The Role of Grandparents – How Important Are They?

Today, more than ever Grandparents are taking an increasingly active role in the lives of their grandchildren. While many of us no longer cohabitate with our extended families, 65% of grandparents still take on a caring role by caring for their grandchildren at least once a week in 2011.*

For these lucky families, there are huge advantages for all involved when our youngest and elder generations get that time together.

The role model

The unfortunate thing about wisdom is it takes time to attain. For most of us, wisdom comes with the passing of years and an abundance of life experiences. These experiences, trumps and triumphs are why our grandparents tend to make such great role models. When gramps and grandma spend time with the grandkids, they are able to instil values such as; a sense of family, strong work ethic and standing up for what you believe is right without even being aware of doing so.

The generational link

History, and family history in particular, provides children with a real link to their past. It lays foundations for the continuity of life and even an acceptance of the circle of life. Hearing about long passed away relatives and first-hand accounts of past events, both large and small, hugely enrich the life of a growing child, not to mention leaving them with ever-lasting memories.

There are other massive advantages of ensuring this grandparent-grandchild link. A study carried out by Boston College in the US showed that close emotional ties between the two generations have great psychological benefits. One very important finding is that of far fewer depressive symptoms on both sides.*

The security link

Having another level of love, attention and security from additional family members is something that genuinely helps shape your child as he or she grows. With none of the stresses of work and bringing up their own kids, grandparents have the precious time that helps in all stages of a child’s development. Research has shown that not only does grandparent interaction improve language skills in pre-school children but might also have a positive influence on their health as well.**

The support network

In today’s 24/7 world, juggling all that’s necessary to thrive in the 21st century is no easy task. As well as providing time, patience, and oodles of fun for their grandkids, many grandparents provide an essential support network such as child-minding, babysitting, being a much-needed taxi service, and more.

And, on the flip side, grandparents in turn get a whole heap of benefits from spending time with those just beginning their journey of life. Kids provide the in-built urge to pass on knowledge, something of which Nanny and Grandie have a wealth to share. Children also help the older generation remain current, perhaps learning new skills such as use of the internet, sending email, and using messaging services like What’s App and Messenger to share photos. And, as most grandparents will testify, you get to make the most of all the fun parts of having children in your life, without the worry of sleepless nights, constant worrying and all the other ‘joys’ that go hand in hand with having kids.

* https://aifs.gov.au/publications/modern-australian-family

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025375