Once we become parents, suddenly our parents’ journey with us and the trials and tribulations they went through truly become clear. It’s amazing how some of the pieces of advice they gave to us growing up make sense once you’re a mother.
In a generation where we face cultural stigma, racism and cultural bias, grandparents are important now more than ever as they can help provide our kids with an empowering sense of identity and history. In doing so, they provide our children with the tools they may lean on to help embrace who they are when situations challenge their identity.
Canada’s population of seniors is growing – and will continue to grow quickly in the years to come. There are over 5.9 million Canadians over the age of 65, representing 16.9% of Canada’s total population,[i] and this number is expected to increase to about 10 million by 2036.[ii] Despite the increasing proportion of seniors in Canadian society, reports show that younger Canadians harbour ageist sentiments towards their senior counterparts.[iii] In 2014, one-in-five (21%) Canadians said that older Canadians are a burden on society.[iv]
In 2017, a poll of Canadian adults was conducted to determine if stigma still exists when it comes to seniors’ status as a “burden,” and lower perceived value to society compared to younger citizens.
But here is why our seniors are more important now than ever:
- Grandparents provide a connection to family roots
Grandparents enrich their grandchildren’s lives. Some people never get to experience the bond between a grandparent and a grandchild. But those that have almost always cherish it. If your child has an opportunity to experience that bond, encourage and support it.
- Seniors are committed to giving back in meaningful ways
Many of our nanis, dadis, dadus and nanus often go to the local mandhir or mosque or local community centre often to give back. It not only gives them a sense of community and sense of contribution but a way for kids to learn from their actions as well. Seniors often volunteer their time in various capacities and it’s important for kids to see this as well. In fact, over three quarters (78%) of Canadian seniors report volunteering their time to a worthy cause (e.g., charity, hospital, community group, etc.) at some point, but only 63% of Canadians recognize that support.[v]
They will come back with stories to share with little ones and even an opportunity to serve as role models in the community.
- Grandparents are wonderful advisors
Your parents and in-laws usually have the best intentions. Don’t forget that your parents and in-laws are most likely genuinely excited to be part of your new child’s life. It’s important to remember that any advice, no matter how well or how poorly it’s delivered, comes from a place of love. In fact, according to statistics younger generations of Canadians view guidance and advice (29%) from the senior in their life as more meaningful than cash or financial support (24%).[vi] When reflecting on the best piece of advice from seniors, recent report results, paint a positive picture. Most popular advice included words of encouragement to live life to the fullest and be happy; the value of family; and the importance of being smart with money.[vii]
- Grandparents are great support for kids and family
How many times have you asked your mom or dad to take care of your child since he or she was born? How often have they been there to take over from the nanny or pick up at daycare or school? Even when it’s nani vs. nanny, nani will usually win out every time. Most elders are always there and are more than happy to help out in a crisis situation. Our kids love their nani and dadi and love to spend time with them any chance they get.
Recent report data reflects this experience. 29% of Canadian seniors report helping a younger friend or family member with childcare within the last week, while only 22% of Canadians report that assistance.[viii] 19% of millennials report receiving childcare support from the senior in their life in the past week, compared with 24% of sandwich generation members.[ix] Of seniors who provided child care support in the last six months, 19% are watching these children for a full day, and another 19% are watching them for a half-day. [x]
- Grandparents have a wealth of history to share
Our elders have so much history to share with their grandchildren and us. You remember hearing their stories of their forefathers fighting wars, at the partition or during political unrest. Some of our elders have also history in other parts of the world where their work may have taken them, or interesting history from their own grandparents to share.
What role do grandparents play in your child’s life? Why do you value them in your family and how do you ensure they are cared for? Share your comments below!
Zoomer Magazine is hosting a contest for seniors who give back to their friends and families. Head over to www.everythingzoomer.com/loveyourage/ to help narrow down the winners!
This article has been sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur, but the opinions shared are my own.
[i] Statistics Canada. Age and sex, and type of dwelling data: Key results from the 2016 Census. Available online at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/170503/dq170503a-eng.htm. Accessed on May 18, 2017.
[ii] Statistics Canada. Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-520-x/2010001/aftertoc-aprestdm1-eng.htm
[iii] Revera. Revera Report on Ageism. Available online at: http://www.reveraliving.com/revera/files/b2/b20be7d4-4d3b-4442-9597-28473f13b061.pdf Accessed on May 18, 2017.
[iv] Revera. Revera Report on Ageism. Available online at: http://www.reveraliving.com/revera/files/b2/b20be7d4-4d3b-4442-9597-28473f13b061.pdf Accessed on May 18, 2017.
[v] Google survey – W2-06A, 06B: VOLUNTEERING
[vi] Google survey – W2-07: MEANINGFUL ADVICE
[vii] Google survey – W3-Q5: BEST ADVICE
[viii] Google survey – W2-02A, 02B: CHILD CARE
[ix] Google survey – W2-02A: CHILD CARE
[x] Google survey – W3-01: CHILD CARE LENGTH
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