About this project

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.

Joani Crosson of Thetford, Vt., cares for her grandson while his parents work. I interviewed Joani's family for this project. Photo by Jennifer Hauck for The Grandparent Effect.
Joani Crosson of Thetford, Vermont, cares for her grandson while his parents work. I interviewed Joani’s family for this project. Photo by Jennifer Hauck for The Grandparent Effect.

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, a stepmother, and a daughter. I’m lucky: I was a grandchild until my late 30s. 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 on this site.

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.

My mother's parents, Henry and Dorothy Fischer, who lived to 94 and 93, respectively. I miss them every day.
My mother’s parents, Henry and Dorothy Fischer, who lived to 93 and 94, respectively. I miss them every day.

Over many years, I’ve talked to hundreds of 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.

Want to join the discussion I’m having with readers around the country? It’s on Facebook.

Welcome, enjoy, and let me know what you think!