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[Opinion] They Like Grandma Better

Posted January. 10, 2005 22:58,   


“If the role of a mother can be compared to marriage, that of a grandmother is romance,” Eva Figes (73), a feminist writer and novelist in England once said. To be a good mother, you can never be free of concerns and stress while taking great pains. In this regard, it is similar to marriage. On the other hand, all a grandmother has to do is pour her love onto her grandchildren. Regardless of their low score at school or misbehaviors, a grandmother looks at her children adorably. It’s just like a romantic relationship.

On the children’s side, they somehow feel at ease with their grandmother. Professor Han Jeong-ran of Hanseo University conducted a survey of middle and high school students in Seoul on their perceptions of the elderly in which respondents revealed that they have more positive feelings towards old women than old men. The students surveyed said “wise”, “kind”, and “patient” came to mind for old ladies, while negatively described old men as “boring”, “counterproductive”, and “weak”. The professor explained that Korean society expects its senior citizens to have “female characteristics” such as kindness and wanting to care for children.

The problem is old men. They should be rich enough to give some pocket money to their grandchildren, if not a handsome amount of inheritance, to retain their authority. If they just scold their grandchildren, thinking that they are still powerful in the family, their grandchildren may well give a cold shoulder to them. Good or bad, the average life span is being extended more and more. Korean’s average life span is 73.4 for men and 80.4 for women as of 2002. A warning came from the OECD that Korea would become the oldest country in 50 years. That means that people should earn money for 20 to 25 years to educate their children, and then should live without an income for a longer period than that.

The need for money and personal relationships increases with age. For your health, you have no option but to try to keep in shape on your own. But for money, you might be able to allocate some money for your own life after retirement by reducing the amount of money you invest in your children. Friends are the same way: the more, the better. But if it is hard to keep many friends around you, you should at least take good care of your wife so that you can avoid being miserable in old age. If you can work at an old age, the three above-mentioned problems can be easily solved. It is said that a law designed to prevent discrimination based on age takes effect in Europe as of October 2006. If it is hard to work at an old age, it may be a way to “employ” oneself.

Kim Soon-deok, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com