cover image Grandmothering: Building Strong Ties with Every Generation

Grandmothering: Building Strong Ties with Every Generation

Kathleen Stassen Berger. Rowman & Littlefield, $32 (328p) ISBN 978-1-5381-3313-2

Berger (The Developing Person), a developmental psychologist, mother of four, and grandmother of three, offers a helpful guide to being a grandparent that is jam-packed with useful ideas. Early on, Berger provides historical context to the role grandmothers have played—increasing childhood survival rates, for example, by being available to care for children. She also poses, and answers, some big questions: “What are grandmothers for?” and “Are grandmothers now superfluous?” The meat of the book covers 27 lessons, grouped according to the period in a grandchild’s life at which they’re relevant. Lessons range from common sense (“Lesson 1: Keep Comments to Yourself”) to more complex issues (“Lesson 6: Build Relationships Carefully” or “Lesson 13: Avoid Assumptions”). Berger does not avoid tough topics, touching on divorce, suicide, drugs, sex, and plenty of situations that produce conflict. A myriad of quotes from grandmothers help bring the book’s lessons to life, while cartoons and charts also convey Berger’s messages. This is an exceedingly well-researched book—the length of the notes and bibliography sections reflects that—and a useful guide to grandmothers (and those soon to be) looking for a way to navigate unfamiliar waters. (Nov.)