Chicken soup when you’re sick(and even when you’re not), staying up passed bedtime, and gifts for no reason. These are some of the many things I associate with grandmothers. Now, my view might be skewed, but I do believe I have the world’s best grandma…and yes, she has the mug to prove it. So in homage to my grandma, as we come up on her 91st birthday, let’s look at a this research devoted to showing the long term impact of grandmothers.
The “Grandmother Theory” explains part of the success of increased longevity in the human species to the role the grandma plays. Looking back thousands of years to our hunter gatherer period, grandmothers played a similar role to what they do now. Child care. Since we all know there were no 55 and older communities in Pangaea, or given the lifespan at the time I guess it would be 25 and older communities… Anyway, the role of grandmothers in the care of their grandchildren allowed mothers to be free to have more children. Supposedly, if the genes allowed a long life, they were there to help raise the grandchildren, ensuring their genes were passed on. By freeing up the parents, grandmothers enabled development for tools, theories(like this one!) and other pursuits that would have otherwise been solely consumed with procreating the species.
Yes this theory is riddled with possible confounding factors, but give it some leeway. Of course it isn’t looking at the man’s role, or possible genetic factors, however, social support accounts for tremendous amount in development. The mathematical model to go along with this theory shows that primates without the grandmother role rarely allowed females to live past childbearing years. When grandmothers become more of the norm in a species, the lifespan can double in less than 60,000 years, a mere footnote in history. Grandmothers, or extended family in general give rise to our social needs, forming us as a cooperative society. Grandma always did say “if you can’t say anything nice…”
So regardless if you agree, and if you don’t, clearly grandma withheld the cookie jar in your life, let’s just be thankful to grandmas.