Monday, April 12, 2010

Bum Rap for Grandma

So my last post was about the twelve Opinion Shapers named for the coming year meeting at our community newspaper’s offices. One of the contributors, a lovely woman I recognize from years past, sat down next to me. We hadn’t really spoken previously—these meetings somehow haven’t exactly lent themselves to that. This year, our new editor established an entirely different tone, and most of us were more chatty.

Anyway, in our round-robin of “who-I-am-and-what-I-do”, I learned that this woman is a retired physician—a pediatric cardiologist, in fact. Now she tutors in Latin and French, and writes these columns… Did I mention that she managed to raise seven children? I want to be her when I grow up. Oh wait—I forgot to become a doctor. Or to have more children. Well, I shall just have to bask in her glow, and settle for who I am.

Back to my point, and I DO have a point.

Dr. Wonderful (her newly-minted alias) mentioned that she can always tell which children are being raised by their grandmothers. Without hesitation, I said, “Because they have good manners?” She turned to me, smiling, bemused, and said, “Precisely. Because they have good manners.”

So score some points for the grandmothers, and their willingness to model and teach good manners. Of course, most moms and dads do this, too, but I’m claiming a bit of credit for the grandmothers to offset the bum rap we (as a class) got in the news this week.

In case you missed it, an article by Jeannine Stein of the Los Angeles Times a few days ago was headlined

“Do grandparents make kids fat?”

Stein cites a study in the International Journal of Obesity (I swear, I am not making this up) that found that kids cared for by grandparents full-time had a 34% increase in “risk of being overweight.” The part-timers showed a 15% increase. (So were they actually overweight, because I don’t really get what the ‘risk of’ means, otherwise.)

So maybe grandparents are handing out too many cookies and snacks, or maybe they are reading more with the kids, and doing puzzles and homework and other sedentary activities with them. Speaking for myself, I love to take the little ones to the park, but I’m not out there playing tag, throwing the ball, and generally chasing them around the yard like their moms and dads do. Which side of the equation is causing this, assuming it’s true?

I’m a believer in healthy eating, but all things in moderation. So, Jeannine Stein of the L.A. Times, if the kids raised by their grandmothers turn out to be at high risk for obesity (whatever that means) at least they will say, “Will you please pass the cupcakes?” rather than, “Yo, send them cupcakes over here!”


  1. As long as they don't make demands with their mouths full, all good. :)

  2. Studies are usually more complicated than the news articles that report on them. I would guess that poverty plays into it. Children who are cared for literally full-time by grandparents tend to be poorer. And poverty in this country is associated with obesity, for a variety of reasons that have mostly to do with financial resources.

  3. My parents are definately not handing out junk to my kids. They're health nuts and are all, "Here, have some celery."

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Can't wait to read more from you! My grandma definitely fattened me up a little...but a little sweets at Grammy's never hurt anyone!

  5. Someone doesn't know the difference between brought up on good food and picking at the contents of the fridge because the poor moms are too exhausted to cook, I'd say! And I think the manners thing is excellent- GO GRANDMAS!