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Baby Boomer Grandparents

June 7, 2016  | 
Baby Boomer Grandparents  by Clare Piro

{4:18 minutes to read} As Lesley Stahl was making the rounds on various talk shows, promoting her new book, Becoming Grandma, the Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting, I learned that the omnipresent Boomer generation has once again made its presence known and adopted its own version of being a grandparent.

I was then inspired to do a little research—admittedly over the internet, so I am not attesting to complete accuracy. From my experience, though, what I found seems to be on point.

  • Nearly 60% of the grandparent population are baby boomers.
  • The average age of grandparents is 48.
  • The vast majority of grandparents are active online and a majority are still employed.
    Grandparents control a good amount of the wealth in the country and are generous in supporting their adult children and grandchildren.
  • While only 13% are the primary caregivers, 72% take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis.

This is in line with both my personal experience and mediation practice. When I look at my friends and family members who are grandparents, I certainly don’t see the stereotypical image of a retired white-haired couple, who spend their time at home waiting for visits from the grandkids. I see active, vibrant people who look a lot younger than they are and enjoy being called variations of grandma and grandpa. They cherish the time with their grandchildren and play a vital role in their lives. They enrich the lives of not just their grandchildren, but their children’s and their own lives as well.

When dealing with divorce, we naturally tend to focus on the negative aspects of ex in-laws since they are more prevalent. But looking at the various permutations of family that happen after divorce, one potentially positive aspect can be found in the multitude of grandparents. It is becoming more and more common, as in my family, that children have 3 or 4 grandfathers and grandmothers who all love them and make an effort to be a part of their lives.

In mediation, I see clients turn to grandparents

  • as caregivers,
  • as a place for a newly divorced child to live,
  • to pay for college, and
  • to provide financial support.

Even if the clients don’t mention grandparents during the mediation, I do when I ask if the clients agree that, in the unlikely death of one of them, access between the children and the deceased parent’s family would be encouraged. Unless there is something very negative going on, the answer is always “Yes.” Even in contentious cases, most parents express a continuing relationship between the children and the “other” grandparents/extended family as a positive thing.

There is also the effect that a divorced child’s grandparents can have on the child’s siblings from a second marriage. It was before my time with my husband, but I understand that when his son’s mother remarried and had another son, not only did my husband take that child out while he was visiting his son, but his parents did as well, taking both children to lunch, or the zoo, or park. In fact, my mother-in-law left a bequest to her grandson’s brother, which was thoughtful and so meaningful to him.

As comfortable as the stereotypical image that some of us grew up with is, the new version of grandparents will be equally positive to today’s children of divorce.


Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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