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Why Doesn't Anyone Want To Be Called "Grandma" Anymore?

Illustration for article titled Why Doesnt Anyone Want To Be Called Grandma Anymore?

For years, people have used a variety of terms for their grandparents, from Nana to PawPaw. Recently, Blythe Danner and Goldie Hawn rejected the name "grandma" so now it's officially a trend!


Well, according to the New York Times Style Section at least. Recently Gwyneth Paltrow made the shocking revelation that Danner, grandmother to Apple and Moses, wanted to go by an unconventional name: Woof. "My mom's hot and she didn't want to be called Grandma," Gwyneth explained. "So she kept trying to make the Woof thing stick. It's even her e-mail address." (Apple renamed her Lalo.)

Goldie Hawn wrote in her memoir that when her grandson Ryder was born she didn't want to be called grandmother, a "word that had so many connotations of old age and decrepitude." Instead, "My son Oliver decided I should be called ‘Glam-Ma,' which I thought was quite brilliant and made us all laugh so hard." For proof that the term has caught on, the Times quotes Urban Dictionary: "If 60 is the new 40 then GlamMa is the new Grandma, a woman with a sense of self and style." This is actually only received seven up votes, and is the third definition after "attractive stylish girl" and "Ghetto fabulousness."


But it is true that many baby-boomers share the feeling that they're too young to be "grandpa." Dana Points, editor-in-chief of Parents magazine says, "Today's grandparents don't feel like they look or act like the grandparents of a generation ago, so there can be a weird disconnect with the official term." Instead, they're using ethnic variations, names thrust upon them by toddlers, or selecting names for themselves. There are even a grandparent-naming books and websites.

Aside from maintaining the illusion of youth, an advantage to picking unique names for grandparents is that it helps distinguish them from each other. Both little kids I know have different names not only for their grandparents, but for several great-grandparents. It does help the families keep everyone straight, but having five or six different nicknames can be tough to follow for an outsider. Conversations with my friend's 3-year-old are limited by my confusion over who's Nonny and who's Nana. Luckily, the topic usually shifts back to the imaginary frogs jumping around the room pretty quickly.

It's not surprising that there's more of an aversion to being a "grandparent" today, since there's more emphasis on fighting the aging process. But I actually think when the time comes, my mom will be happy to go by "grandma." We lived with my grandparents when I was little, and rather than "old age and decrepitude," for my family the term mainly has connotations of fun, love, and warmth — with a bit of unhip sewing and baking thrown in too.

Who Are You Calling Grandma? [NYT]

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My favorite grandparent names have been for gents. My brother's girlfriend called her grandma's new husband "Grumpy" because he was, in fact, quite grumpy. My friend's niece calls her grandfather "Boppy" but when she says it, she puts the emphasis on the second syllable, so it's "BoppEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"