Source: USA TODAY
“Grandma” and “Grandpa” may be the staples of grandparenthood, but many Baby Boomers don’t think those traditional labels sound so “grand.”
An online survey of more than 2,100 new moms conducted in October by the pregnancy and parenting website BabyCenter.com shows that while almost half of their parents go with “Grandma” and “Grandpa,” the rest are split among a variety of monikers.
Many choose a more unique name. Among grandmothers, 41% use an individualized nickname, and 28% of grandfathers do too.
“I think what we are doing as Boomers is trying to sort through all of the language, all of the traditions and all of the possibilities,” says author Michael Gurian, 55, of Spokane, Wash., whose book The Wonder of Aging was published in June. “In doing that, we’re sorting through how to be grandparents and what to be called. We don’t want to be the matriarch and patriarch of old.”
The website Grandparents.com has lists of grandparent names, including celebrity names, traditional names, trendy names and international names.
“That grandparent name is really important to a lot of grandparents,” says site editor Ellen Breslau, of New York City. “This generation more than any generation in the past thinks about the name because this name is reflective of who they are.”
Some Boomers “go into grandparenthood not that excited because they feel like this milestone is going to make them feel old. It does not end up being the case once the baby comes,” she says.
Breslau says she sees “a camp of grandparents who use very traditional grandparent names — ‘Grandma,’ ‘Nana,’ ‘Bubbe,’ ‘Pop-Pop’ and ‘Grandpa.’ Then you’ve got grandparents who choose their name by default, based on what the grandchildren can say.
“But some grandparents “really want to choose something and don’t want to be construed as feeling older. ‘Gigi’ and ‘Mimi’ are very popular. Some people go really off the grid and choose something entirely different.”
That’s exactly what happened with Diana and Russell Horton, both 70, whose first grandchild, granddaughter Elodie, was born last year.
“It turns out grandfatherhood is absolutely terrific — everything it’s cracked up to be,” he says. “But this was the first time out and I was a little queasy about being called ‘Gramps’ or ‘Grandpa’.”
Horton, an actor in Manhattan, picked “Granddude.”
“I’m still a dude,” he says. “I think we should all name ourselves.”
Diana Horton says her husband joked about her being called “Your Highness” and from that she came up with “Yah Yah.”
“I worked with children and I knew repetitive syllables are always fun for them,” she says. “Just call me Yah Yah.”
But there are the traditionalists, such as Debbie Lebeaux, 58, of Shrewsbury, Mass. Her first grandchild, Theo Lebeaux, was born in October to her son Ben and his wife Diana, both 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I’m thrilled to be a grandmother. I think it’s an honorable and wonderful role to have,” she says. “I’m cool with ‘Grandma.’ That works for me. We’ll see what happens.”
Top nicknames for grandparents
1 Grandma 49%
2 Nana 25%
3 Grammy 11%
4 Mimi 6%
5 Nanny 6%
6 Gram 3%
7 Gran 1%
8 Other 41%
1 Grandpa 47%
2 Papa 28%
3 Papaw 9%
4 Pop-Pop 6%
5 Poppy 5%
6 Pop 4%
7 Granddad 4%
8 Gramps 2%
9 Other 28%
Source: BabyCenter survey of more than 2,100 moms