The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 131

This issue:

Grandparent Stereotypes


Insist on the grandparent image you want, not popular stereotypes.


Have you ever wanted to write a book? Here’s your chance to write a children’s book about grandparents. First, choose the main characters.

Grandmother is (check all that apply):

  • wearing a big straw hat while gardening
  • cooking
  • offering cookies and milk
  • sitting in a rocking chair
  • dressed in old world clothes
  • cute, chubby, a perfect match for the Pillsbury Doughboy
  • dumpy and stooped over
  • looks like she is one step away from a nursing home
  • has a mustache (just kidding)

You get the idea. Grandparents can be as young as their late thirties but the stereotypes often portray them as barely able to walk. While Dr. Ruth would probably be a wonderful grandparent, Dr. Ruth Talks About Grandparents perpetuates dottering stereotypes. No wonder so many grandparents think “I’m too young to be a granny.” What grandparents want to read ageist books to their grandchildren?

In fairness, there are some books that give grandparents a positive image. In The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma’s, grandma is a little stereotyped, offering the cubs special honey nut cookies and milk and feeding the birds. Grandpa, however, picks up both bear cubs and their baggage and carries them upstairs to their room. He teaches them how to make a ship in a bottle, takes them fishing, has a fish fry, and teaches them how to use a yoyo. They all go to grandma and grandpa's weekly Friday night square dance.

To be a youthful grandparent (now or perhaps some day in the future) be aware of the stereotypes and refuse to subscribe to them. The next issue will have more suggestions.


The very fact that you don’t look or act or feel like the grandparents of even a generation ago does not mean that you are less, but that you are more—in effect, an evolved form of grandparents, primed to do a bigger and more challenging job than any group before you.

~Arthur Kornhaber


"It’s impossible for your generation to really understand mine, Grandma Flo. We grew up in different worlds! Today we have TV, space travel, nuclear energy, high-speed computers…" "You’re right, Treggie, we didn’t have those things when we were young… So we had to invent most of them."

~Flo & Friends cartoon by Campbell Bigel

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