You may have noticed that baby boomers who have become grandparents are eschewing the traditional Grandma or Grandpa for other names that don’t immediately conjure images of elderly relatives knitting booties or puttering in the garage.
The first of the baby boomers began reaching retirement age in 2011 and each day from now until 2030, 10,000 American boomers will turn 65. But according to Pew Research Center, the average baby boomer doesn’t consider 65 as old; when surveyed most said old age doesn’t really begin until about 72 and most reported they feel younger than their actual age by about 9 years.
It’s no surprise then to notice youngish grandparents choosing alternative names for themselves; some go for monikers from their own cultural heritage like Bubbe or Opa while others are more creative, inventing a name that’s based on their own name but easier for young children to pronounce. Sometimes, a nickname just sticks and grandparents wind up being Grumpa or Mimi for life.
In some cultures where several generations commonly live under one roof, grandparents have specific names that explain their exact relationship to the children. For example in Southeast Asia, Dadi Amma translates into “your father’s mother”, so children know exactly who they are referring to or addressing.
Whether their name is conventional or something more personal, today’s grandparents are taking an active role in their grandchildren’s lives. Many help with child care, driving, helping coach or cheer for sports and other activities and often go on vacation with their adult children’s family. Seniors are staying active and involved long past retirement age and with that energetic approach to aging, grandparents are naturally choosing names that match their attitude. They don’t feel like old, don’t want to be reminded they are aging and in true boomer style, this is a generation making up their own rules in a changing time.