Because of their experience and longevity, grandparents often have more clout at work than young parents to shift hours, days off and even bring grandkids to the office. Often, they’re the ones who make it to school plays or dance recitals. “We’re now in positions where we are more in control. We have some flexibility and we’re going to use it for our grandchildren,” Orshan says. “Our children don’t have that control yet.”
Veteran South Florida attorney Jan Atlas says he, too, approaches work and family differently as a boomer. The 68-year-old grandfather of four jets to Charlotte and Los Angeles to see his grandkids at least once a month. The routine requires careful management of his work schedule. “I plan for my younger associates to take over,” Atlas says. Though in his younger years he invested intense commitment in his career, he says, “I don’t want to be a workaholic at this age.”
To be sure, you will still find boomers who struggle to make ends meet and can’t take time off. You will still find many on the golf course and yoga class who enjoy their hobbies. But boomers also like to feel needed — and pitching in with their grandkids can be the ideal outlet.
Even more, it turns out to be good for a grandparent’s mental health. A new study by the Institute on Aging at Boston College shows that a good relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren was linked to fewer depression symptoms for both elderly and young adults.
Ginny Gutierrez, director of Community Relations at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, says she definitely feels that emotional boost from the balance her grandchildren bring to her life. Although her two grandchildren live a few hours away in Key West, Gutierrez, 60, speaks to them every day, on her way to work and home from work instead of filling that time with business calls. “It has become really special time for me,” Gutierrez says. “I’m pretty focused all day long. When I hear their voices, I feel my life is full.”
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