Would you be offended if someone called you granddad or grandmother at the age of 23? Well, that is the case with the youngest grandparent in the world. A Romanian woman by the name of Rifca Stanescu holds the Guinness World Record for the youngest grandmother and grandparent. How is that even possible, you would say? Well, here is how.
The Daily Mail reported that Rifca gave birth to her daughter Maria when she was only 12 years old. And the irony is the young girl outdid her mother. Maria gave birth to her son at the age of 11, despite pleas from her own mother to stay in school and get a good education. But Maria had a child marriage at a young age.
Rifca is now in her late 30s and says she is happy to be a grandmother, yet she wished something else for Maria. She also says she wished something for her as well. She wasn’t even a teenage mum when she got her daughter. The world’s youngest grandmother was only 23 when she got her grandson.
Born in 1985, Rifca still holds the record for the youngest grandparent. She eloped with a jewelry seller when she was only 11 years old. He was 13 at the time. Her family was absolutely livid and tried to forcefully bring her back home many times. Yet, she continued to escape and run back to her man.
Stanescu says, “I wanted to marry him, so I agreed, and of course, after we had spent the night together then there was no way anyone could separate us. I had been promised to another boy’s family since I was two years old but I didn’t want that.”
Rifca comes from a gypsy culture where women are married incredibly young. This way, their new husband can be sure their wife is a virgin. In gypsy culture, virginity is seen as a commodity and virgin wives collect a good dowry from the families of the prospective husband.
What Does Rifca Think About Everything?
When The Sun interviewed Rifca years ago, she said the following, “I am happy to be a grandmother but I wished something else for Maria – and something else for me. Ion is a good boy – and he is already engaged to a girl aged 8. Boys are always good to have – they don’t have to suffer as much as girls I think.”
A year after Rifca got married to her man back in the day, she fell pregnant with Maria.
Before she married and escaped with her man, there was a lot of fighting. Once, her father attacked her husband with a knife. Her father wanted the husband to pay 500,000 lei in compensation. Rifca says, “My family even took me home but after three days I ran away again to be with him”.
Following the birth of Maria, Ionel’s family paid Rifca’s father a dowry and all was settled.
Speaking about her daughter, Rifca says she begged her daughter to stay in school and finish her education. But Maria chose to follow in her footsteps and marry herself. Within six months she too had fallen pregnant with her own child.
Speaking about her daughter, Rifca said, “I did not try to stop my daughter getting married because this is the tradition, it’s what happens.”
In the United Kingdom, the youngest British grandma was an unnamed 26-year-old from Rotherham, Yorkshire. Her 12-year-old daughter gave birth in 1999.
Before Rifca broke the Guinness World Record, the previous record holder for youngest grandmother and youngest grandfather were a 29-year-old British man and a 29-year-old woman from Naples, Italy.
Average Age to Become Grandparent
Statistics say that the average age of becoming a grandparent is 50 years of age. Yet, many individuals become new grandparents even earlier, sometimes in their 30s.
Younger grandparents face many challenges. For starters, becoming a grandparent at a young age can scramble all expectations for the second half of life.
Technically, you can become a young grandparent if you marry someone older who already has young children from a previous marriage. The technical term is step-grandparents, but the difference is academic.
Many young parents and young grandparents have a hard time adjusting to reality.
Are there any advantages of being a young grandparent?
Well, young grandparents face some obstacles, but their youth also gives them an undeniable age. They can help with grandchildren more easily. They are less likely to take a nap in the middle of a grandchild visit. And as the grandchildren grow, they can be more in tune with their interests than an older grandparent.
Yes, many grandparents stay fit and hip in their older years. And many manage to stay involved in the life of their grandchildren. But the reduced mobility and stamina take their toll.
Yet, remember, grandchildren, are the best anti-aging formula yet. They motivate grandparents to keep moving and playing.
Strict Gypsy Marriage Rules
We talked before about how Rifca was a Romanian housewife and how she had to oblige to some marriage rules. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the most common and popular Roma culture marriage rules.
- Marry and get pregnant young, as unmarried young people are not allowed to socialize alone together because of emphasis on female chastity
- Must continue to do all the housework, no matter pregnant or not
- Husbands are not allowed to give a helping hand, girls are raised to be housewives, and mothers only
- No breastfeeding, as many believe breastfeeding contain implications of sexual impropriety
- Getting pregnant is more important than education
- Have as many babies as possible, in a world where two to three kids is considered normal, gypsies believe they need to have more children. It is common to deliver up to ten babies over the span of a lifetime
- Boys and girls are raised differently, fathers raise boys and mothers raise girls. Interfering in your spouse’s child rearing style is unheard of
- Women must stay pure
- Hormones are not an excuse, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy are not accepted for being rude to the elders in the family