Ep 136. Madonna Harrington Meyer: Intensive Grandparenting
“ Grandparents are doing jobs that historically have been parents’ jobs.”
Madonna Harrington Meyer
Madonna Harrington Meyer is a professor of sociology and Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is a senior research associate at the Center for Policy Research and faculty affiliate at the Aging Studies Institute at Syracuse University. Madonna is the author of the 2014 book Grandmothers at Work: Juggling Families and Jobs, winner of the Gerontological Society of America’s Kalish Book Award. And she’s the co-editor of Grandparenting in the United States (2016) and of Market Friendly or Family Friendly? The State and Gender Inequality in Old Age (2007), which also won the Gerontological Society of America’s Kalish Book Award. She has published over 50 scholarly articles in leading journals and her research has been reported in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other leading periodicals. In 2016 she was named winner of the American Sociological Association (ASA) Section on Aging and the Life Course (SALC) Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award.
In this episode, Stew and Madonna discuss the indescribable joys of grandparenting as well as some of the new underbelly for grandparents who provide care for their grandchildren. In her research, Madonna has found that what sociologists call “the intensification of motherhood” has now seeped into grandmotherhood as well. Increasingly, grandparents are not just having fun with their grandchildren, they’re also taking them to doctor’s appointments, dropping them off and picking them up at school, supervising nightly homework and baths, and much more. In short, grandparents are taking on tasks that have, until recently, generally been the purview of parents. So, in addition to the sublime pleasures of grandparenting, many grandparents are now also feeling high levels of stress and strain as grandparenting intensifies. This is especially true for grandparents who are also working outside the home.