Did Your Daughter or Daughter-in-Law Agree?

I told someone recently how I came to write my book, “Who Gets to Name Grandma?


Matti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is often a disconnect between Boomer women, whose life expectancy has lengthened by 10 years in our lifetime, 30 years in the last century, and our daughters or daughters-in-law, who still think a grandmother is old.

Women’s life expectancy in the United States:

A different way of looking at our longer lives is, how long could you expect to live if you reached 65?

How many additional years could you expect, on average, if you’d ducked all the early killers?

We still get an additional seven years in the last century, four years in our lifetime.

Women’s additional years of life expectancy in the United States, at age 65:

  • 1900: 12.2 years = 65 + 12.2 = 77.2 years
  • 1940: 13.6 = 78.6 years
  • 1950: 15 = 80 years
  • 1997: 19.2 = 84 years

So, it’s not just years at the end of our lives, when we are frail.

It’s years in the middle of our lives, when we are still healthy.

Years when we expect to be playing with our grandchildren.

It’s not just that fewer children are dying of the childhood scourges now prevented by vaccinations, like smallpox, measles and polio than they were in the first half of the twentieth century.

It’s also public safety measures, like seat belts and fluoridated drinking water and bike helmets.

So, sometimes, about-to-be grandmas want a younger-sounding name than Grandma.

I listened with understanding when this young grandmother told me about how she picked her grandma name.

“I was in the Mall when my daughter called me.”

“We had just been looking at colleges for her to attend in the Fall.

“She was about to turn 18.”

“Mom, I’m pregnant.”

Mom was livid.

She’d married herself at 22.

She saw all the hopes and plans for her daughter disappearing or being delayed.

She also quickly realized she was going to be a very young grandmother.

“Well, I’m not going to be called Grandma.”

A few days later, when the dust had settled, her daughter called again.

“OK, Mom. What do you want the baby to call you?”


“Mom, I’m not going to let my baby call you Jan.”

Eventually, they compromised on Jan-ma, a contraction of Jan and Grandma.

Her husband became Tim-pa.

That beautiful grandbaby is about to turn 18.

Recently, her four-year-old granddaughter complained to her.

“All the kids in my class have Grandmas. Why don’t I have a Grandma?”

“You do. Her name is Jan-ma.”

Catch up with Janet Gentleman Ingersoll, Jan-ma, this still young grandmother, at her website, attractyoursoulmate.com


How did you pick your grandma name?

Who picked your grandma name?

Do all your grandchildren call you by the same name?

To you and the love that calls you by name.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers



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