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Friday, December 11, 2009
THE TIES THAT BIND: GRANDMOTHERS SEEN AS BEDROCK OF CARING, NEW NATIONWIDE SURVEY
Nana Occasionally Spoils, Crosses Swords with Parents, Americans Say
SUMMER SHADE, Kentucky (Dec. 9, 2009) – As extended families gather for the holidays, what do Americans really think of grandma?
Overwhelmingly, they perceive her as caring – and just as overwhelmingly, they reject any characterization of the grandmother/grandchild relationship as “distant.” At the same time, they acknowledge that nana is prone to spoiling her grandchildren and admit that parents and grandparents don’t always see eye to eye.
Those are the principal findings of a new nationwide survey conducted in late November by TheNanaBlogs (www.thenanablogs.com), the definitive resource for the “Nana Generation.” In association with Chicago market researcher Synovate, TheNanaBlogs asked 1,000 Americans, a cross-section of the population: ““Which of the following describes a typical grandmother/grandchild relationship?”
Here’s the high-level breakdown among total respondents:
o Cares deeply about the grandchild - 81 percent
o Spoils the grandchild – 56 percent
o Disagrees with the parent from time to time about child issues – 40 percent
o Favors one grandchild over another – 8.5 percent
o Distant from the child – 3 percent
o None of these – 7 percent
TheNanaBlogs is a creation of Teresa Bell Kindred, a retired high school history teacher, author, magazine columnist, 53- year-old mom of five and proud nana of one granddaughter (featured in her nanablog, www.NanaHood.com).
While “caring deeply” was the top choice across all age brackets, younger respondents weren’t quite as gung-ho as their elders – in a sense, reflecting a perception gap between grandchildren and grandparents. Some 87 percent of those 65 and over selected “caring” as their top choice, but just 77 percent of those 18-24 did so – the lowest among all age groups.
Men and women cited “caring” in equal numbers (81 percent) but marital status proved a point of departure: 84 percent of married respondents opted for the “caring” option, against 78 percent of unmarrieds. Interestingly, among households with children, more households without children referenced “caring” (82 percent) than those with (80.5 percent).
On a regional basis, perceptions of caring were highest in the Midwest (83.5 percent) and lowest in the West (76 percent). All income groups held at around 83 percent, save those earning less than $25K, at 75 percent – perhaps indicative of a younger population (grandchildren themselves).
“These findings are heartening but they’re also instructive,” Kindred said. “While our survey affirms that grandmothers and their grandchildren are close emotionally, many don’t see each other as often as they’d like – certainly not as often as nanas would like. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever for families to communicate via technology… and it’s incumbent upon grandparents to get comfortable with social networks. That’s where our grandchildren play, and we ought to connect with them every chance we get.”
Caring Taken to Extremes?
If spoiling isn’t exactly caring taken to extremes, it did prove the second most popular perception. Men were slightly more likely to cite “spoiling” than women (57 percent to 55 percent). Moving up the age scale, the grandparents’ bracket (65+) was least likely by far to name spoiling (just 49 percent) while the ostensible witnesses to nana’s indulgence (those aged 18-24 and 25-34) referenced it in big numbers -- 60.5 percent and 64 percent, respectively.
Does spoiling fill an income gap? TheNanaBlogs survey revealed wide variation based on employment status: 60 percent of those employed fulltime cited “spoiling,” against 45 percent of part-time workers and 49 percent of retirees. Those in the middle of the income spectrum referenced spoiling more than those at the top and bottom (60 percent vs. 54 percent).
Among the survey’s other findings:
o Who’s the Boss? In terms of generational conflict, the study exposed a small gender gap – 38 percent by men, 42 percent by women – and a much wider variation based on age. Perhaps suggesting that disputes are in the eye of the beholder, those aged 25-34 were least likely to see nanas and parents at odds (31 percent), the sandwich generation most likely (45 percent), and those 65 and over mostly in the middle, at 41.5 percent. Grandparental conflict appears to be more of an issue in the Midwest (45 percent) and relatively less so in the Northeast (35.5 percent). Similarly, it’s a bigger concern with whites than nonwhites (42 percent to 32 percent).
o Playing Favorites. On the matter of “nana likes you best,” the genders split a bit – 10 percent of men agreed, against 7 percent of women. Once again, age matters: 12 percent of the youngest respondents cited favoritism, versus 6 percent of those 45-54 and 7 percent of those 65 and up. In a possible allusion to the tribulations of divorce, twice as many of those who aren’t married saw nana doting on one grandkid more than others (12 percent, to 6 percent of marrieds). That difference applied to nonwhites (13 percent, to 7 percent of whites) and to the unemployed (15 percent -- nearly twice the rest of the population).
TheNanaBlogs.com/Synovate survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. For a full copy of the survey results and a graphic presentation of top-line data, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
TheNanaBlogs.com is a new site dedicated to turning nanas, grandmas, memas (and moms) into bloggers. The site provides them with the space and the technology to begin blogging. Nanablogs offer grandparents a voice, a place to share thoughts, a place to brag about grandkids – and a new way to connect with family. Like its sister site, NanaHood.com, TheNanaBlogs.com is a creation of Teresa Bell Kindred. Teresa is a wife, mom, author, and proud nanablogger. Sign up now to get started.
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