Grandmothers Set Down Life Experiences

As boomer moms become grandmoms, book helps record their new attitudes.


May 10, 2008 — -- Do you still get to celebrate Mother's Day when you are also a grandmother?

Andy and Susan Hilford hope so. Their new book, "The Grandmother Book," is designed to help new grandmothers connect with their grandchildren and bridge across the generations, from mother to mother to child.

The Hilfords' book is similar to a traditional baby book, with space to record memories and notes for a member of a family to treasure for years to come.

But this baby book has a pretty cool modern grandma in mind -- maybe one who can't quite believe someone is calling her grandma at all.

Grandma can divulge intimacies about "grandfather studmuffin" in this keepsake book and describe her own childhood, adolescence and even childbirth experience under headings like: "Where Were Epidurals When I Needed Them?"

"The Grandmother Book" joins a number of new products marketed for the aging baby boomer generation, the 76.9 million Americans now ages 44 to 62 who find themselves being called Grandma or Nana or similar monikers.

"It's for the grandmothers who have become grandmothers much to their own surprise," Susan Hilford says.

Several new businesses offer a chance to make a mini documentary about a grandparent, which could include recording interviews and preserving the grandparents' image, voice and stories in their own words. But such videos can be costly -- sometimes thousands of dollars in professional video production. The Hilfords' book offers a lower price alternative.

There are also many travel companies that are designing travel itineraries for grandparents traveling with their grandchildren without the parent generation along for the trip at all.

"The Grandmother Book" and these other products are designed for the grandparents who want their grandchildren to know them as people, not simply as part of a family tree.

"It's for the generation who grew up in the age of the beginning of rock 'n' roll, the moon launches, color TV and all of that," author Andy Hilford says.

A growing number of grandparents in this country find themselves raising their own grandchildren. The Census Bureau counts 3.9 million grandmothers living with kids under 18. Of that number, 1.6 million grandmothers are responsible for providing for and raising their grandchildren.

But no matter how young a grandmother feels or how close she lives to her grandchildren, the memories of her own youth and life can be hard to preserve and pass on to the next generation.

"The Grandmother Book" prompts grandma to reflect on memories such as her own college experience and honeymoon -- personal details that not every grandparent may find the right moment to share with her grandchildren. And often times when the child is older and wants answers to such questions, grandma might not be present, or able, to answer those questions in such detail.

Not only do the authors hope you don't forget grandma this Mother's Day, they also hope you think about grandpa, mom, dad and new baby. The couple has already started working on their follow-ups to "The Grandmother Book."

Remember, Father's Day is just a few weeks away.

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