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 132

This issue:

Grandparent Stereotypes, Part 2


Insist on the grandparent image and name you want.


The words we choose can make a huge difference. Our names have a lot of connotations as well. We all have heard some pretty dreadful names. Jay Leno has great fun with wedding announcements with funny last name combinations. If you are or become a grandparent, you can choose a name, or someone will choose one for you. In books, movies, and on television, grandparent stereotypes are pretty dated. Get out your shawl and cane. Energetic grandparents might even bake cookies, fish, or garden. (They rarely have jobs.)

If you are comfortable with grandma or grandpa or a variation of them, fine. But be forewarned that these names tends to have baggage and may result in you feeling older and/or people treating you like you are older. As one book title put it, Funny, you don't look like a grandmother.

So what's the alternative? Just using your first name loses the respect and the distinction that this is a defined relationship and a special relationship. You can choose a name you like and ask the children and parents to use that name. That keeps the distinction of the name being unique to your grandparent role. If you never cared for your name or nickname, this is an opportunity to choose one you like.

Some of the options include:

  • ~gran or nan (the shorter name connotes more action)
  • ~an ethnic term, e.g., Nana, Bubbe, Zede
  • ~your middle name
  • ~your baptism or bar/bat mitzvah name
  • ~any hero or character you have always admired


If you would civilize man, begin with his grandmother.

~Victor Hugo

If you're afraid and shy
She'll brush away your fears,
And if you start to cry
She'll kiss away your tears.

~excerpt from The Grandparents Song


Grandmother started to brag, "Did I tell you about the cutest thing my granddaughter said?" Her friend cut her short with, "Before you start, I warn you that I insist on equal time--and I have twelve grandchildren."

Mother to daughter: "Every time you disobey, I get another grey hair." Her daughter replied, "Gee Mom, so it was you that gave grandma her grey hair."

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