Group Working to Reimagine Grandparenthood

What do you picture when you hear “grandparent”? Chances are the American Grandparents Association wants to change that.

Baby Boomers are becoming grandparents, and they don’t much like how they appear in print.

That’s according to the American Grandparents Association (AGA), which is partnering up with Peek-A-Boo Publishing Group to update how its members are portrayed. The organization—after surveying 2,700 of its members—is hoping to reverse outdated stereotypes while encouraging grandparents to read to their progeny.

“We would like grandparents to look the way people look,” said Ellen Breslau, editor-in-chief of AGA’s content site

That means less of the white-haired, spectacled nannies or crotchety grandpas of old, she said. The push for a more accurate portrayal of a grandparent came from members. They want to see their multicultural, multiethnic, and active generation reflected accurately.

“Typically, grandparents are shown in children’s picture books as old, gray-haired women sporting a bun and glasses; or balding, stooped men with moth-eaten cardigans,” said AGA Chairman and CEO Steve Leber in a press release. “That simply is not what grandparents look like in 2016. There are 72 million grandparents in the U.S., and the average age of a first-time grandparent is 48. It is time we reflect the modern, boomer grandparent.”

To that end, AGA is launching a book club that highlights titles more reflective of modern grandparents on its website and plans to roll out its first original book on September 11, which is National Grandparent’s Day.

The second prong of AGA’s strategy is encouraging members to read to their grandchildren. There is plenty of data that suggests children benefit from quiet time with their grandparents.

“Reading to children is an excellent activity; it also creates a bond with the grandparent,” she said.

Breslau knows firsthand. Her daughter launched a book club with Breslau’s mother. The two would read the same book and then discuss it over the phone.

And children often turn to grandparents for help with issues they’re not comfortable bringing up to their parents, said Breslau, like bullying.

Changing the perception of grandparents, from an elderly person rocking slowly back-and-forth on a porch, to a more modern perception will take time, Breslau admitted. But AGA is committed to starting small and building on up.

“You do have this boomer generation cresting now,” she said. “These are people who grew up in the ‘60s and grew up with rock ‘n’ roll. This is a moment in time when things have shifted in time.”


Derrick Perkins

By Derrick Perkins

Derrick Perkins is an associate editor at Associations Now. In his career as a reporter, editor, and photographer, he has covered communities in New England and Virginia as well as the Defense Department. MORE

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