Mr. Grandmom

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Mr. Grandmom

The Baby Boom generation used to warn against trusting anyone over 30. By the 1970s, however, many of them were parents themselves, and moreover, the men of this generation were playing a larger role in the lives of their children than their own fathers had in their lives. In some cases, men stayed at home while their wives worked, a family arrangement popularized in the 1983 movie, Mr. Mom, starring Michael Keaton.

Now, as the first Baby Boomers start turning 60 this year, many of them are well into their grandparenting years. This is spawning a wave of active involvement in the lives of their grandchildren, reversing a trend that developed in the post-war years, when families began moving out to the suburbs.

It turns out that having grandparents in their lives — and especially grandfathers — is good for both kids and parents alike. And, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal,1 more grandfathers than ever before are actively involved in raising and teaching children, often having learned from the experience of being “Mr. Moms.”

A professor of medicine at Yale University began studying stay-at-home fathers in 1981 and has been following them since then. He found that they have a confidence in their ability to take care of children, to teach them, and to understand where they should be developmentally.

The parenting Web site BabyCenter.com recently conducted a survey which showed that 72 percent of families surveyed had grandparents living nearby. Among these families, more than three-fourths of the grandfathers helped care for the children. And, 41 percent said that the grandfathers are just as good as the grandmothers at providing childcare.

Another researcher at Kent State University found that the involvement of grandfathers resulted in children who had fewer social problems, more confidence, and better performance in school. Especially in fatherless homes, grandfathers are highly influential in the lives of children.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News,2 8 percent of all children in the United States live with a grandparent. And the U.S. Census Bureau reports that grandparents are the number one source of childcare for children under the age of five whose mothers work. This number increased from about 16 percent in 1985 to more than 20 percent in 1999. Today, grandparents play an even more important role, as some mothers and fathers are called up by the military.

In part, this trend toward pro-active grandparenting has resulted from a generation of people who have more years to devote to grandparenting...

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