Dear Grandparenting: I belong to an informal little club of golf buddies. We have enough for two foursomes that try to play twice a week. The last time out we got into this little discussion waiting around to tee off. Eddie started it off with how his grandkids haven’t warmed up to him yet. Behind his back, they call him Big Grumpy. Robert jumped in next about how some of his little grandkids act scared if they’re alone with him. A couple others had a similar experience. We’re the grouchy ones and grandmothers are the happy ones. It’s like grandfathers are the big bad bogeyman. Right? Wrong!
I think we finally figured it out. Maybe it’s because we don’t put on a happy face whenever a grandkid sails into sight. Maybe it’s because we say “No!” while grandmothers spoil them to death in my opinion. Maybe it’s because they make movies like “Grumpy Old Men.” That’s our best guess.
Grandfathers get a bad rap on this happiness thing. We get to know people pretty well out on the golf course. Life’s too short to spend five hours in a golf cart with a jerk. All of us are pretty good guys. So what gives? Perry Alvarez, Atlanta, Georgia
Dear Perry: When it comes to the care and feeding of youngsters, men simply cannot compete with the maternal instinct. The female of the species is congenitally more attentive to their wants and needs, so they receive more affection.
But we never really gave much thought to who’s happier. Nor did mental health professionals, who were largely focused on depression and sadness. Only recently did happiness sail onto their radar as a subject of study.
We ran across a piece of recent research in The Journal of Happiness Studies, founded in 2000 as “an interdisciplinary forum for subjective well-being.” Although women tend to start out happier than men, the tables start to turn around age 48. When men hit 64 — an age when many grandfathers begin to bloom — they also report higher levels of satisfaction and attainment of their life’s goals.
Co-authors Anke Plagnol and Richard Easterlin sifted through decades of nationally representative data. Science has spoken — does that make granny the grump?
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
“Sully the Elder” from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, is retired but figures “I’ll always have a job. My grandkids aren’t going to spoil themselves!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.