The Grandparent Advantage
BY ADINA WAMBUA
When AnneMarie White was a child, she learned to speak Spanish before learning English at school. Her grandfather was from Spain. Her grandmother, a member of the Cherokee tribe, anchored her to her Native roots by teaching her about her Native culture and heritage. Her grandparents instilled in her a lifelong love of learning and service. The positive influence of her grandparents inspires AnneMarie to continue serving the community in her roles as Generations United GRAND Voice, grandfamily advocate, and grandfamily caregiver. AnneMarie both benefitted from and is continuing to exemplify the Grandparent Advantage.
What is the Grandparent Advantage?
The Grandparent Advantage is the ability to recycle human knowledge, experience, culture, and understanding to benefit future generations. The Grandparent Advantage is essential for supporting strong, healthy families and communities. Acknowledging the critical contributions of older adults in our lives is crucial to creating an interconnected, inclusive, and culturally rich society where each generation’s unique strengths and experiences are celebrated.
“Grandparents care for and educate the young, deepen the culture, and retransmit their knowledge to the younger generation.”
The role of grandparents and other older adults extends far beyond simply being the older generation; they serve as pillars of support, sources of inspiration, and reservoirs of life lessons that can shape the lives of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Through their unique perspective and life journey, grandparents have the power to inspire and help family members in many ways throughout their lives. Grandparents care for and educate the young, deepen the culture, and retransmit their knowledge to the younger generation. Recycling human understanding, experience, and culture from elders to children, repeatedly, generation after generation, builds a culture of caring across generations.
Grandparents Day 2023
Grandparents’ Day was September 10th, and this year, Generations United encouraged people to celebrate Grandparent Advantage. As part of our annual #DoSomethingGrand campaign, we asked people of all ages to share stories, anecdotes, quotes, and photos illustrating the Grandparent Advantage – the valuable role of grandparents, grandchildren, and other older and younger people in our lives and how they serve as an inspiration. We invite you to share your stories on social media using the hashtag #DoSomethingGrand. We plan to share these all month on Generations United’s social media pages.
You can also celebrate the Grandparent Advantage and commit to doing one of the below-mentioned activities with your grandparents, grandfriends, grandchildren, or other loved ones. Remember to take a photo of the activity to share on social media, tag Generations United, and use the hashtag #DoSomethingGrand.
Read a book with your grand friends, grandparents, or grandfamily caregiver.
Take a walk together through your neighborhood or favorite park.
Share family stories of your favorite memories with your family’s history, or look through a family photo album together.
Go for an outing as a family (dinner at a restaurant, to the movies, skating rink, hiking, amusement park, etc.).
Cook a meal together using your favorite family recipe.
Do an arts and crafts activity.
Have a virtual coffee or lunch date.
Participate in an in-person or virtual family game night.
Volunteer together for the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Activities to honor grandparents who have passed away
Gather with family and friends in remembrance to honor those grandparents, grandfriends, or older caregivers who are no longer here. Consider the following activities to amplify their remembrance.
- Light a candle in their memory
- Hold a dinner
- Sing a favorite song
- Plant a tree or seed at a park, family garden, or special location
- Participate in an activity they loved
- Donate to a charity that was meaningful to them
- Fashion a plaque or sign with their favorite saying or quote
Grandparents and older adults are wellsprings of inspiration and support that can positively impact multiple generations within a family and our communities. Their ability to guide, nurture, and share their life’s wisdom creates a legacy long after they are gone. Grandparents Day is just one opportunity to recognize and appreciate the Grandparent Advantage. We encourage people of all ages to embrace and nurture this advantage all year long. Building intergenerational relationships in families and communities can foster deeper connections, mutual respect, and a sense of continuity that enriches the lives of everyone.
Resources for Grandfamilies:
- Grandparents Day Take Action Guide
- Grandfamily Caregiver Tip Sheets
- Grandfacts Facts Sheets
- Tip Sheet- African American Grandfamilies: Helping Children Thrive through Connection to Family and Culture
- Tip Sheet- American Indian & Alaska Native Grandfamilies: Helping Children Thrive Through Connection to Family and Cultural Identity
- Tip Sheet- Latino Grandfamilies: Helping Latino Children Thrive through Connection to Culture and Family
- Fact Sheet: Children Thrive in Grandfamilies