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New Generation of Grannies Rejects the Name "Grandma"

Grandma. Granny. Gram.

These names conjure up images of old ladies with powder-blue hair spending their Bingo winnings on lollipops for their chubby little darlings. Grandma is what I called my grandmother and great-grandmother growing up.

It’s hard to imagine pinning that moniker on my own mom. She’s a powerful professional woman more comfortable in a suit and heels than sweatpants. Sure, she’s in a knitting club and likes to grow tulips. But she’s also perfectly likely to tell me she can’t babysit because she has tickets to a Tool concert (this really happened). She’s a super-involved, loving grandmother, but “Grandma” just doesn’t seem to fit her.

So I have some sympathy for the legions of baby boomer grannies who are rejecting traditional nicknames and coming up with cutesy personal titles for their grandkids to call them.

We call my mom “Nana”, which is still a pretty conventional name for a grandmother but not one she has to share with her own mom. Also, my oldest came up with it when she was a toddler. It stuck because it was the name her first grandchild actually called her when she was learning to talk.

The New York Times takes a look at the “Grandma” rejectors and finds a whole world of cuteness. Blythe Danner goes by Lalo to her grandkids. Goldie Hawn is Glam-ma. Other grandparents prefer to go by their own given names, or by traditional appellations from their ancestral cultures. Those looking for creative grandparent names can get lots of ideas from “The New Grandparents Name Book, a Lighthearted Guide to Picking the Perfect Grandparent Name” or from Grandparents.com.

Perhaps even more of an issue than what to call grandma is who gets to decide. Does the grandmother in question get to pick her own name? Do the kids choose it for her? Does mom get to weigh in? Don’t worry, there’s a book to help you sort this out: Who Get’s To Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers. The author, Granny Guru, also writes a blog where she shares her own story of choosing her granny name.

What do your kids call their grandparents? Are they plain old Grandma and Grandpa, or something more creative? Who chose what to call them? Are you happy with the names? Are they?

Photo: Augie Schwer

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