The Importance of Grandmothers

     I am taking an English course now at a university. It is my third summer intensive course. Usually each course starts on Monday and finishes on Friday. But this time the schedule of the course is unusual. It started last Wednesday and finishes next Wednesday because there is a national holiday during the week.

    The teacher in my class is a dandy British gentleman, who is from London, England. Actually I am not good at catching British English. My first English teacher was an American, and since then I have learned American English. But the teacher tries to speak clearly because he knows that many students have as similar experiences as I have.

     There are 12 students in the class. All of us are women. One dandy gentleman and 12 pretty ladies! Wow! I have already known most of them. Actually I have taken the teacher’s class before. Probably this is the fourth time to take his class. And I didn’t know only three of my classmates.

     First day’s topic was the family. The teacher gave us an interesting handout for the topic. It was hardly believe for me when I read the story, which was about the importance of grandmothers.

     According to the article, grandmothers influence the survival rate of their grandchildren! Can you believe that?

     Dr. Ruth Mace and Dr. Rebecca Sear in the Department of Anthropology at University College in London studied about people in the countryside in Gambia, Africa in 1996. And they discovered the presence or absence of the child’s father did not affect the death rate. But the presence of a grandmother reduced the death rate by 50%. Besides, they found out a surprising fact that the children were only helped by the presence of their maternal grandmother, and the paternal grandmother had no effect on the mortality rate!

     Another anthropologist, Dr. Cheryl Jamison at Indiana University in Bloomington studied the population records of a village in central Japan for period 1671 through 1871 with her colleagues. Those days, the mortality rate for children in the village was very high. 27.5% of children died by the age of 16. Their discovery was unbelievable: girls were not affected for their mortality rate by their grandmothers’ existence. But boys were very affected. If a maternal grandmother lived together, boys were 52% less to die in childhood. On the contrary, if boys lived together with their paternal grandmother, they were 62% more to die in childhood! Really?!

     In the old days before Kamakura era, our society had been matrilineal. I’ve heard that matrilineal society is primitive but is normal for mammals. It may relate with children’s survival rate.

     Nowadays nuclear families are increasing, grandchildren and grandmothers seldom live together. Since medical techniques are developing, the mortality rate for children is decreasing and aging society is advancing. So now do grandmothers affect their grandchildren for the survival rate? I don’t know that, but maybe economically their influences on their children and grandchildren are great!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s