A couple of years ago, I tried to dispel these five misconceptions about contemporary grandparents. Here are more stereotypes with little basis in fact.
1. Grandparents are frail.
According to recent research by sociologists Rachel Margolis and Laura Wright, Americans typically spend the vast majority of their grandparenting years in good, very good, or excellent health.
These days, an American woman can expect to spend about 19 years as a healthy grandmother, while an American man can expect about 16 years as a healthy grandfather. For both genders, that’s an increase of about three years over what grandparents in the 1990s could expect.
However, both women and men in this country can also expect to spend an additional six years of grandparenthood in mediocre or poor health, according to Margolis and Wright.
Even more recently, in a chapter of Grandparenting Practices Around the World, Margolis and another colleague, Bruno Arpino, reported that more than 70 percent of American grandparents ages 50 to 69 are in good health or better.
2. Grandparents are retired.
In the United States, grandparenthood typically precedes retirement by at least five years, according to recent research by sociologists Thomas Leopold and Jan Kopek.
That’s partly because Americans tend to become grandparents relatively young; most parents here welcome their first grandchild by age 55.
About 55 percent of American grandfathers in their 50s and 60s work, as do about 45 percent of American grandmothers in that age group, according to Margolis and Arpino.
3. Grandparents and technology don’t mix.
The vast majority of older Americans, most of whom are grandparents, are enthusiastic adopters of modern technology.
As of 2016, more than 80 percent of Americans in their 50s used the Internet, according to the Pew Research Center, along with nearly as many Americans in their 60s and more than 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 70 and 87. Like their younger counterparts, most older Internet users go online at least several times a day, Pew researchers found.
Also in 2016, most 50-somethings had smart phones, while nearly half of 60-somethings and one-quarter of 70- and 80-somethings did.