top of page

The Grandmother hypothesis

The Power Of Elders

And the wisdom of experience

It is my belief we can all be grandmothers & grandfathers or have motherly and fatherly traits in relationships whether we have created or birthed children or not.

This can be viewed as a way of being- a human archetype that may be embodied by anyone.

In definition - perhaps this could be someone who is deeply grounded through their own life experiences, having faced many challenges in their lives and survived them, who has seen much and is able to ‘see’ and 'be there' for others because of these life experiences.

These people would have been celebrated and revered in ancient cultures.

The Story Keepers

It was the grandmothers and grandfathers who held the stories and knowledge of the history of the people they lived amongst. It was these elders who told the stories to the younger members of the community of their heritage, their struggles and their survival.

Image by Angela Hardingham

Menopausal elder wisdom

The ‘grandmother hypothesis’ was a theory drawn from a study in 1966 which proposed the idea that it was the post menopausal women within ancient tribal groups who ensured the survival of group, assisting supporting mothers with young children and helping gather more food - freeing up others to hunt and do everything else that was needed for the survival of their community.

This is an exciting concept and makes perfect sense to me, perhaps there are still remnants of this in our insular westernised social structures -where parents whom are lucky enough to have support from their own parents for child care etc continue this thread.

However, many of us live far away from our family members and this is not a reality we enjoy. Our 'nuclear family' is fraught with juggling acts of child caring, jobs and running our homes. It can be extraordinarily challenging to meet all these needs well.

The point I am trying to make is that- somewhere- along the road of evolution and perhaps the development of a strongly patriarchal society, women- and most especially older women, seemingly lost this place of deep value within their communities.

Well- its time- that came back.

Reclaiming the value of the wise women and elders in our midst- the holders of stories- they have seen and experienced much.

I want to be one when I grow up!- or maybe its growing down…

Written by Hazel Osborne, Artist, Therapist & Rites of Passage Facilitator.

Many thanks to Angela Hardingham for her beautiful image.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page