Dear Grandparenting: My 14-year-old grandson and I got into an interesting discussion I’d like to share. I can’t remember how we got started but here is where we wound up. I said I would rather be his age again, and he argued it is better to be in my age bracket (going on 72), assuming his health was as good as mine is. It is like trading places. Would you make that swap? I bet most grandparents would leap at the chance to take ride back in the time machine 50 years or so to when they were teenagers.
You can probably guess what I was thinking. Instead of bracing myself for the long decline ahead, I would have my whole life in front of me. My grandson thinks the party is over and the world is going to self-destruct. He says my generation will be the last to know what it is like to feel secure. I think that’s crazy talk. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. What is your opinion? Mort Donovan, Lynnwood, Washington
Dear Mort: Your question strikes us as hypothetical food for thought. Agree or disagree, it will get the wheels turning. There’s something to be said for both sides of the equation.
Your grandson’s contention is not without merit. According to numerous public surveys, a majority of Americans believe the American Dream is in now reverse and pulling away. Only grandchildren from privileged families can reasonably expect to equal or surpass the standard of living their parents and grandparents enjoyed. If student debt and economic insecurity isn’t enough, it’s likely grandchildren will have to contend with threats of terrorism and global warming for the foreseeable future. Their inheritance includes a world of uncertainty.
On the other hand, we wonder how many grandparents share your appetite for taking a second whack at youth. While it’s true that grandparents are on the downhill side of their life expectancy, many find that golden years really are golden and don’t want to swap places with anyone. National polling data consistently indicates that older Americans are the happiest of any age group. Grandparents who have lived life to the fullest and have no regrets may decide once is good enough. Likewise we suppose for those who went through life with their glass half empty, or who struggle to get by.
Most of us try to make the best of what’s at hand and leave time machines to the dreamers. Let’s get back to basics. As America’s longest-running advice for grandparents, we pride ourselves on our ability to help keep grandparents young at heart and in the game of life. Pew Research confirmed what we have known all along. In response to an open ended question, more than half of those 65 and older said what they value most about getting older is spending time with their grandchildren.
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GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Big Pappy of Fishkill, N.Y. reports that grandson Alex, 8, “brought the house down” when he was asked to speak at the golden wedding anniversary of Pappy and wife Anne.
“The secret to their long marriage,” began Alex nervously, “is that neither one has died yet.” His grandson never got another word out over the laughter.
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.