Since I never did well at Trivial Pursuit, what I am about to tell you doesn’t bother me at all. The traditional role of the grandparent dispensing advice to their children’s children is disappearing. For centuries grandchildren turned to their grandparents for advice on everything. Not anymore. So I’m off the hook. It looks like I won’t be on the spot to cough up information for my future grandchildren.
The Huffington Post Over-50 section has a story about a British company that conducted a survey of 1500 grandparents. In it, almost two-thirds of the grandparents reported that their traditional role is being usurped by Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube.
The survey showed that less than one in four grandparents has been approached for advice on domestic matters such as sewing, laundry, or even family recipes. Only one in five grandparents said they had ever been asked by their grandkids how to boil an egg.
Now for the real disappointment. A surprisingly low number of grandparents had ever been asked “What was it like when you were young?” Children today have the Internet to learn all that.
Most grandparents expected to play the role of counselor, adviser, expert, and historian. In most cases, it’s quite the reverse: it’s the grandchildren who are dispensing information to the grandparents. By the age of two, American kids are already interacting with some sort of a computer. By the time the’re five, they are on the computer all the time.
Don’t give up all hope for the role of a grandparent. Another study, by the University of Oxford of 1500 children, showed that those grandchildren who were close to their grandparents had less emotional and behavior challenges. The role of the grandparent may be more important than ever, especially since one in ten children in the United Sates are now living with their grandparents.