Young adulthood seems to be becoming a longer and longer period, as floundering 20-somethings struggle to find a career path in a less-than-ideal economy. As a result, the marrying age has jumped to an all-time high (27 for women and 29 for men). Even though marriage is no longer seen as a pre-requisite for having children, the American population is waiting to have kids as well.
Nevertheless, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some other places around the globe, marrying young is the norm. Even in the U.S., some women become grandmothers before some of their peers have even had their first child, especially with the continued prevalence of teenage pregnancy. Here are some grannies that are so unbelievably young that you might wonder if they are holding their children rather than grandchildren. Here are some of their stories.
15 Tina Knowles – 55
Knowles is the famous mother of Beyoncé and Solange. When Solange gave birth to a son, Knowles joined the ranks of other celebrity young grandmothers.
When Knowles got married to actor Richard Lawson last spring, her grandchildren got to be a part of the ceremony. It’s not every day that you get to see your grandma get married.
14 Kris Jenner – 54
Her ex-husband Bruce now Caitlyn Jenner may be making headlines in the wake of his sex change, but many may not know that the former trophy wife Kris took on the title of grandmother when one of her famous Kardashian daughters Kourtney gave birth in 2009. Kris is one grandmother that is hard to keep up with.
13 Marie Osmond – 53
Marie Osmond is part of a very famous family, known for strict rules and beliefs. Even though her son waited until he was 30 to start a family, Marie Osmond still makes the list of young grannies, becoming a grandparent at the age of 53 when her daughter-in-law gave birth to her first grandchild in 2013.
12 Vicki Gunvalson – 50
How fun it must be to enjoy your grandchildren while you yourself are still young. Gunvalson may be a young grandmother, but she is totally embracing the role. According to the “Real Housewives of Orange County” star, grand parenting is like parenting without all of the responsibilities.
Gunvalson became a granny in 2012 when her daughter Briana brought her grandson into the world.
11 Naomi Judd – 48
You can call her “Marnaw.” This term of endearment is what Judd prefers to be called now. Her daughter Wynonna gave her a grandson in 1994 when momma Judd was still in her 30s.
For Judd, becoming a grandmother is a prize to be treasured – just as valuable as her seven Grammys, her best-selling book and her own motherhood.
10 Sarah Palin - 44
Palin might be the most notorious young grandmother on our list. Her daughter Bristol was pregnant when Palin teamed up with John McCain in the 2008 presidential bid.
Although Palin tried to prevent political jeopardy by announcing that Bristol would marry the baby’s father, neither the marriage nor Palin’s White House hopes came to fruition. Nevertheless, Palin became a grandparent at the tender age of 44.
9 Priscilla Presley - 44
As if the Presley name weren’t enough to make her famous, the former wife of Elvis also became a granny at age 44 as well. The rock star couple’s only child Lisa Marie was born when Priscilla was 23. Her granddaughter was born 21 years later in 1989.
Elvis never got to enjoy being a grandparent, but with 34 years of grand-parenting already under her belt, Priscilla should have enough for the both of them.
8 NeNe Leakes - 44
“The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star wasn’t too keen on the title “grandma,” preferring the moniker “Glam-ma” when her son and his girlfriend welcomed a baby girl into the world.
Although Leakes wasn’t ready to be called a granny at age 44, she does spend as much time as she can spoiling her granddaughter.
7 Michelle Duggar – 43
When you have as many kids as the Duggars, becoming a grandparent is pretty much a done deal. The first of the Duggars 19 kids Joshua entered parenthood in 2009 when his daughter Mackynzie was born.
What makes this story unique is that the Duggars didn’t stop having children when their children became parents. Their youngest Josie is an aunt who is younger than her niece Mackynzie.
6 Melania Knauss-Trump – 39
Once upon a time, this relationship was one of the most famous in Hollywood. Knauss-Trump took a shortcut into grandparenthood when she married Donald Trump. Technically, she is only a step-grandmother to Trump’s two grandchildren, but her under-40 age still makes the title “grandmother” an impressive feat.
5 Tracey Smith – 36
Grandmother Tracey Smith is truly Granny Smith, even though she doesn’t look the part at age 36. At age 16, she became a mother. She resented losing her freedom and social life but kept going, knowing that she would get her life back when her children were older. She claims her life started when she was 30, and now she can enjoy the joys of grandparenthood when some of her friends are just starting to experience motherhood for themselves.
4 Tara Bailee – 36
Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, and the Bailee family is a shining example of this phenomenon. Bailee found out she was pregnant when she was 20.
In an effort to keep her daughter from enduring all of the hardships she did as a young mother, she put her on the Pill as soon as she reached puberty. Despite her best efforts, her daughter ended up on the fast track to motherhood, giving birth to her first at 16.
3 Whoopi Goldberg – 34
Whoopi started making whoopee as a teenager. She entered motherhood at age 17. Not to be outdone by her mother, her daughter Alexandra gave birth at age 16, and the legacy doesn’t stop there. Alexandra’s daughter Amarah gave birth to a daughter in 2014, making Goldberg one of the world’s youngest great-grandmothers at the age of 58.
2 Rifca Stanescu - 23
Stanescu is a Romanian Gypsy from Investi, Romania. Even though Gypsy culture prizes virginity over education, especially for girls, Stanescu violated her family’s wishes by leaving school and running off with a 13-year-old jewelry maker at age 11. She gave birth to her first child Maria at age 12.
Although Stanescu begged her daughter to stay in school, she followed in her mother’s footsteps, bearing her son Ion at just 11 years of age. This made Stanescu a grandmother before many women have even reached motherhood – at just 23 years old.
1 Mum-Zi – 17
The 1800s story may be a legend, but Mum-Zi reportedly became a grandmother at the age of 17. The Nigerian from an island called Calabar had her first child when she was still a child at age 8. Continuing the family tradition, her daughter gave birth at age 9, making her a teenage grandmother at age 17 before she would have been even legally considered an adult in the United States.