If you are a parent, some day you will most likely become a grandparent. Being a grandparent is tons more fun than parenting. You get to enjoy all the cute moments and hand back the kid when they stink or act out! You aren’t responsible for teaching them to behave like human beings. Yet you can enjoy loving them and being loved by them.
However, being a grandparent can be expensive. It is not only possible to spend gobs of money on your little rug rats but also gobs of your time.
Boomers are becoming grandparents by the second. We spoiled our children and we apparently are even more intent on doing so with our grandchildren!
In Huffington Post article Boomers Give New Meaning To Spoiling The Grandkids author Linda Stern reported:
“Roughly 36 percent of the grandparents surveyed by AARP said “spoiling (grand)children by buying them too much” was a part of a grandparent’s financial role.”
Boomers claim to have redefined many aspects of life – from open family dialoge to ways to influence politics, now are they redefining grandparenthood?
My own grandparents (members of the so called ‘silent generation’ who lived through WWI, WWII and the depression) rarely interacted with the grand kids. They tolerated our presence. I only remember staying with them once without parents around. They rarely gave us toys or money.
My parents were somewhat more interactive with their grandchildren (my kids). They drove the 200 mile trip on holidays and birthdays to celebrate with us. They provided Christmas and birthday toys and on occasion provided direct financial aid. They also took the kids (one at a time) each year and entertained them by going to tourist attractions in their area.
Why are we boomers more involved? Why are we spending more on our grandchildren?
Expectations of our children.
In my experience, my kids expect more of me for their kids than I expected of my parents for mine. It never occurred to me to ask Mom or Mom-in-law to come watch my kids. I’ve seen the nieces and my own kids ask for and get babysitting services time after time from a busy working boomer.
We raised our children to expect more involvement.
Some of the boomer generation became what is now know as helicopter parents – always there for the bailout or rescue of their kids – helping them in situations when the kid really should have handled it. We were open and sharing with our children – letting them in on the family experience/family discussion/family decision making. So, it is somewhat natural that they would expect us to be more involved than our own parents were.
We desire a lifeline to the future.
We actively seek to develop and maintain a relationship with our descendents so that our lifeline to the future will remain intact. Who wants to be forgotten?
We want some influence over how our grandchildren are raised.
Boomer grandparents definitely have ideas on what they want their grandchildren to learn and how they want them to behave. Providing babysitting, funding for special projects or education and buying special treats makes us feel that we might have some influence. (Hint, be sure and get the parent’s blessing beforehand though).
Our kids need the help.
With the economy of the last few years, it is often more necessity (than spoiling) for grandparents to help supply living expenses for grandchildren.
It’s just fun!
Seeing the joy of discovery on a child’s face or watching them learn a new skill or develop a new talent is just plain fun, no matter the cost in money or time.
How much are we spending?
Hanah Cho in the Next Avenue article The High Cost of Being a Grandparent reported:
Demographer Peter Francese, who last year collaborated with MetLife Mature Market Institute on a report about the current generation of grandparents, estimates that today’s grandfathers and grandmothers spend, on average, $900 to $1,200 a year on clothes, baby food, furniture and education expenses for their grandkids.
Do the math and you’re talking about $16,200 to $21,600 over a grandchild’s first 18 years.
Among well-to-do grandparents and the 2.7 million grandparents who are the primary caregivers for their grandkids, the price tag is higher — maybe as high as 10 times as much, Francese says.
I drop a bundle each year (both money and time) on my week long Grandma Rie’s Money Camp where I try to help the kids learn about and experience personal finance concepts. It isn’t just about the learning though, it is also about building a relationship with them apart from their parents and it is about having fun and building memories together. This year for instance, I dropped upwards of $250 on entertainment (boat ride, eat outs, amusement park, supplies, books, games and etc) plus the opportunity cost of using our condo instead of renting it out (over $1600 for the week) plus groceries, gasoline and more.
Since we can afford to do so and not jeopardize our own later years, we also give annual financial gifts to children and grand children.
Grandparents can do a lot to save money when indulging their grandchildren, but it still adds up in both time and money costs – but most of us would say “So?” “It’s my grandkid!”
How much do (did) your parents spend on your kids?