Welcome to The Grandparent Effect

Grandparents are healthier, wealthier, and longer-lived than ever before.

What does this mean for us all?

On this site, I consider the growing importance of grandparents to their children and grandchildren.

I hope to entertain you.

And I hope to turn everything you thought you knew about grandparents upside down.

I’m Olivia Gentile, an author, a journalist, a wife, a mother to a little girl, a stepmother to two young adults, and a daughter to two vigorous 70-somethings. I recently celebrated my 44th birthday.

I’m lucky: I was a grandchild until just five years ago. As a kid, I only knew my mom’s parents casually, but later, when I was in my 20s and they were in their 80s, they became two of the most important people in my life.

I tell our story here.

My mom's parents after my grandfather's retirement in the 1980s. They both lived into their 90s and my 30s.

My mom’s parents, Henry and Dorothy Fischer, who both lived into their 90s. I miss them every day.

My mom’s dad died in 2005, when he was 93 and I was 30.

My mom’s mom survived him by six years—long enough to help me finish my first book, get to know my husband, and hold our newborn girl.

She died in 2011, at age 94. Not long afterwards, I decided to explore the role of the American grandparent by interviewing all kinds of families from coast to coast.

Over four years, I’ve talked with more than 100 families. They’re rich, poor, and in the middle. They’re black, white, Latino, Asian, and mixed. They speak English and every other language you can imagine.

I tell their stories, too.

I also write about the big picture: how, in millions of American families, grandparents are more significant than they were a generation ago, even if their rise has been largely unsung.

I publish letters and photos from readers and excerpts from awesome books.

And of course, I read what other journalists are writing about grandparents, their kids, and their grandkids and link to the best articles I find.

Click here to read my most recent posts. Want to join the discussion I’m having with readers around the country? It’s on Facebook.

Welcome and enjoy!