Following the two major political conventions, major pundits boiled down the election to Voting for Grandma (Hillary) or Voting for Stupid (their words not mine). The implication of grandmother is of course a negative one. When we think of grandma, we think old and slow and not fit for office. Even in 2014, when Chelsea gave birth to her daughter, people wondered whether Hillary could balance being a president and being a grandmother.
Did anyone mention that the Donald is a grandfather many times over? There have been plenty of presidents who were grandfathers, yet, the questions posed to Hillary were never posed to them. Age must define genders differently.
The negative implications extend beyond the typical stereotypes we associate with growing older. Princeton University researchers have uncovered what they call "Prescriptive Prejudice," other beliefs younger people have about older adults. I write about them in my Caring.com blog.
Succession, the idea that older adults should move aside from high-paying jobs and prominent social roles to make way for younger people.
Identity, the idea that older people should not attempt to act younger than they are.
Consumption, the idea that seniors should not consume so many scarce resources, such as healthcare.
Against that backdrop, it's time to consider that there is a new face of grandparents today. First of all more than half of grandparents today are not senior citizens. Most are still working. Our eldest citizens have graduated to being great grandparents.
The nature of grand-parenting has changed to with long-distance relationships, blended families, step-grandparents, foster grandparents, etc. There are 2.4 million grandparents raising their grandchildren.
So there must be a lot of inherently good things that come from being a good grandparent (not all grandparents are!); great integrity, good values, empathy, leadership.
The website Sixty+Me lists some personality traits of successful grandparents. Consider these if you have to run a country: Patience, Generosity, Unconditional Love, Empathy, Healthy Detachment, Being Presence.
That's not a bad list. Also consider that people who are older have a sense of history and context that makes them better able to process and understand the things going on in society today.
The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. - Sam Levenson
Grandparents often find themselves in the role of mediator between their children and grandchildren, often bringing a calming voice, rich perspective, a more positive outlook, all the while respecting the authority of the parents.
To me, good grand-parenting breeds leadership qualities.
Writing in The Huffington Post back in 2014, Kristen Houghton had this to say:
The idea that being a grandmother somehow must limit a woman's goals in life is unfair and unjust. (going on to say) Being a grandmother is only one title women have in life and it is a title not a detriment to a personal and professional goal.
So when looking to cast a vote this November, consider the grandparent card not from an old stereotype but from the new fresh face of grand-parenting that has evolved in our society today.