Rifca Stanescu from Romania is the youngest living grandparent in the world, officially.
Her story is quite extraordinary, but she’s not the only one who experienced the joy of grandparenthood at a young age.
Stanescu became a grandma when she was only 23. The housewife from Romania got married when she was 12 and her daughter when she was 11.
Six months into her daughter’s marriage, she became pregnant, but Rifca wasn’t happy about it. Here is the story and a few other extraordinary cases from all over the world.
The average ages of grandparents
Worldwide, the average age of becoming a grandmother is 50 and grandfather a two to three years later.
But, in the Western world, where people are getting married and/or having kids later, most grandparents are seniors, meaning over 65.
The statistics aside, there are multiple advantages to becoming a younger grandparent. You have more energy and more time to see your grandchildren growing up, getting married, or becoming successful people in their chosen career paths.
But, many young grandparents don’t see themselves as grandparents, and they have to be both a parent and a grandparent at the same time.
Parenting is a never-ending job, but if your child has a baby in its late teens or early 20s, it’s not the same as if you have a fully developed person as a parent.
There’s no ideal time to become a parent or any other significant figure in a child’s life. Similarly, parenthood, as well as grandparenthood, come with many joyful occasions.
Now, what one culture might consider a young grandparent, it’s rather common among others. So, let’s go back to the youngest grandparents in the world and their stories.
Tradition and unusual customs
Stanescu (pictured) from the village of Investi gave birth to her daughter when she wasn’t even a teenager. This was back in 2011, and to this day, she’s the youngest grandparent known to the world.
She wanted more for her daughter Maria, though she’s quite fond of her son-in-law. Rifca told TheSun several years ago:
“I did not try to stop my daughter getting married because this is the tradition; it’s what happens,”
Stanescu shared her mixed feelings:
“I am happy to be a grandmother, but I wished something else for Maria — and something else for me.”
Maria and Ion married when she was 11, while he was 13. He was already promised to another girl, so the two eloped. The youngest grandma said about her Ion:
“Ion is a good boy — and he is already engaged to a girl aged eight,”
“Boys are always good to have — they don’t have to suffer as many girls, I think.”
Rifca is reportedly of Romani “Gypsy” descent, married to jeweler Ionel Stanescu. But this family holds another record.
Ion’s birth has made Stanescu’s mother another possible record holder, as she became a great-grandmother at age 40, allegedly.
It’s hard for us to understand how such young girls can give birth, but this is custom in many countries, and instead of judging, we’re looking at these cases with curiosity.
However, as Rifca Stanescu pointed out, young men are in a better position than girls, which is disturbing and saddening.
Britain’s youngest grandmothers are also in their 20s
Kelly John had her daughter when she was 14. Her biggest fear was that her daughter Tia would repeat history.
Allegedly, Kelly was not happy to hear that her teen daughter is expecting:
Tia is now expecting her own child at the same age.
“My worst nightmare has always been that Tia would repeat my mistake and get pregnant young.”
“[When I found out] I felt the color drain from my face, and all I could do was cry.”
Kelly is most likely the youngest British grandma since she was only 29 by the time her daughter had her child.
Even stranger is the story from 1999. At the time, the unnamed woman was only 26, while her 12-year-old daughter gave birth.
The preteen didn’t even know she was pregnant, and her mother told the reposters:
“We had no idea she was pregnant. Nobody in the family did.”
“She had put on a little bit of weight, but we didn’t suspect anything.”
“I couldn’t believe it when it started happening, and I even threatened to smack an ambulance man when he said she had given birth.”
South Yorkshire Police said:
“We are treating this as a 12-year-old girl who is a victim of crime.”
A similar story appeared in 2014, though, once again, the names were left out. In that case, the 12-year-old and her 13-year-old boyfriend told the family they were expecting a month before birth.
Her father, 27 at the time, the youngest grandparent, said:
“I would rather have come home and had this than find out she was on drugs at 11 or 12.”
The youngest great-grandparents in Germany and beyond
Nikola Kostic from Germany became a grandfather when he was 26. He had a son when he was 13, and the boy followed in his father’s footsteps.
Nikola and his wife Todora were in their mid-40s when they became the youngest great-grandparents in Germany and among the youngest in the world.
Kostic proudly posted a video that includes family photos and the cover from the German newspapers stating they are the youngest grandparents in Germany.
But, if you think these examples are radical, wait until you hear stories from developing countries. Many cannot be confirmed, so take them with a grain of salt.
Grandmother at 17
We’re not quite sure whether this is physically possible. Yet, the youngest grandmother ever recorded in history was Marcolo Nersta.
She was 17, while her partner was 18 when they became grandparents. On the day they became grandparents to the twins, the two were getting their high school diplomas.
Marcolo and her husband Fralto from Burma married when they were 7 and 8.
Another similar case happened in Nigeria’s city Calabar. Childhood marriages are quite common in this area. Mum-Zi was a member of a harem. She gave birth to a daughter when she was 8.
This story is from 1884, and according to it, Mum-Zi became a grandmother at the young” age of 17. Since many of the cases are unconfirmed, or things of the past, officially, the youngest grandparent is Stanescu. She became a grandma in her 20s, which is quite different from becoming one before your 18th birthday.
Adolescent Pregnancy is a Social Problem
Pregnancies among children and teens are common. It’s risky, and it doesn’t mean that your child will become a parent. Many families decide to terminate the pregnancy or choose to give a baby up for adoption. Yet, it does leave scars, and the only thing to do is support the expecting mother.
Just how common are adolescent pregnancies? According to World Health Organization, 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years, and 2 million girls aged under 15 years become pregnant in developing regions.
Becoming a grandparent should be a joyous occasion, but if your child is still a child, it comes with an additional burden.
Though many cultures still approve of child marriages, teen pregnancies in the Western world are caused by a lack of education and stigma surrounding sex.
If you don’t want to be among the youngest grandparents, you need to have those hard, difficult conversations and openly accept that your child will eventually have sex.
What you don’t want is to make them feel like that’s something dirty or bad. Kids like the taste the forbidden fruit, so by being honest and straightforward, as well as supportive, you’ll be doing your best to give your child a chance to grow up before becoming a parent.
Kids raising kids is a common burden for grandparents, both emotionally and financially. However, when it comes to teen or preteen pregnancies among children as a social issue, there’s not much you can do, sadly.