Could it be that a secret to raising healthier, happier and confident kids is right in front of us?
While grandparents are often accused of spoiling or even softening the kids as they give so much extra love (and material objects) to their grandchildren, research shows that keeping the multi-generational bond tight may help more than you think.
Heather Marcoux, former Senior News Editor for Motherly magazine, cited a study from the University of Oxford that showed that kids that spend time with their grandparents don’t have as many behavioral or emotional issues as those that don’t because they’re better able to cope with most traumatic life events such as divorce or bullying.
Grandparents are sanctuaries for their grandchildren that go through difficult times in their lives and they learn from their experiences of life.
One study of over 1100 Belgian children aged 7-16 shows a “decrease in the likelihood of prejudice” towards older adults among children close to their grandparents. Having a connection with their grandparents provides a unique learning experience, promotes tolerance, broadens viewpoints of the world - past and present, and builds roots, resilience, and autonomy.
Marcoux also acknowledged that these findings contribute to a child’s knowledge of the world, and increases their ability to handle uncontrollable events while encouraging them to take their purpose and heritage into account.
Another study, from Boston College in 2014, connected emotive ties between kids and their grandparents. Kids with lower rates of depression were found to have good relationships with their grandparents.
The Boston Globe notes that even adult grandchildren benefit from the life experience and the advice of a grandparent.
Okay, so what about the grandparents themselves? Do grandchildren do anything for them? YES is the answer! Research shows that grandparents who see their grandchildren become stronger and healthier, and add an average of five years to their lives. So, yeah, it’s a win-win.
So what can we do to foster all this health and well-being? Well, parents must play their part as the epicenter of this relationship. Make time between grandparents and grandkids – beyond the basics of childcare. Encourage separate communication between them through letters or phone calls. Concentrate on the consistent, complete family union.
Show your children what a functioning support system looks like through your relationship with their grandparents. Allow the grandparents to strengthen your children's positive values, including affection, respect and care for the elderly.
Grandparent/grandchildren relationship is not just for birthday parties and holidays. It should include moments of playful fun and deep, humble conversations that reveal grandparents are human too! Rather than take things to that level, establish moments that will teach kids to understand the gift of time and to develop a strong sense of relationship, compassion, empathy, and adulthood.
Marcoux, H., 2018. Raising children near their grandparents has scientific benefits (besides the free babysitting. [Online] [Accessed 22 3 2021].
Tootris, 2020. WHY RAISING CHILDREN CLOSE TO GRANDPARENTS HAS SCIENTIFIC BENEFITS. [Online] [Accessed 22 3 2021].