So you think being a grandma is a cakewalk? | April 24, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - April 24, 2013

So you think being a grandma is a cakewalk?

Local writer gives grandparents tips on caring for the 'fragile relationship' with adult children

by Renee Batti

The sun is always shining and the music is sweet when Grandma and her grandchild get together. That's just the nature of the relationship.

But the relationship between a parent and a grandparent of the little darling? That's often an entirely different question. And it's the question Menlo Park resident Donne Davis addresses in her recently self-published book, "When Being a Grandma Isn't So Grand."

The book is "not about having grandkids; it's all about the relationship with adult children, when you're a grandmother," Ms. Davis said recently over coffee in her neighborhood cafe, Plantation. "I'm really interested in the dynamic between mothers and daughters. It's a fragile relationship — there are so many layers involved."

A retired college recruiter, Ms. Davis learned first-hand how fragile that relationship can be after her daughter had her first child 10 years ago. The first-time grandmother was so enamored of the child, and her new role as a grandmother, that she began a group, the GaGa Sisterhood, "to provide a place where grandmas can bond, brag, and benefit," she writes in her book.

But as time progressed, "reality set in," she says. She started to feel a strain developing between her and her daughter, and began a journey on "a steep learning curve" to try to understand and resolve the source of increasing conflict.

That journey was illuminated in part by stories told by members of her group, some of whom had stopped attending meetings because their own situations as grandparents with fractured relationships with their children had become too painful, Ms. Davis writes.

The topic became part of the group's conversation, and in her book, Ms. Davis cites "the three most common challenges" that members identified: not understanding modern parenting techniques; difficult relationships with a grandchild's parents; and "hurt feelings that result from being unappreciated or left out."

But Ms. Davis knew she couldn't understand, let alone write about, the subject without looking at the big picture, half of which could be described only by parents. "So I created a survey for moms, with eight questions about the challenges of parenting, their primary sources of conflict, and advice for grandparents," she writes.

She devotes a section of the book to the insights she gleaned from the mothers, which, she said, most often centered on their stated need for respect and empathy.

Through the years, Ms. Davis has evolved from a generally care-free, ecstatic and involved grandmother — now of two girls — into a sort of Grandma Guru, leading her GaGa Sisterhood, for which she writes a blog, and writing columns for "Parenting on the Peninsula" and the Huffington Post on issues involving grandparenting.

Her columns can also be found on, and recently, the sisterhood blog won a 2013 Readers Choice Award.

Her book can be purchased at Amazon, and her group's website is at


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Readers' Choice ballot is here

It’s time to decide what local business is worthy of the title “Almanac Readers' Choice” — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of The Almanac.