their parents’ basements.

More realistic would be to start the survey at age 45 or even 50, in which case a much higher percentage of the target population would be grandparents.  LBL and her friends didn’t become grandparents until at least age 60.  LBL’s eldest has calculated that, if his daughters follow in his footsteps, he will be closing in on 80 before he is a grandparent.  LBL has advised him to eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, and tell his daughters to lower their marital standards.

Being the grandchild of a boomer, especially an older boomer, has its perks.  The AARP article points out that 25% of grandparents have spent more than $1000 in the past year on their grandchildren. LBL notes that the article didn’t clarify whether this amount was in toto or for each individual grandchild.  She, herself, is afraid to add up the amount she has spent, since, in addition to actual gifts and vacations, she has to add travel expenses and snacks on the numerous planes, trains, buses, and cars she has travelled in, in order to visit the offspring of her offspring.  She is fairly certain that the snacks, alone, would add up to about $1000.

Certain companies selling children’s clothing, accessories, and equipment learned when LBL became a grandparent.  Catalogues started arriving with alarming regularity, filled with uber-expensive, luxury items that few parents would ever actually buy their child.  For an extra fee, most items, including toys, would include personalization. This would ensure that nothing could ever be passed down to a sibling. Each grandchild deserved his or her own designer goods.

The AARP articled ends with a quote from Barbara Graham, grandparents.com columnist: “My mother loved my son, but there was nothing like the level of obsession my friends and I have for our grandchildren.”

It seems that grandparenting, like every other activity boomers engage in, must be done to the max.  

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