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Happy Grandparents’ Day!

If you’ve read my book, The Grandparent Economy, you know that my interest in the lifestage is both personal and professional. I was raised by my paternal grandparents from infancy. It was something of a novelty in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Today that is a much different story.

The origin of Grandparents’ Day

In the 70’s, Marian McQuade was a champion of intergenerational relationships, urging young people to adopt a grandparent and to have older adults in their lives. She encouraged West Virginia’s Governor to recognize an annual Grandparents’ Day. In 1973, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia introduced a resolution to the senate to make Grandparents’ Day a national holiday. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation making the first Sunday of September after Labor Day “National Grandparents’ Day.”

This proclamation cites the purpose, “”…to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”.

Grandparents Today

Nearly one third of all families in the US are grandparent households, largely due to the aging of the huge Baby Boomer population. Baby Boomers are a new breed of grandparents – more engaged and financially involved – maintaining their “helicopter” status well into grandparenthood.

The other side of the grandparent experience are grandparents who step in to raise their grandchildren, just as mine did more than 50 years ago. More than 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. This transcends race and income. The growing numbers are largely due to extended deployments of parents, death of parents, and the opioid crisis. As the opioid crisis affects multiple generations, we are seeing an increase in great grandparents as the primary caregivers for children as well. Many older adults do this at the expense of their own health and retirement savings.

In May of 2017, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” with the support from 40 older adult and advocacy groups. This act was signed into law in July. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the work of a Federal Advisory Council to provide resources and best practices to support grandparents and other relatives raising children. It’s a great start in providing for the physical and emotional well-being of these special families.

How to Celebrate Grandparents’ Day

I have some thoughts to share from a variety of my favorite organizations.

Bridges Together

In addition to Grandparents’ Day, it’s Intergenerational (IG) Awareness Month – a month set aside to raise awareness about and celebrate the benefits of intergenerational connections. Bridges Together invites you share your stories of intergenerational relationships:

Share the power of intergenerational relationships. Write a 500 word story, create a piece of art (visual or performing) and submit it to the Kraemer IG Story Contest.  The contest is now open and will remain open until Oct. 31.  Cash prizes will be awarded.  Read more and enter now!

Loved1

Do you have a grandparent or great grandparent living away from you and your family?
Loved1 delivers a gift box of thoughtfully curated products that focus on healthy living, quality of life, nutrition, and fun. You receive an email detailing the items in the box and an Engagement Guide to encourage great discussions and interactions with your family member.

GRAND Magazine

GRAND – the digital magazine for living the ageless life – is now available for FREE. If you are a grandparent, it is the ultimate guide to this stage of life. If you know a grandparent who would enjoy GRAND, subscribe for them as a gift! Check out GRAND’s site as well for more excellent information. To get your FREE subscription, click here!

Four Ways You Are Wrong About Boomers

I am very proud to have received this great review from the National Association of Realtors for my book, The Grandparent Economy: How Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap. Following is the blog:

It seems everywhere you turn these days there’s some new diatribe against the generational focus of commentaries on society. It’s boomers attacking millennials attacking boomers… Heck, we even played an April Fool’s joke based on the trend a couple of weeks ago.

As someone who’s always bristled at generational stereotypes, I’m cheering those who are finally agreeing we need to stop playing the millennials vs. boomers card in the media (as no one talks about generation x anymore, that needn’t be halted of course). But as I was working on the upcoming feature for our May/June issue about how brokers are attracting the next generation of real estate pros, I found myself unable to avoid the term “millennial.”

Is your image of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

Are your ideas of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

That’s when I realized it has nothing to do with the terms; it’s the inaccurate stereotypes everyone should be finished with. And that’s why I really liked Lori K. Bitter’s The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc., 2015). Not only is she seeking to help business owners and marketers better understand the boomer generation through the lens of grandparenthood using actual data, but she also busts a fair amount myths about boomers and grandparents in the process. Among them:

  1. Age and aversion to technology: Bitter says if you do an image search on grandparents in Google you’ll likely see “cartoon caricatures of couples with gray buns, sagging bellies and boobs, and canes… In reality, only 20 percent of grandparents are 75 or older.” She also points out that grandparents not only outspend other generations in traditional shopping environments, but they also “are outspending younger consumers two to one online… and they account for one in four mobile transactions.”
  2. Multi-gen housing as a temporary reaction to recession. Bitter, who was raised by her grandparents, points out that humans have been living with several generations under one roof since the beginning of civilization, and in many cultures around the world, it’s more common than it currently is in the United States. But as we become increasingly multicultural, it’s important to examine our biases and look at the facts: 2.7 million grandparents are raising small children on their own, and that doesn’t encompass the many who are sharing the task of raising children with the kids’ biological parents. She also points out that, far from being temporary, the trend will probably grow as people are living longer, and notes that grandfamilies occur in every area of the country and represent all income levels, races, and ethnicities.
  3. Midlife crises. Rather than fearing their advancing age, boomers are becoming less concerned with numbers as they mature. Bitter says this is the beginning of wisdom, or “the centered sense of the timelessness of all things.” She suggests thinking of marketing in the same way you might universal design: If you create something that can be used by anyone, it will be appreciated by everyone.
  4. The “Me Generation.” Bitter shows how the common trope of younger generations being full of themselves goes astray: All young people project that sort of bravado to a certain extent. “The images of self-entitled, self-centered, and materialistic boomers do not sit well, and the majority of those surveyed believe advertisers and reporters frequently get it wrong. From a developmental perspective self-involvement and materialism are features of a striving lifestyle typical of younger adults, which would be accurate for any generation, not just the Baby Boom.”

Though this isn’t a book specifically about real estate, Bitter includes numerous examples of housing communities that are successfully meeting the needs of this new batch of grandparents. And she clearly thinks highly of REALTOR® outreach to consumers: “Has an ad ever brought a tear to your eye? …Fast forward to the recent ads by the National Association of REALTORS® about the ‘American Dream of home ownership’ featuring a grandfather and his grandson. Mature consumers appreciate the art of a story well told.”

Now that’s a stereotype I think we can all live with.

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

 

MediaPost Engage Boomers-The Psychology of Marketing to Grandparents

The Psychology of Marketing to Grandparents

Let’s face it. Psychologist Abraham Maslow never wanted to be a marketer. In his work Toward a Psychology of Being he describes the 13 personality attributes of the self-actualizing person. Often depicted as the top of the pyramid on the Hierarchy of Needs, “Self-actualization” is the realization of one’s full potential, with a focus outside of self. Learn More →

Keep the Holidays Happy for Your Kids and Grandkids

Empty nesters can put a lot of pressure on the holiday season. As former “helicopter parents,” we no longer have day-to-day involvement with (or control over) our adult children and many of us are joining the ranks of grandparents. Short of cutting out our tongues, there are many things we can do to ensure a fun, peaceful holiday visit to create memories for the entire family.

Here are some of my tips from current Allstate blog post. How do you keep the lines of communication open?

Sharing the Road: Grandparents Can Mentor Teen Drivers

Parents and grandparents alike know that “pit of the stomach” feeling when a child grabs the keys and drives away for the first time. It’s both exhilarating to share their freedom and frightening to consider all of the things that could happen when they are behind the wheel.

A new study recently revealed that grandparents are increasingly paying for auto insurance for both children and grandchildren. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows that baby boomers spent $863 million on used cars given as gifts, suggesting that these cars are being purchased for grandchildren drivers. What does this mean for you as you prepare for your grandchildren to hit the road?

Check out these tips from my latest Allstate blog.

Do you have some tips of your own you would share?

Boomer Baby Radio with Barbara Beach

Last week at the AARP Life@50+ event in Los Angeles, I was interviewed by Boomer Baby Radio‘s host Barbara Beach, where we chatted about my role as the new Publisher of GRAND Magazine – and a new grandparent! Listen here.

Were you at AARP @50+ last week? What was your experience there?

Looking At Lucrative Lifestages: Engaging American Grandparents

The recent release of “The MetLife Report on American Grandparents,” by Peter Francese with MetLife Mature Market Institute, reveals the changing face of grandparents in the United States. It also provides a roadmap for companies with products and services for children. Increasingly, grandparents are helping young families financially navigate in this tough economic climate, paying for items essential to day-to-day life, and also looking forward to big-ticket items like tuition, cars, and college.

In 2010, there were an estimated 65 million grandparents in the United States alone; households headed by someone over the age of 45 accounts for 60% of the nation’s income. One in four adults in this country is a grandparent.

Today, a grandparent is the head of almost one in ten households and has a grandchild in residence. In spite of recent economic events, consumer spending in households 55+ has risen faster than any other age category, outpacing inflation. By 2020, projections reveal an increase to 80 million grandparents, one in three adults in the U.S.

Booming Grands: Younger, hipper more diverse grandparents

The majority of today’s grandparents are from the Baby Boomer generation; they appear more youthful, vital and active than grandparents of previous generations. In reality…

Learn More →

My New Role as Publisher of GRAND Magazine

With its latest September/October 7th anniversary issue being sent to subscribers today, GRAND Magazine, the digital magazine for Grandparents and their families, relaunches with a new focus on first-time Grandparents.

I am excited to announce my new role as Publisher of GRAND, as it is linked to my other exciting new role – as a first-time grandparent myself. I very much look forward to working with Christine Crosby, the Editorial Director, and Christine Bettencourt, Managing Editor, at GRAND Magazine. Christine Crosby was at the forefront by launching GRAND as a digital publication in 2007. As Christine has stated, now is the time when digital magazines are coming into their own. It is the direction in which publishing is heading, with its benefits for advertisers of the digital format, such as the multimedia features, and delivering the desirable profile of the digital magazine reader. They have appeal to consumers as a ‘green’ alternative to print, leaving a smaller carbon footprint that will benefit future generations, which is of particular importance to grandparents.

Learn More →