Changes in society in recent decades have affected the role that grandparents play. More people are lone parents, which can mean that grandparents take on more childcare. Many more mothers have full- or part-time jobs, again increasing the likelihood that grandparents will be asked to take on more childcare duties.
For grandparents above retirement age, we now have different ideas about what they will do with their time: they might be looking forward to having some time to themselves to do their hobbies or travel more.
The typical grandparent?
It would be hard to draw a picture of a typical grandparent because the group is so varied. Out of the grandparents involved in the Grandparenthood project:
- the youngest was 44 and the oldest was 86
- one third were below the age of 60, one third were in their sixties, one third were 70 or older
- 73% were married or had a partner
- overall 30% were working (63% of those under age 60 were working)
- 38% had some grandchildren whose parents had separated
- 24% had step-grandchildren
Source: ONS National Survey
The ideal grandparent?
Even though we know that grandparents are a varied group, research shows that ideas about what grandparents should and shouldn't do are very similar.
88% of people interviewed said that grandparents should not interfere, and 86% said that they should be there for grandchildren.
Source: Interview Study
We are going to take these common themes of not interfering and being there and look at how the ideals we have about being a grandparent match up to real life relationships.