The Bond That Can Develop Between Grandparents & Grandchildrenby Jane Chitty
Decades ago when extended families were often living under one roof, grandparents and grandchildren would naturally develop a closeness. Then came that period of history where parents and children lived together while grandparents lived elsewhere - often many miles away. Now, roles are often reversing - especially when both parents have busy careers - and the grandparents live close by and are able to step in.
Good news is that there are benefits for everyone with this new direction
- The University of Oxford in the UK has been carrying out some research and found that children who were close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and were better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school. Grandparents were able to provide a sense of security and support, helping their grandchildren through adverse childhood experiences.
- Other research has found how beneficial it can be for children to have an understanding of their own family history, and how they fit into that history. Such an understanding can make them more resilient, helping them to feel more in control of their lives especially when the outside world seems to be in turmoil and helping them to learn how to cope and bounce back.
- When grandparents and grandchildren are close, there is a better chance that those grandchildren will be less likely to show bias towards the elderly.
- Another study carried out a few years ago found that close emotional relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren could even lead to lower rates of depressions for both generations. The grandparents would be exposed to new ideas and new technology, the grandchildren would be exposed to life experience and advice.
- A further benefit has also been evident with grandchildren becoming more resilient and grandparents becoming healthier - and no, the grandparents were not being worn out by spending extra time with their grandchildren! Research suggested that grandparents who spend time taking care of their grandchildren add an average of five years to their lives.
- Where grandparents and grandchildren are not able to live close to one another, technology has made it easier to build a relationship across the miles thanks to FaceTime, Skype or other video chat platforms. Loving grandparents are able to find a way to bridge the distance.
- Divorce between parents is one of the saddest happenings to affect relationships and that includes those between grandparents and grandchildren. It can have a drastic effect on contact between grandchildren and grandparents. While contact often increases between the custodial parent and his or her parents and of course the grandchildren, the parents of the non-custodial parent frequently find their contact with grandchildren greatly reduced or even non-existent.
- Where family members understand from an early age that they share obligations, they are more likely to have strong grandparent-grandchild bonds than those families in which individuality and independence appear at the top of the list.
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