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What is a Grandmother Really? How Modern Grandmas Are Breaking the Mold (Video)

By Margaret Manning March 12, 2016 Family

Few roles are as important – or misunderstood – as the role of grandmother. It’s almost as if, once your first grandchild arrives, you are supposed to turn into a baby-sitting, apple-pie-making, scarf-knitting machine. At least, that’s how it feels for many women.

Don’t get me wrong. As grandmas, we love our grandkids. We love spending time with them and seeing their world through their eyes. We enjoy spoiling them from time to time. We definitely appreciate the fact that we have an opportunity to give their parents a break once in a while. But, this doesn’t mean that our grandkids are the only things in our lives. Far from it!

To get some perspective on the changing role of grandmothers, I recently interviewed Donne Davis. Donne is the founder of the GaGa Sisterhood, a social network for grandmas. As a result, she has a lot of insights to share on what being a grandma means today. I hope that you enjoy the show!

The Role of Grandmother is Changing

Donne explains that grandmothers used to have a very specific role in the family. They were expected to babysit, bake cakes and be a mentor to their grandkids. They were not expected to have career or personal ambitions outside of the family.

In just a few decades, things have changed dramatically. For starters, parents are now much more self-sufficient. In addition, families tend to be more geographically dispersed than they once were. This means that grandmas may not have constant contact with their grandkids.

I would add to this that older women are challenging aging stereotypes, more generally. Many of us are not content to “age gracefully.” We don’t want to be quiet. With 3 decades ahead of us, we want to get as much out of this amazing life as we can. This means balancing our family commitments with our passions and goals.

Modern Grandmas Are More than Babysitters

Even the way that we interact with our grandkids is changing. In general, our generation is more educated than our grandparents were. We have opinions about the world and want to impart our wisdom to our grandkids.

For the most part, this is a good thing. After all, kids usually thrive in an environment where they are exposed to different perspectives. At the same time, the fact that we are not just babysitters can create unwanted conflict – especially if we try to impose our morals and standards on our grandkids.

This is why it is so important that modern grandmas learn to communicate with (and take the lead from) our children. After all, they are doing the best they can. We need to balance our desire to lead with our ability to follow. It’s a delicate line to walk – but, we are up to the challenge!

Modern Families Are Complicated and We Need to Help Each Other

In today’s frantic world, everyone is doing their best. Our grandkids parents are balancing work and family commitments. More than ever, grandmas are doing the same. Even if we are no longer working full time, we still have busy schedules.

As a result, it is so important that family members are honest and gentle with each other. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is so true when it comes to family relationships!

At the end of the day, even though the role of grandmother is changing, it has never been more important. We just need to make an effort to understand each other.

Do you think that the role of grandmother has changed since you were a child? In which ways? Do you think that these changes have been mostly positive? Or, have there been unintended negative consequences of the move towards women being “modern grandmas?”

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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