Modern grandparents: Busier, hands-on and happy

mimi and Noelle
Courtesy Kelly Dunham
By Rebecca Dube

Grandparents these days are younger, hipper and more involved than ever before.

To put it another way, these aren't your grandparents' grandparents.

Starting with grandparent names — many favor unique, child-bestowed nicknames like Diddy, GoGo and Gaga — the older generation is doing things in new ways. As Grandparents' Day approaches on Sept. 7, here are some highlights of TODAY's survey of 1,200 parents and 900 grandparents.

Modern grandparents spend a lot of time with their grandchildren.

  • 54 percent of parents say their parents spend more time with the grandchildren than their own grandparents spent with them as a child.
  • 42 percent of grandparents see their grandchildren weekly; 22 percent see them daily.
  • 48 percent of grandparents say they wish they could spend more time with their grandchildren; 46 percent say they spend the perfect amount of time together; and 6 percent say they'd like to see the grandkids a little less often.
  • A quarter of parents say they rely on grandparents for child care a few times a month; 17 percent do so a few times a week; and one in 10 lean on grandparents for daily child care.

All that togetherness is going pretty well; both parents and grandparents say they're happy.

  • 86 percent of parents and 90 percent of grandparents say they see eye-to-eye on parenting issues, reporting few or no differences in parenting philosophies. (An unlucky 5 percent of parents and 2 percent of grandparents say they have totally opposite views on parenting. We're guessing this makes for some awkward holiday dinners.)
  • 89 percent of parents say their own parents are good grandparents to their children. (Slightly fewer, 85 percent, say their own parents were good parents to them — so four percent got better with age.)
  • The vast majority, 69 percent, of grandparents say their style is hands-on, agreeing with the statement, "I get down on the floor and play."
  • Some things never change: 78 percent of parents say grandparents spoil their children (and 90 percent of those say they're fine with that).
  • Best job ever: 87 percent of grandparents say they love being grandparents. (11 percent say being a grandparent is "fine," and a scant 2 percent say "Meh. Honestly it's not that great."

According to, the web site of the American Grandparents Association, the 70 million grandparents in the U.S. are defying stereotypes. Some of their research finds:

  • The average age of grandparents in the U.S. is 48.
  • 43 percent exercise or play sports.
  • 45 percent are on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • 60 percent have a full-time or part-time job.
  • 10 percent have a tattoo.
  • 6 percent have started a blog.
  • Grandparents spend $52 billion every year on their grandkids alone. (Holy economic engine, Batman!)

And here, some hands-on modern grandparents, courtesy of readers on Facebook.

Nana, Sandy Workman Warner, and her minions.Today
Coby and Pawpaw . Bestfriends.Today
Grandma Magic, courtesy Mary Ann Kelly Sember.Today
My amazing Mother Susan Katz Deing who quit her job and drives almost an hour each way 3 days a week to help me with our twin boys. I swear she has more energy than I do!Today
Grampy plays hard, too.Today
Mathew and his Mom-MomToday
Being Grandparents long distance is hard but we are very proud of the choice our son-in-law has made to serve in the US Army. They have been stationed in Hawaii fro the last few years and now are heading East to NJ and we couldn't be happier. Hawaii was a nice place to visit but NJ is closer to Massachusetts. Heather Milligan and Mark Dale Milligan Jr.Today
My mom Kathy Reilly Cloern with her two grandbabies.Today
Grandpa and his only grandkid. After three daughters of his own, he was beyond excited for a boy!Today
My dad with my kids 3 weeks before we found out he had a rare brain cancer. He passed away 4 months after this picture was taken.Today