What's a Grandmother Worth?

If grandparents were paid for all the work we do, our salary would amaze everyone.

By Lisa Carpenter

Each Mother’s Day, Salary.com releases figures on what a mom is worth, the salary mothers working outside the home and within should make based on the duties she performs. Esteemed outlets from Forbes to Working Mother magazine tout the results, highlighting the ultimately priceless job mothers perform.

I think a similar study should be done on what a grandmother is worth, released each Grandparent’s Day. With the 2012 salary figured for stay-at-home moms being $112,962, stay-at home grandmas should easily come in with at least half that again. Say, something nearing the $200,000 range.

Pish, some might say. One doesn't get paid for keeping the rocking chair rocking, the cookies baking, the knitting needles clicking.

Which is exactly why such a survey is needed: to highlight the myriad roles grandmothers fill, duties many non-grandmas don’t realize go into the position.Grandmothers are mothers supersized. Sure, carpool and teaching duties are trimmed (though remaining, only now for the grandkids), but additional roles have been assigned. We’re still Mom—a position made ever more challenging as we mother adults, whom we can’t send to their rooms or restrict from their friends. Then we’re so much more. We care not only for ourselves, our partners, our homes, but as advanced members of the sandwich generation, we now also care for three additional generations—our parents, our children, and our children’s children.

Those roles beyond “Mom” add significantly to the “Grandma” pay stub. Consider annual pay for roles performed in caring for our parents—personal assistant, personal shopper, dietician, activity director, chauffeur. Caregiving for our adult children require us to be parenting advisor, family historian, family counselor, culinary instructor. Caring for the grandkids? For starters, we’re camp director, photographer, nanny, party planner. Sometimes we even serve as magician and clown.

Then there’s the overtime consideration. Many not-yet-retired grandmas do it all in addition to working an outside job. Let’s not forget holiday pay, either, for holidays are when grandmas go the extra mile, put in extra hours creating extra-memorable moments.

Which leads me to amend the $200,000 or so salary mentioned above. I’m not going out on a limb to say adding the grandma duties to that $112,962 salary for stay-at-home moms—or the $66,979 for working moms, plus their regular paycheck—would no doubt result in a staggering amount no one could ever pay. Far above the $200,000, for sure.

Yet ultimately, the amount doesn’t matter. We grandmothers (usually) relish our multiple roles. I can’t imagine a single grandma who would want to get paid for all that she does.

That said, though, I can’t imagine a single grandma who wouldn’t be delighted every Grandparent’s Day to see Forbes and other publications celebrating grandmothers and our worth—not only to our families, but to the rest of the country, as well.

Lisa Carpenter is a mother, grandmother and writer of the blog Grandma's Briefs. You can read more of her musings here.


Oh hey, when I mentioned grandparents who maintain a logndistance relationship with their grandkids, I forgot to say that if you're trying to find Grandparenting from Afar, that also is in the Community section, under Grandparenting.

rosered135 on 2012-09-14 14:51:33

Just want to add, also, that I hope we're all careful about those roles of "parenting advisor" and "family counselor." They work *only* if our adult kids and their spouses/significant others welcome our advice and probably best if they, actually, seek it out. As far as I can see, parents, today, are even more resistant to unsolicited advice than ever. And, unfortunately, grandparents who insist on giving it, often find themselves pushed away. or. in some cases, totally cut off. More specifically, parenting advisor can be tricky b/c there's so much new medical and other info and ideas. Often the best parenting advice, IMO, is "ask the pediatrician" or "check your childcare book." And family counselor can be even trickier if it means finding oneself in the middle between husband and wife. From what I've seen, unfortunately, even the most loving and well-meaning of us can often make problems worse. And if the conflicts are really serious, often the best advice there, IMO, is "I think you need to see a marriage counselor" or "professional family counselor." ... All of which reminds me, if you've been trying to find Mothers-in-Law Anonymous, click on Community and then Family Matters. Several of your fellow-members have already begun talking with each other....

rosered135 on 2012-09-14 05:11:07

Love this! But I have to add that a problem with assessing a grandmothers' "worth," monetarily, is that the range or relationships that we have with our adult children and grandchildren, is, for better or worse, much broader, today, than that of mothers. For example, yes, there are "nanny grannies," like me, who watch their grands, frequently, while the parents work, etc. And even, unfortunately, an increasing number of grandparents who are raising their grandkids b/c the parents can't or won't. But, at the opposite end if the grandparenting spectrum, there are grandparents who don't get to see their kids and grandkids that often, due to location/distance. And, again, sadly, there are others, regardless of where they live, who are estranged from their adult children and grandchildren.... BTW, if you're reading this and looking for your old group, Grandparents Caring for Grandkids, just click on Community - yes, Community - at the very top-middle of the page - and then Grandparenting and you'll find us! If you've been trying to find Empty Nest No Longer, click on Community and then Family Matters. Grandparents without Grandchildren? Community and Family Matters again. Etc. As I'm sure you recall, 11 groups from the old site were brought over here to the new - they are all in the Community section, organized by category.

rosered135 on 2012-09-14 04:59:57

You could say that grandmothers are worth their weight in gold! Unfortunately, they will never get paid because what grandma is gonna reveal her weight?

darrigale@gmail.com on 2012-09-13 16:11:48

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