Britain's army of real life Super Grans
Latest research from MINTEL* finds that there is more to Britain's grannies than baking, knitting and a round of bridge. The 21st century granny offers their family invaluable support, providing anything from practical help for the home and financial assistance to regular childcare and even comfort to elderly relatives.
Today, more than a third (34%) of grandmothers look after their grandchildren while the parents are working or simply out and about. This is particularly true of those aged under 65, with around half (52%) offering some kind of child care assistance.
"British families are changing rapidly but grandparents are clearly a constant and vital source of support for their children and grandchildren. With many parents now required to work long unsociable hours, grandparents can play an important role in helping with their grandchildren's development while the parents aren't around. Alongside this, grandparents give their own children an element of freedom so that they can have time for themselves as well as time to work and earn money. For many this independence made possible by Britain's grannies can make all the difference to everyday life," comments Angela Hughes, Consumer Research Manager at MINTEL.
Looking at this trend in greater detail, MINTEL's research finds that some 16% of all grandmothers take care of their grandchildren while their own son or daughter goes out to work, rising to nearly one in three (29%) of those aged between 55 and 64. Meanwhile, three in ten (30%) grandmothers act as general baby-sitters, looking after their grandchildren while their son or daughter goes out.
"With a growing number of families where both parents work, there is immense competition for childcare whether it is a nanny, childminder, au pair or nursery. As such this care has become extremely expensive, leaving many with no other option but to turn to the grandparents. But there are societal changes working against this trend. The move towards older parenthood and in turn older grandparenthood could mean that grandparents may be less able to help out in the future. Grannies and grandpas today may look younger and seem fitter and more active, but they are actually older than they used to be. Now that women have babies in their thirties and forties, new grandparents are likely to be in their sixties or even in their early seventies and this shift in age may make looking after grandchildren a near impossibility," explains Angela Hughes.
Today, more than half (54%) of all British grandmothers are aged 65 and over, with just under one in five (19%) aged 55 and under. Just over half of grandmothers are married (55%), and a third are widowed (33%).
A grandmothers work is never done
Not content with acting as surrogate mothers, today's grannies are taking on a whole host of other family responsibilities. Indeed, it seems that a grandmothers work is never done, with over one in ten (11%) often helping grown up children (aged 18 and over) and stepchildren with domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, DIY and shopping. And it is not just their children who are benefiting from gran's practical help, a further 8% of grandmothers offer similar general household support to an older relative. Meanwhile, one in twenty (5%) look after a relative who does not live with them.
Finally, almost one in five (18%) grandmothers offer regular financial support to their grown up children (aged over 18), which is particularly surprising bearing in mind that the majority (61%) will be retired pensioners.
"With the onset of the pension crisis, these grannies may well not be enjoying a comfortable retirement. Providing additional monetary assistance to family members could well be placing a significant burden on these women who are already suffering considerable financial pressure," explains Angela Hughes.
Mintel is a worldwide leader of competitive media, product and consumer intelligence. For more than 30 years, Mintel has provided key insight into leading global trends. With offices in Chicago, London, Belfast and Sydney, Mintel's innovative product line provides unique data that has a direct impact on client success. For more information on Mintel, please visit their Web site at http://www.mintel.com/